N.C. State Aiming to Recruit Nationally Under Gottfried
Wolfpack are involved with Amile Jefferson, Ricardo Gathers and Torian Graham
EDITOR'S NOTE: This story was updated at 3:30pm on Thursday to reflect the news that Torian Graham has decommited once again from N.C. State.
Even though all three recruits in North Carolina State's 2012 recruiting class are from the Tar Heel State, the Wolfpack don't intend on limiting themselves to their immediate area.
"We want to win a national championship," N.C. State assistant Orlando Early told FiveStarBasketball.com in an exclusive interview. "We want to win what we think is the best conference in the country and we're actively recruiting the best players in the country."
So far, the Wolfpack's three-man class of North Carolina-based guards Tyler Lewis and Rodney Purvis and swingman T.J. Warren is ranked No. 3 by ESPN.com.
Those players believe they are becoming part of a special, new era under first-year coach Mark Gottfried.
Yet N.C. State hopes it isn't finished recruiting for this year.
The Wolfpack are involved with forwards Amile Jefferson and Ricardo Gathers and guard Torian Graham, all of whom will sign in the spring. (In a bizarre series of events Thursday, Graham recomitted and then decommited from N.C. State in a matter of hours.)
The 6-foot-7 Jefferson out of Philly Friends Central has a list of several suitors, but word on the street is that Kentucky currently has an edge -- although it remains unclear by how much.
"Still looking at Ohio State, still looking at 'Nova, N.C. State, UConn, Kentucky," Jefferson told Five Star at this week's City of Palms Classic in Fort Meyers, Fla.
Jefferson does speak highly of N.C. State, where he has already taken an official visit.
"I think they have a great program going there," Jefferson said. "Coach Gottfried and his assistants are great. Then being able to get those players there and recruit … They definitely have a future. That's a school on the rise and having those guys [the three recruits] really means something."
Jefferson also likes how Gottfried employs forwards like C.J. Leslie and Richard Howell.
"Coach Gottfried runs that UCLA system, where they [bigs] do a lot of things," Jefferson said.
He has a connection to the current recruiting crop, having teamed with Warren at the NBA Top 100 Camp.
"Bringing in those players like T.J. Warren, you know what you are going to get out of those guys, Rodney Purvis," Jefferson said. "You already know you are going to be able to compete playing alongside those guys."
He added: "To be honest, that's what you need to win, you need talent. And with a good coach like that and [those] talents, it a good key to success."
As for the 6-8 Gathers, a rugged power forward from Reserve (La.) Riverside nicknamed the "Bayou Bull," Gottfried and the N.C. State staff got working on him late because they weren't hired until April. He then committed to St. John's over the summer before decommitting.
Still, Gathers currently lists N.C. State along with Duke, Florida, LSU, St. John’s, Cal, USC and Baylor.
“I want to reassure myself of where I want to be,” Gathers told Naples News at City of Palms. “I just want to make sure I look at all my options. I wanted to re-evaluate everything.”
Purvis is among the current N.C. State recruits trying to get Gathers to join him in Raleigh.
Asked what he tells Gathers, Purvis told Five star by text, "Just the freedom we'll have. Coach lets his guys play, and how great of an area it's in."
Graham is a 6-4 guard originally from Raleigh who's now at Arlington (Fla.) Country Day. He once committed to N.C. State and the staff hopes to get him back in the spring.
Louisville, Xavier, Baylor, Villanova and Memphis are reportedly among the other schools recruiting Graham, who remains open.
In the Class of 2013, the Wolfpack are targeting some big fish from across the country -- including guards Allerik Freeman, Josh Hart and Kasey Hill, as well as forwards and bigs Jabari Parker, Julius Randle, Nerlens Noel, Beejay Anya and Kennedy Meeks.
While Gottfried's inaugural class is all about North Carolina natives, the coach plans to actively recruit wherever he can hope to land elite players.
“We’re going to recruit anywhere there’s a good player,” Gottfried, speaking generally, said last month in advance of the Legends Classic in New Jersey. “Obviously, this year we had some guys in our state, but that’s not going to happen every year.
"So we’re not going to limit ourselves to any one part of the country.”
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Harrison Sanford is a reporter for Fivestarbasketball.com. Follow him Twitter: @HarrisonSanford