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Julius Hodge: Still Helping Raleigh

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This off-season, one of NC State’s all-time greats has come back to Raleigh to give back to the town that helped make him a star.

Julius Hodge spent four years at State helping put the basketball program back on the map ,using not only his talent on the floor, but his quick wit with the media and his heart for the city. Today, after spending five years playing in the NBA and overseas, Hodge is back in Raleigh and using his skill, wit, and heart all over again to help out his school and his city.

This past week Julius held his first annual basketball camp here in Raleigh. Camp24Hodge was a week long skills camp for ages 6-14 where twenty kids learned not only how to win on the court, but off-the-court as well. “It’s not just about teaching them basketball skills.” said Hodge “It’s about showing them how to succeed in life. If you have good manners,  you’re a good person, you always have a smile on your face, you try to do the right thing and you’re hard working then you can pretty much reach and achieve all of the goals you have in life. Pretty much I’m teaching them that through basketball.” The camp took place at Grand Slam USA, only a mile from the arena where Hodge starred for the Wolfpack. Over the week kids from all over the area came to participate, compete and learn from one of the hardest working players out there today.

After four very productive years at NC State Julius was drafted by the Denver Nuggets with the 20th overall pick in the 2005 NBA draft. He spent 2 years between the Nuggets and the Milwaukee Bucks before heading overseas to play in Europe and finally finding a home in Australia with the 36ers. Although Hodge found a great deal of success in Australia, NC State fans had not heard much from their one time fan favorite. That was until this past February when Hodge finally made his way back to Raleigh. “I had been working so hard to reach my goal of playing in the NBA and I’ve been really doing what everyone else wanted me to do in a way.” Hodge explained. “Then one day my wife just said ‘What do you want to do? You do what you want to do.’ I love Raleigh and this is where I wanted to be. I love Harlem but I wanted to come back here and have my camp, and start up some foundations that give back to the community.”

The Jules from Harlem arrived back in Raleigh and immediately picked up where he left off. He connected back with NC State fans through interviews, facebook and the new means of media he’s seemingly become famous for, Twitter.Hodge has become Raleigh’s version of Ocho Cinco in the world of social media. His nearly 1,500 followers can keep track of his daily antics as he updates them with witty one-liners and funny happenings throughout his day. Hodge has used these networks, not only to entertain, but to market two things that are very important to him. His basketball camp and his project “African Education Initiative” where he’s teamed up with Russell Simmons to help bring sustainable energy to the Tonga people in the Congo. He even has an event coming up in the Hamptons on July 3rd to help promote his cause which actually will be covered and aired on the Oxygen Network in coming weeks.

From basketball camps, to his work with the less fortunate, Julius Hodge continues to put a lot of smiles on a lot of faces, and continues to give back to the city and people that gave so much to him.

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Pack in the Pros

Justin Gainey Named Associate Head Coach at Marquette

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Former NC State Point Guard Justin Gainey (1997-00) has been hired by Marquette as their Associate Head Coach, serving along head coach Steve Wojciechowski, the former Duke point guard.

“We are excited to welcome Justin and the Gainey family back to Marquette,” Wojciechowski said.  “Justin is one of the nation’s top rising coaches and his talents, ability to build meaningful relationships and myriad of experiences alongside some of the game’s best teachers will serve our program, and most importantly our players, incredibly well.” (Link)

This isn’t Gainey’s first stint at Marquette, serving as Director of Operations from 2014-17. The past two seasons, Gainey served as an Assistant Coach with Sean Miller at Arizona. Prior to that, he served as an Assistant Coach at Santa Clara for one season with his former head coach at NC State, Herb Sendek.

Gainey’s coaching career began at NC State, where he served as Director of Operations for three seasons (2006-09), and then he went on to work at Appalachian State and Elon as well.

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Dennis Smith Jr. Showing Love to Fayetteville in the Midst of Covid-19

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Former NC State Freshman of the Year Dennis Smith Jr. never forgets where he came from. The New York Knicks Point Guard is always showing love for Fayetteville, North Carolina.

According to Ian Begley, DSJ is providing food vouchers for 575 first responders at Cape Fear Valley Medical Center, and 32 computers for local students in Fayetteville.

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Andrew Knizner Enters 2020 as the #6 Prospect in the Cardinals Organization

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Former NC State Catcher Andrew Knizner enters the 2020 season ranked as the #6 prospect in the Cardinals organization.

Knizner was drafted in the 7th round by St. Louis in 2016, and was called up for the 1st time to the Big Leagues last year, when Yadier Molina was placed on the disabled list.

The jump wasn’t an easy one, with Knizner hitting .226 in 18 games.

Despite some time in the Majors at the end of last season, Knizner will begin 2020 in Triple-A Memphis, where he has already played 83 games, hitting .283.

Cardinals legend Molina is back to full strength, and backup Matt Wieters was signed to a 1-year deal, meaning it’s not quite time for Knizner.

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Will Wilson Enters 2020 as the #10 Prospect in the Giants Organization

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Former NC State All-American Shortstop Will Wilson will is entering the 2020 baseball season ranked as the #10 prospect in the San Francisco Giants organization.

After being drafted by the Angels with the 15th overall pick in the MLB Draft last year, Wilson hit .275 in 46 games of Rookie ball with the Orem Owlz.

In December, the Angels traded him to the Giants.

In his final season at NC State, Wilson led the team with a .335 batting average, 20 doubles, 16 home runs and a .661 slugging percentage, and finished eighth all-time in career doubles (57) and homers (39), and ninth in total bases (409).

Wilson is the 3rd highest draft pick in NC State history, and only the 2nd batter to be drafted in the 1st round, alongside another shortstop who is currently in the league as well: Trea Turner.

According to MLB.com, Wilson is expected to make it to the Majors in 2022.

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