Once it starts rolling downhill, you keep feeding the monster.
Last weekend, the NC State Wolfpack popped a significant commitment, ESPN 100 No. 11 overall recruit Anthony Barber (Hampton, Va./Hampton). Barber’s pledge gives the Pack a potential backcourt with star power to rival the powers-that-be in the 919 area code.
In 2013, NC State is likely to sport a backcourt composed of three McDonald’s All-Americans. Tyler Lewis and Rodney Purvis will be sophomores, and Barber has an excellent chance to be named a burger boy.
With an emphasis on backcourt firepower, the Pack needed an insider. Enter ESPN 100 power forward Kyle Washington (Champlin, Minn./Brewster Academy), who committed to NC State before this weekend's visit concluded. Behind the scenes, Iowa State and Ohio State saw it coming. The University of Washington was embedded deep with him and was strong, but the Pack appealed to Washington’s desire to play early.
Calvin Leslie could be an early-entry NBA candidate after his junior season. Richard Howell will exhaust his eligibility next spring. Those were top 100 forwards in the frontcourt. Before Washington, Pack coach Mark Gottfried had bolstered the perimeter with headliners, but their frontcourt additions haven’t had the same sizzle. Washington is Gottfried’s first foray into the ESPN 100 with a power forward.
Why is Washington important? For starters, you can toss him the ball in the post and he’s one of the few bigs in the 2013 class who can generate original offense and score from the post. This class lacks offensive big men, so Washington’s skill set is a premium in comparison to his peers.
Secondly, Washington is literally on the rise. The first time these eyes saw Washington, he looked like a high-motor, undersized, 6-foot-6 power forward. At the time, he was in the wrong grade and very young compared to his classmates. The decision was made to reclass, and thus he was put into the 2013 contingent with guys his own age.
Since the reclass, that 6-6 kid has grown at least three inches. Washington is a legit 6-9 and growing. If the growth spurt continues and Washington’s offensive ability follows suit, we could be talking about an undervalued stock that is currently ranked No. 66 in the 2013 class.
Bolstering the theory that Washington’s game and height are on the upswing is that last year at the Hotchkiss School, reports indicated that Washington turned in a below-his-abilities junior year. This past spring and summer, with the season in the rearview mirror, he was outstanding. From the NBA Camp through July, Washington’s stock consistently rose, and he ascended from outside the ESPN 100 into the top 75.
The NC State staff has four former head coaches who were coach of the year in their leagues (Gottfried, Bobby Lutz, Orlando Early and Larry Farmer) and now the Pack has a 2013 recruiting class -- ranked No. 12 in the country -- that is commensurate with the team’s new lofty expectations.