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April 27, 2011

Q&A: C.J. Leslie talks about his return

Earlier this week NC State confirmed that rising sophomore forward C.J. Leslie would be returning to NC State. Leslie met with the print media for about 10 minutes Wednesday, and here is the transcript.

Can you go through the process of your decision?

"Well, I decided to come back for another year."

What went into that?

"Basically I just stuck around and waited to see what kind of coach we were going to get. The coach that we got obviously made a lot of impact on my decision. I think he's a very good coach.

"I sat down with him a couple of times, and I liked the way he talked. He told me about his offense and how he's going to run the system this year. Everything sounds good.

Where does he see you playing because last year you were kind of both inside and out?

"Well right now a little bit of both, in and out. He definitely wants me to shoot the three if I can shoot it. That's one of the things he wants me to improve on, but he's going to play me wherever I am capable of playing."

Anything in particular that he said that struck a chord with you like I coached this player?

"It was more of like just telling me how he's going to play me. I know he has coached a lot of players in the past. It really was just one-on-one about me and not who he coached in the past."

Going back a little, how much did you get frustrated during the search?

"We really didn't know much. We found out right about the time y'all found out. We were shocked. We never knew who was going to be the coach. We never had more information than y'all did."

Did you feel comfortable right away with Gottfried or was it gradual?

"Each conversation got better, a little better understanding. It was more of a getting to know each other just a little bit more each time we talked. At the end of the conversation, I feel very comfortable with it."

On shot selection:

"I think just by playing this game as much as I have and as long as I have, you kind of have an idea about what's a good shot and what's a bad shot. If you're open, take it. If you feel like you can make it, take it. That's kind of what he's saying."

Did Gottfried talk about where you might be able to go in the draft?

"Actually we never talked about that. We talked about what he can do for me if I came back for another year. We never had a conversation about the NBA whether he thought I should go or not. It was more like this is what I can do for you and this is how it's going to go. The other side of it was talking to my family and my decision."

Did you talk to anybody about where you might in or look at mock drafts?

"That's about as far as I went. I kind of just wanted to deal with one thing at a time. I never really got to the NBA thing. I was just kind of curious about who we were going to get, what style he is going to coach. I really didn't know much about him until the conversations we had. I'm still here."

So waiting to decide to coming back it was more about him than the NBA?

"Right."

What appealed to you about coming back?

"I felt like I could improve a lot, and just meeting with Coach Gottfried and talking with him, he really put certain things in way that I didn't see it. It kind of led me to like, 'Wow, if I can do that than I am going to be good.' Just talking to him and putting new things in my eyes and putting a light in the tunnel.

There were a lot of expectations last year for your class. How do you feel about the year for the rookies?

"I don't feel it was bad. I feel it was okay. It wasn't a bad season, but it could've been a lot better."

Inconsistent?

"Yeah, we had ups and downs. It wasn't very consistent."

Syracuse was one of the games that stood out for you?

"Yeah you could say that. I would just say that we did have a very inconsistent season because after the Syracuse game we were all pumped up and thought we were going to be a little bit better then it slid on down, then it came back up then we slid on down. We had our ups and downs."

What were some of your better games last year?

"Like you said, Syracuse, Youngstown State."

On the flipside, Virginia comes to my mind?

"Yeah Virginia, first Carolina game."

Do you see yourself being more a leader?

"I would say I have to step up and become a better leader. We kind of have a young team, too, so it would be in my best interest to step up and be a leader."

How much did you talk to Ryan Harrow in the last couple of weeks, and how surprised are you that he decided to leave?

"Ryan is still one of my best boys, and I'll support him in whatever he does. I really didn't talk to him much. His decision was his decision. He decided to leave, and I support him on that. I'm not happy with it at all, but I support him, and he feels like that was best for his career. Who am I to say that's not."

Did you feel like he was headed in that direction from the get-go?

"Well we never knew because our conversations wasn't about him leaving or do you think he is going to stay, it's about going to study hall."

How do you feel about Lorenzo Brown at the point guard?

"I'm getting comfortable at one because Lorenzo was always a point through his high school career, so I feel like he can handle the ball good."

Some of those recruits have said they are not coming, have you contacted any of them beforehand?

"No, I'm not going to talk to the recruits. I don't know what to say about that cause I'm not even sure who backed out."


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