Sidney Lowe’s 2010 recruiting class has been a hot topic over that past season for Wolfpack fans. The addition of two five star guards (Ryan Harrow and Lorenzo Brown) along with four star power forward Luke Cothron and the possibility of landing top five forward CJ Leslie has NC State, on what appears to be, the brink of a turning point in the program. While the excitement around the program is at a 20 year peak, with that comes pressure… pressure to perform, to live up to expectations, not only for the coaching staff, but more so for the incoming freshman class.
The reality of the situation is that Ryan Harrow, Lorenzo Brown and Luke Cothron are being looked to as a group that could turn things around for NC State after years of clawing to reclaim the rich past they once enjoyed. While all of the recruits are well aware of the stakes, they continue to assure State fans that they are ready for the challenge, however, no one can be completely sure until they step foot on campus. This class has known all along that Wolfpack Nation is counting on them to change things, they know the culture in Raleigh and know the challenge in front of them, but how does a 17 year old deal with the intense pressure of turning around an ACC program?
To answer that question we asked someone who’s been in their shoes, a player who took on the very challenge that the 2010 class will face when they step foot on the court in Raleigh. His name is Julius Hodge. Hodge was one of the nations top prep players coming out of St. Raymond’s High School in New York City and had all of college basketball’s top programs vying for his services, however, Hodge didn’t want to follow the trend of top players committing to top programs. He knew of the pressures that came along with the territory and he conquered them with ease, leading the Woflpack to four consecutive NCAA tournaments with an unwavering confidence and a contagious personality. Julius talked about his choice to play for the Wolfpack.
“At NC State I had the opportunity to go to a program that had been down and help build it back up. I think it was just my personality. I didn’t want to follow in anyone’s footsteps. I wanted to build my own legacy. I’ve always rooted for the underdog and I still do, and that’s one of the reasons I liked the challenge at NC State.” Said Hodge.
At 5’7 135lbs, Ryan Harrow knows a little bit about being the underdog. Overlooked twice by Georgia Tech head coach Paul Hewitt at his summer camp, Ryan Harrow was determined to show division 1 coaches that he not only belonged, but that he was a special talent. One game was all it took for Sidney Lowe to see this, offering Harrow a scholarship on this spot, an offer Harrow quickly accepted. Nowadays, after growing a few inches and refining his game, everybody that sees him play knows just how special he is.
“Oh my gosh. (Harrow) is crazy. He’s so quick, his dunks, and his handle…he’s out there looking like ‘Skip To My Lou.’” Julius Hodge said, referring to the And 1 ball handling wiz turned NBA guard, Rafer Alston. “His YouTube videos are nuts. He reminds me of Baron Davis ten years ago. He’s going to be real good”
While Harrow has received most of the hype thanks to his highlight reels going viral on in internet, he’s not the only player that will be looked to for instant production. Lorenzo Brown, Luke Cothron and , if State can land him, CJ Leslie will also be asked to step in immediately and make plays. Talent wise, all of these players are capable of such a task, but mentally the questions will be, ‘can they handle it?’ We asked Julius Hodge, who also came to NC State as the gem of the highly regarded 2001 recruiting class, what he would tell a recruit in the same situation.
“I’ve seen all of these guys play on video and they all can really play. This class coming in is a good class. It’s not just one player, so I would tell them to rely on your teammates. When I chose NC State I knew they had other good players coming too, so I didn’t feel like it was all on me. All the pressure isn’t going to be on just one person. They’ll be able to go into this together. That’s important. They’ll be good. They already have some real good frontcourt players that can go get it and they’ve already been through the tough times so they’ll be just as hungry.”
Hodge would know. He came in with even loftier expectations than Harrow holds and delivered every step of the way, on his way to being recognized as one of the top Pack players of all-time.
His situation mirrors Harrow’s in that both embraced the red and white before stepping foot on campus. Hodge went on record as a senior in high school as saying “He wasn’t leaving NC State until he wins a national championship.” Harrow has talked about bringing NC State back to the promised land as well, and has even written a letter to Wolfpack fans, reminding them to be patient with head coach Sidney Lowe. It’s not only the talent that a player like Harrow possesses that excites the fans in Raleigh, it’s also the confidence he’s shown by being unafraid to talk about making NC State a winning program again. This is the type of thing that has everyone anticipating the arrival of this 2010 class…even Hodge himself.