Mark Gottfried took over the NC State program with a clear mandate: establish an identity for the Wolfpack. During his tenure at Alabama, he was the kind of recruiter who worked inside/out. The Crimson Tide positioned themselves well with the top talent in their state and then filled in the gaps accordingly. Gottfried adopted the same plan in Raleigh and so far it’s working better than expected.
On Wednesday, T.J. Warren (Durham, N.C./Brewster Academy) committed to Gottfried’s Pack after considering Georgetown. Warren’s pledge gives the Pack their third ESPNU 100 recruit. This is more important regarding to the Pack’s long term standing in its own backyard because Warren is the third North Carolinian in the 2012 class to pledge allegiance.
By contrast, former Wolfpack coach Sidney Lowe only signed one ESPNU 100 in-state prospect during his five-year run. Ryan Harrow graduated from a Georgia high school but has roots in North Carolina so a case could be made that Lowe landed three. Comparatively speaking, Gottfried will sign three highly-regarded in-staters next week -- ESPNU 100 PG Tyler Lewis (Statesville, N.C./Oak Hill), ESPNU 100 SG Rodney Purvis (Raleigh, N.C./Upper Room) and Warren -- but he’s not finished. Amile Jefferson (Philadelphia, Pa./Friends Central) is scheduled to visit NC State this weekend.
Lewis and Purvis, according to Warren, went a long way toward greasing the path for him to commit. “They would text me every day and try to get me to come,” Warren said of his future teammates. “When I went on my official, they were there the whole weekend and that felt good to have players surrounding me that wanted to go to school together.”
The beauty of NC State’s class is the diversity each player brings to the program. Warren, now approaching 6-foot-8 is a big-bodied shooter. He’s one of the more accomplished small forwards in the class when it comes to putting the ball in the basket. Purvis is easily one of the top scoring threats in the nation. Lewis played his first game for Oak Hill Tuesday night and he handed out 14 assists; he’ll be tasked with tying the whole class together and making the engine run.
Gottfried could not have taken over the reins at a more opportune time. The state of North Carolina is laced with talent in the coming classes and been a haven for high-major players since 2007, the start of an impressive run on talent. Gottfried’s commitment to the in-state players is not lost on the new recruits.
“The new staff just wanted to come in and pick up where the last staff left off,” Warren said. “They got Tyler to commit and then they wanted to get the best in-state players. Mark Gottfried stayed in contact with my family and made us feel comfortable.”