Monday, July 28, 2008

Another top-100 recruit for N.C. State

N.C. State coach Sidney Lowe tapped familiar territory for his second commitment from a top-100 basketball recruit in two days.

Richard Howell, a 6-foot-8, 215-pound rising senior forward at Wheeler High in Marietta, Ga., committed to the Wolfpack on Monday. J.J. Hickson, who was N.C. State’s leading scorer and rebounder as a freshman last season before leaving for the NBA, also played at Wheeler.

“It didn’t hurt that J.J. went there (to N.C. State) and had a very successful season,” Wheeler coach Doug Lipscomb said.

Howell is rated the No. 74 player in the Class of 2009 by and has been an AAU teammate of guard Lorenzo Brown of Centennial High in Roswell, Ga., on the Worldwide Renegades. Brown, ranked 29th by, committed to N.C. State on Sunday morning.

Lipscomb said Howell is versatile enough to play small forward and power forward at N.C. State.
Ken Tysiac:

Wolfpack gets big-time guard it had to have

Lorenzo Brown's high school coach, Allen Whitehart, said Brown committed to N.C. State on Sunday morning because the Wolfpack felt like "family."

If that family were putting together a photo album, Brown would belong on the cover.

It's impossible to overstate his importance to N.C. State.

Brown is a 6-foot-5 guard from Centennial High in Roswell, Ga., who's rated No. 29 among rising seniors by He is a premier player who's decided to join a team that desperately needed one.

Coach Sidney Lowe's gem in the 2007-08 freshman class, center J.J. Hickson, left after one season to become the 19th pick of the NBA draft, joining the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Tracy Smith, Javi Gonzalez and Johnny Thomas are the holdovers from that Class of 2007 recruiting haul. The incoming freshmen are Julius Mays and C.J. Williams.

Before Brown's announcement Sunday, the lone Class of 2009 commitment was shooting guard Scott Wood of Marion, Ind.

Smith, Gonzalez, Thomas, Mays, Williams and Scott are complimentary players. They aren't good enough to put N.C. State in the upper half of the ACC on their own. Brown and Class of 2010 commitment C.J. Leslie should turn out to be elite ACC players who can carry the Wolfpack in the future.

N.C. State needs to recruit at least one of those players every two years in order to be an ACC contender.

With elite Raleigh Word of God Academy point guard John Wall hardly a sure thing for the Wolfpack, it was imperative that Lowe get a big-time guard in the Class of 2009. He got one in Brown, who averaged 25 points, eight rebounds and eight assists last season as a junior.

The "family" that Brown craved will be a lot more comfortable once he arrives.

-Ken Tysiac

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Point guard commits to iN.C. State

N.C. State secured one of its top Class of 2009 recruiting targets Sunday morning when guard Lorenzo Brown of Roswell, Ga., told assistant coach Larry Harris he is committing to the Wolfpack.

Brown is 6-foot-5 and 195 pounds and will be able to play both point guard and shooting guard in college, according to his coach, Allen Whitehart of Centennial High.

As a junior last season, Brown averaged 25 points, eight rebounds and eight assists per game. He is rated the 29th-best prospect in his class by

“He works at all aspects of the game,” Whitehart said. “He does a lot well, and his shooting is coming along. . . .When the ball is in his hands, nine times out of 10 good things happen.”

Brown has connections to a couple other players who are committed to N.C. State in the Class of 2010. Ryan Harrow, a point guard from Marietta (Ga.) Walton High, is one of Brown’s best friends.

Forward C.J. Leslie of Word of God Christian Academy in Raleigh has been a teammate of Brown on the Worldwide Renegades AAU team.

Whitehart said Brown also seriously considered Florida, which was attractive because of its back-to-back NCAA titles in 2006 and 2007. Whitehart said Brown hopes to lead N.C. State to similar success.

Brown is N.C. State’s second Class of 2009 commitment, joining Marion (Ind.) High shooting guard Scott Wood. The commitment from Brown adds to N.C. State coach Sidney Lowe’s growing reputation as a recruiter in Georgia.

In addition to Brown and Harrow, Lowe got 2007-08 freshman J.J. Hickson of Marietta’s Wheeler High from Georgia. Hickson led the Wolfpack in scoring and rebounding last season before leaving to become the No. 19 pick of the NBA draft with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
-- Ken Tysiac

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Tar Heels say team objectives come first

Wayne Ellington, Danny Green and Ty Lawson all learned this summer what they need to do to get to the NBA.

They explored their NBA draft possibilities by attending pre-draft workouts in Orlando, Fla., and working out for individual teams as underclassmen. Then they returned to North Carolina, joining Tyler Hansbrough to make the Tar Heels the overwhelming favorite to win the NCAA title.

One of the few apparent obstacles for North Carolina could be what Ellington, Green and Lawson learned over the summer. If their personal goals for improvement don't match coach Roy Williams' plans for the team, there could be friction.

Ellington said that isn't going to be a problem.

"I don't think so at all," he said Monday, when selected North Carolina players met with reporters. "I don't think so one bit. We're the type of team that really only has one goal, and that's to win."

A guard who will be a junior next season, Ellington said his personal improvement objectives should make the team better. He said he learned that he needs to get stronger and improve as a defender. He said he is fine offensively, although getting stronger might help him get to the basket - and the free-throw line.

Green, who will be a senior forward, said improving his lateral quickness is one of his goals. He said he was told gaining strength, speed and another year of experience could help him become a first-round pick.

He said the team still comes first and is willing to accept a role coming off the bench again, if necessary. Green also said there are no lingering hard feelings within the team over his somewhat unexpected decision to explore the draft.

"There were some misunderstandings, some things that were put in the paper that I think the media might have blown out of proportion a little bit," Green said. "I talked to Coach about that. We all had a sit down and everything was fine."

Lawson isn't enrolled in summer school and was out of town Monday. But other players addressed the potential dangers of entering the season as such a heavy favorite.

Although the players are talking about getting to Detroit for the Final Four, Hansbrough said they learned last season how to value each step along the way. They finished atop the ACC and won the conference tournament and the East Regional before falling to Kansas in the national semifinals.

Guard Marcus Ginyard acknowledged players will feel pressure to win the NCAA title, but said North Carolina teams usually face high expectations.

"There's going to be a lot of pressure and a lot of talk about us winning the whole thing," Ellington said. "But we're just going to have to enjoy it." -- KEN TYSIAC

Friday, July 11, 2008

UNC commit Henson gets rave reviews

North Carolina commitment John Henson, a 6-foot-10 rising senior from Round Rock, Texas, continues to draw rave reviews on the summer circuit.

All-Star Sports recruiting analyst Bob Gibbons said Henson was the consensus No. 1 player at Nike’s LeBron James Skills Academy earlier this month in Akron. James’ camp featured many of the top players in the nation.

“He’s so long and angular, and he’s got good skills,” Gibbons said Friday.

Gibbons said Henson compares to Brandan Wright, who spent the 2006-07 season at North Carolina before entering the NBA draft. But whereas Wright didn’t venture much beyond the high post on offense, Gibbons said Henson is capable of playing the wing. – Ken Tysiac

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Remembering Augustin, AAU version

As the Charlotte Bobcats prepare for rookie first-round pick D.J. Augustin’s scheduled summer league debut Saturday in Las Vegas, I’m reminded of the first time I saw Augustin play in person.

Augustin wasn’t the marquee guy on the New Orleans Jazz AAU team in 2004. That distinction fell to forward Tasmin Mitchell, a forward who was rated the top prospect in his class for a while by some respected recruiting analysts.

Mitchell was solid, but not spectacular. (He started the first 71 games of his career at LSU before suffering a season-ending ankle injury as a junior last November).

Augustin was electrifying as he propelled the Jazz into the finals at the Bob Gibbons Tournament of Champions. The Jazz fell to the Spiece Indy Heat and a decent center named Greg Oden in the championship game.

Though Augustin didn’t get a championship plaque, he demonstrated an uncanny ability to get into the lane for acrobatic finishes over much taller players. He fed teammates for easy baskets and played with an energy that was infectious.

I hadn’t heard of Augustin before the tournament. By the end, he was obviously one of the tournament’s most impressive players. (He also was considered Wake Forest before choosing to play for Rick Barnes at Texas).

There is a big difference between excelling in an AAU tournament and becoming a top-rate NBA point guard. Having watched in person as gritty Raymond Felton led North Carolina to an NCAA title, I’m honestly not sure whether Augustin’s skill set and intangibles are better.

Felton is faster from baseline to baseline, but Augustin might be quicker and more slippery. Felton is physically stronger and a natural leader. Augustin probably is better at getting his teammates the ball in the right places (as Kevin Durant could attest after their freshman seasons at Texas).

But I believe Augustin has a chance to be a solid NBA point guard. Considering the other players available when the Bobcats drafted at No. 9, this probably was a wise pick.

– Ken Tysiac

Monday, July 7, 2008

Pack recruit figures to grow into role

Joe Goydish admits he is biased when he says N.C. State’s coaches made an excellent early evaluation of point guard Ryan Harrow.

A point guard who will be a high school junior next season, Harrow committed to N.C. State last week. Harrow has transferred from Concord Cannon and plans to play next season for Goydish at Walton High in Marietta, Ga.

“They got a gem before people realize he’s a gem,” Goydish said of N.C. State. “I think he could be a top-25 kid” in his class.

Goydish said Harrow has been a bit under the radar because he carries only about 150 pounds on his 5-foot-11 frame and looks like a ninth-grader because he is so thin. But Harrow wears a size 13 1/2 shoe, and Goydish anticipates he will be 6-2 or 6-3 by the time he enters college.

Harrow is an honor student and was impressed with Wolfpack coach Sidney Lowe and assistant Monte Towe while attending camp in Raleigh. Goydish would have preferred for Harrow to explore all his options instead of committing so early, but said Harrow always has wanted to attend N.C. State and didn’t want to wait.

His commitment could help as the Wolfpack attempts to secure another top Georgia guard, 6-4 Lorenzo Brown of Centennial High in Roswell. Brown is rated 29th on’s list of rising seniors, and Goydish said Brown and Harrow are like brothers.

Even if Brown goes elsewhere, though, Goydish said N.C. State will be pleased with Harrow’s quickness, scoring and passing.

“His ceiling is so high,” Goydish said. “The thing about Ryan is, he just does so many things, it makes your jaw drop.” – Ken Tysiac