Where is Julius Hodge? Since starting out this site a year ago, there is not a question that we have been asked more often. Believe us, we tried our best to track down the NC State great, but Hodge has been all over the world chasing his dream. We finally caught up with him last weekend and he was certainly excited to get to have a little contact with his favorite fans, the Wolfpack fans. The 6’7 Harlem native, came to Raleigh in 2001 and helped turn a program with a faint pulse into a sweet 16, national contender. Hodge was a fan favorite, with his quick wit and his allegiance to NC State he was loved by his teammates, NC State fans, and anyone else who had a chance to hear him speak or watch him play. After he graduated, he was the 20th selection in the 2005 NBA draft by the Denver Nuggets. After being traded to the Bucks in 2007 and dropped soon after, Hodge started on a worldwide journey to achieve his dreams of being a star in the NBA. From the NBDL, to France, to Australia, and hopefully soon, back to the states, Julius Hodge hasn’t let anything or anyone stop him from getting to where he wants to go. We spoke to Julius about his journey, his life outside of basketball and NC State. So, without further ado, here is our conversation with NC State legend, Julius Hodge.
PI: So, what have you been up to these last few years since you left NC State?
JH: This past year, actually I finished up in France. Then got invited to sumer camp with the Bulls, and that didn’t work out. They basically told me that they wanted to play their younger guys and that I wouldn’t have played much so I decided against it. Since then I’ve really tried to stay hidden from the NBA and polish up my game so I can come back strong. Right now I’m in Australia again playing for the Melbourne Tigers.
PI: You had such a dominant college career but haven’t yet been able to break into the NBA, what do the NBA scouts tell you that you need to do in order to get that break?
JH: Work on my jumper. That’s really it. It’s been the same thing everytime. So right now I’m really working hard with my shooting coach here and have polished up my jumper. I’ve always been able to do the other stuff and have tried to be a good leader. I like working with the younger guys and helping them reach their potential.
PI: You have a new blog launching in the next few days. I know the Wolfpack fans are happy, but what made you decide to start one up and what are your goals with it?
JH: Oh yea, right now the blog is almost ready to launch. I’m just putting a few more updates on it and some more video and stuff. I think it’s a good way to keep people updated on what I’m doing and it gives me a way to interact with the fans. I have a lot of things, like workouts and shooting videos on there. It gives me a way to showcase my new jumper haha.
PI: What are your goals going forward, basketball wise?
JH: I definitely want to work back to the NBA and back to the states. I feel like with my skill set, it’s where I need to be. I know the 1 thing is my shooting and I’m definitely putting in the efforts to get back.
PI: What are your goals gong forward, outside of basketball?
JH: Well, right now, during the Christmas season especially, I think giving back to less fortune is really important. Trying to give kids a good Christmas. Some kids miss out, or don’t know what a real Christmas can be like, so I try to help whenever I can. I’ve always believed that looking out for one another is real important. I think it’s the way everyone should be.
I also am very involved with the African education initiative. Every summer we go to the Congo and help the children build schools and get books. It’s really a great program. We also help them create solar energy and try to do different things to help them grow.
PI: That’s really incredible! I doubt many people knew you were involved with that. Now, something people did know you were involved with is NC State University. You spend four very successful years there. Can you talk about your time there and what NC State means to you?
JH: Oh man NC State means the world to me. It really helped mold me to the man I am today. It was easily the most fun 4 years of my life. Great times, great people. I still have great friends there. I love the Pack I want to come back and be the head coach of the Pack one day. Of course, my daughter will be playing tennis there and some basketball too.
PI: So your daughter is a tennis player? That’s interesting. How’d she get into that?
JH: Haha. Oh yeah, oh yeah. She’ll just do whatever daddy does. If she sees me playing tennis she’ll play tennis, but she sees me playing basketball a lot so of course she wants to do that too. I actually took a karate class with her. I mean she’ll just do whatever daddy is doing haha.
PI: Talk a little about what it’s been like becoming a father?
JH: Man, becoming a dad is the one of greatest feelings ever. You don’t think u could love anyone as much as you love your mom, but then this little person comes into your life and I love her more than anything.
PI: Do you still keep up with any former players?
JH: Oh yeah. Mostly I keep up with the guys that are still around NC State, Tony Bethel, Jordan Collins, Levi Watkins, me and Levi are real close and Engin Atsur, but he’s still in Turkey playing. Oh and my man Will Roach of course.
PI: Being all the way on the other side of the world, are you still able to keep up with the Wolfpack?
JH: Oh of course. I mean, I have to keep up with the Pack. Since I’ve left I’ve gotten to see a lot of the games on TV. I have “The Sling Box” on my laptop, so I have all my cable channels wherever I go. This year I’ve been really busy and haven’t really gotten a chance to see the team. How are we looking?
PI: They’re actually looking pretty good. They lost to a good Northwestern team that I could really see making the tournament, and then beat a Marquette team that was pretty heavily favored. They might not have the most talent in the ACC, but you’d be hard pressed to find a team that plays harder then they do.
JH: Oh ok. That’s what’s up! They beat Marquette, huh? I’m definitely going to have to catch the next game.
PI: So Julius, you had a lot of bigtime plays and big moments in yoru career. What would you say this most memorable is?
JH: Oh wow. Man, this is a hard one. Off the top of my head I’d have to say my freshman year, the shot against Maryland in the acc tournament that I hit. The game where I was feeling the best, I mean, I could easily say UCONN but I expected us to win that game so much, that it wasn’t a surprise to me. Maybe, when we beat UVA my freshman year when they had Roger Mason and that loaded team. Man, I really don’t know. There’s so many it’s hard to pick just one out.
PI: You’ve been all over the world these past few years. How hard has it been to get acclimated and adjust to each new culture and country?
JH: Oh man, in Europe it was tough because of the language barrier. Plenty times, I mean plenty of times, I’m eating steak or chicken and it’s real good, but then later I find out I’m eating rabbit. Haha. That kept happening. . Australia is easier because everyone speaks English. Everyone’s nice and they fall in love with the American culture for sure.
PI: How have you been accepted in Australia? Do you have the same type of popularity that you had at NC State?
JH: Haha. Well yeah, they show a lot of love over here. Not from my ex-team the the 36ers, but yeah, I’m probably the most notable players over here so they show a lot of love.
PI: Where do you see yourself after basketball?
JH: I see myself coaching. I want to just grow old and see myself, wherever I go, take the youngest player and be a tutor and help him along the way. Help the younger guys be better as basketball players but also better as humans.
PI: And where do you see yourself coaching?
JH: Oh, NC State baby…I still bleed that Wolfpack red! You know I have to!
PI: Haha, well thanks so much Julius! We really appreciate you taking time out of your day to catch up with us. Is there anything you want to leave the Woflpack fans with?
JH: Wolfpak fans,
I love you guys and I always will. Keep supporting our young team. We are young but we got some great players and we’re going to make a run for it this year!
**We’d like to thank Julius for taking the time to talk with us and wish him the best of luck in achieving all his goals in basketball and in life.
Justin Gainey Named Associate Head Coach at Marquette
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.
Dennis Smith Jr. Showing Love to Fayetteville in the Midst of Covid-19
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.
Here’s a quote from Dennis Smith Jr. on his donation: “Fayetteville and basketball have given so much to me…. I wanted to show support for the real heroes during these tragic times – the first responders.” Smith Jr.’s full quote, via the Knicks, is here: https://t.co/EtvF1LhVKh pic.twitter.com/G1RpvhGTjF
— Ian Begley (@IanBegley) March 27, 2020
Andrew Knizner Enters 2020 as the #6 Prospect in the Cardinals Organization
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.
Will Wilson Enters 2020 as the #10 Prospect in the Giants Organization
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.