"Calvin" made the right choice
Apr 18, 2012
C.J. Leslie might have made a completely different decision.
However, Calvin Leslie opted to let this year’s NBA draft pass him by and return for his junior season at N.C. State. This shows just how much Calvin has developed under Mark Gottfried, because I’m certain that C.J. would have jumped at the chance – even if he was projected to go in the latter portion of the first round. Calvin, it seems, has a better understanding of what needs to happen before he’s ready for the NBA’s final exam.
As a freshman, so many of the NBA draft-watchers ranked C.J. as one of the top ten prospects. Athletically speaking, he’s everything the league loves. He’s long and athletic, he’s got adequate (and improving) ball skills and he is an explosive leaper. The NBA draft is built on similar players. The only red flag was the fact that he appeared to be an unmotivated, selfish player during his first collegiate season. Maybe he thought he was better than everyone else. Maybe he didn’t like the way (former coach) Sidney Lowe utilized his skills. Maybe he just wasn’t suited for the college game. Regardless, the perceived attitude problems ruined whatever chances he had of making an impact on last year’s draft.
Then along came Calvin. In one of the most subtly brilliant psychological maneuvers in recent memory, first year Wolfpack head coach Mark Gottfried got rid of “C.J.” and welcomed “Calvin” to the program and the transformation was noticeable. While it didn’t all come together until the final month or so of the season, Calvin became a catalyst for everything N.C. State accomplished in March, and it is now apparent that the transformation extended beyond the basketball court.
Leslie the player, played with a much greater understanding of his strengths and weaknesses. He took far fewer bad shots than he did during his initial season. He defended with more intelligence and intensity. And, he was clearly a better competitor than he was during his freshman campaign. However, it’s Leslie the person who has appeared to make the greater strides because for someone who would have likely skipped out on college altogether were it not for that pesky rule barring high schoolers from the NBA Draft, opting for a third year of college shows a maturity that many didn’t think he’d acquired.
Let’s face it, Calvin still dreams of playing in the NBA. He could have very easily been in this draft, this June, and been selected somewhere in the back third of the first round, guaranteeing him a couple of million dollars over the next two seasons. But, like most of the underclassmen that have entered their names into the draft, his game isn’t NBA ready. Leslie still has to refine a jump shot. He still needs to learn how to play away from the ball. He also needs to get much, much stronger because there aren’t any kids in the NBA, it’s a league of grown men and those guys have seen everything you’ve got to offer a thousand times before. And, I’m sure there’s still the need to gain a true understanding of how incredibly hard you have to work to be a success when the game becomes a job.
Calvin appears to have figured that part out. It is to his credit, not to mention N.C. State’s benefit, that he made a very smart decision to continue his improvement while playing here in Raleigh as opposed to sitting and watching on a bench in Sacramento or Toronto or – even worse – Charlotte.
I’m not sure C.J. would have made the same decision.
Most Recent Comments
RE:Dead on Adam. Calvin is taking C.J.'s athletic ability and becoming a real basketball player both mentally and physically! I think his progress shows the importance of good coaching.
I see it every level, great players are developed by great coaches! Youth leagues, AAU, Middle School and High Schools all benefit from dedicated and passionate coaches that have the kids' best interest at heart. And I might add that most of these "coaches" are volunteers that contribute because of their love for the kids and the game.
I cannot believe that a kid like CJ was not better prepared for the college game. It was obvious that he never learned the game. It is sad but being a Pack fan I am happy as it is keeping Calvin around Raleigh for another year.
Will be a fun year for the Pack!!!