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The New Cat Leads The Pack

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When Anthony Barber came to NC State as a 5 star point guard, the fans knew a few things about him. For one, he was quick and I mean uber-quick, hence the nickname Cat. They also knew that he had broken Allen Iverson’s high school scoring record and that he very nearly committed to Louisville and Rick Pitino.

Now, don’t get us wrong, Gottfried gets a lot of good recruits, but he doesn’t necessarily make a habit out of landing 5 stars (aside from a few coaches, no one does). That is why when Gottfried landed Barber the fans expected a lot. Coupled with the aforementioned facts, Barber was the first highly touted true 5 star PG NC State had landed in a very long time.

At the time, State had Tyler Lewis who was another pretty highly touted kid coming out of high school and as a sophomore was being looked at as the future PG for the Pack. This put both players in a strange situation that really hindered both of them and cost them a real year of growth. Lewis was a kid who never in his life had to fear another PG taking his playing time and Cat was coming off of smashing a former NBA All-Star’s scoring record. Both felt they should be NC State’s leading man.

LEWIS OR BARBER?
Gottfried had his hands full with this situation. Lewis was the more steady PG at the time, but his size and quickness wouldn’t allow him to be as dynamic a scorer or defender as Cat. Lewis was obviously the better game manager while Barber was still just a raw athlete. This led to problems. Gottfried was asking two underclassmen to act like upperclassmen and fight for their spots. At first it was great, they could play together as interchangeable guards, but that quickly changed when faced with adversity. Lewis started getting beat on defense…enter Barber. Barber took the reigns for a time which sent Lewis’ confidence into a tailspin. He struggled mightily and when Cat started showing his flaws against tougher opponents, Gottfried turned back to Lewis, but Lewis was already shaken and questioning his role with the team. When he went back to Cat, he found a PG who was questioning everything as well and had lost his shot as well as his swagger. He was used to scoring at will, but the fans wanted more of a true PG. Lewis was that, but fans wanted a better athlete who could lock down opposing guards. Were the fans expecting too much, or were neither of these players actually ready for prime time?

READY OR NOT, CAT HANDED THE REIGNS
When the season ended Lewis saw the writing on the wall. It was either him or Cat and he wasn’t sticking around to find out the answer. This left Barber as the lone starting PG for this season, but his confidence was still shaken. He was being forced to change his approach to the game. No longer could he just breeze by defenders for uncontested layups, or toy with opposing guards until he felt like pulling up for an open jumper. Guards were quicker, stronger and more athletic. He was being bumped off balance by stronger defenders and the bigs in the middle were helping over to block most of his layup attempts. There was a point when Barber finally realized that his attempts to be a go-to scorer were futile. With Lacey, Turner and other weapons around him he might just need to turn into a distributor. So he tried.

BUILDING BARBER
Barber stopped attacking, he stopped shooting and he became a passer and a defender. Barber was trying to become a true PG, but the fact was that he didn’t quite understand exactly what that was. It’s real easy to talk about, or describe what a true PG is supposed to do, but becoming one is no easy feat. You have to have instincts of a point guard. You have to drive to score and in a split second read the defense’s rotation and switch your mindset to ‘drive to create.’ You have to know where all 5 defenders are and the other 4 of your teammates are. You have to anticipate and sometimes dictate the defense’s movement with look aways or  mis-direction to open passing lanes that currently aren’t there. All of that happens within a split-second. For Barber, that depth of understanding and anticipation wasn’t quite there yet.

At a point this season Cat was even benched in favor of Lacey at the point. State simply needed more playmakers on the floor and with Barber just passing the ball around the perimeter, he was expendable. But don’t discount this time in his development. This was a very important phase for him. Barber was learning the position. He had played as the full-on scoring guard and when forced to abandon that style, he had gone polar opposite into the pass only point guard. For any great PG, this phase of learning to pass and create must occur. Some have it early on in high school when they realize that scoring isn’t going to be their forte. However, as a star scorer his entire career, it’s likely Cat never had this chance to develop skills such as pace control, game management or creating for his teammates.

Being benched was just another blow and many wondered if this was it. Actually, it could have been. Cat could have walled up, shut down and given up on this program. As much heat as he’s taken from some fans, as critical as some media members have been of his ability as a true PG (us included), and with losses piling up down the stretch, he could have mailed it in…He didn’t.

CAT LEADS THE PACK
Cat points to the closed-door team meeting the guys had prior to the Georgia Tech game as a turning point. They aired out everything and told him if this team was going to be successful he was going to have to be the catalyst. But you don’t just flick on a light switch in this game. You don’t just change your style of play from one day to the next and become a success. What Cat didn’t realize is that his year long struggle dating back to last year is what prepared him for this opportunity. He was forced to learn and understand the intricacies of a true PG. Someone who’s only  goal is to win. If that means create for others, if that means score yourself or if that means lock down on defense. A PG must know what the team wants and be able to give it to them at that very moment. That was there, it had been building since he abandoned his role as go-to scorer. But of course, his ability to score the basketball never left and now it was time to couple that with his understanding of his position to lead the Wolfpack back into the tournament picture. His team provided him the only fuel he needed…their confidence.

He dropped 23 points and dished out 7 assists(with only 1 TOs) in the OT win over Georgia Tech. When no one else showed up against Wake Forest, it was Barber who led them to a near 20 point comeback. He finished with 28 points, 4 assists and not a single TO. Then against the nations best defense he again was productive going for 11 points and 2 assists without a single TO. That led to the game State fans will look back on as Barber’s true arrival, not just as a productive PG, but as a team leader.

In last night’s upset win over #9 ranked Louisville, Barber was the deciding factor. It wasn’t his best shooting night and he didn’t rack up big assist totals, but if you watched the game you understood. He was in control. He knew what his team needed when they needed it and he was able to deliver at every turn.

“My confidence keeps getting higher and higher,” said Barber “Coaches keep telling me, `Be me. Be Cat and do what Cat does best.’ I think I’ve taken that under consideration.”

Barber finished with 21 points, 4 assists and only 2 TOs. That’s this third 20 point game in his last four games and 17 assists to only 3 TOs in that span. But to really understand that he’s arrived you have to watch. You had to see him making plays down the stretch whenever the momentum started to switch back to Louisville. You had to see him hunting down the basketball as the clock ticked down so he was the one deciding the game at the free throw line (where he went 10-15). You had to see him hustle back down court on a Louisville fast break with 2 minutes left as they were looking for a 3 to cut the State lead to 5, and pick off the pass and squash the run.

THE PUZZLE COMING TOGETHER 
Barber has always been the missing piece to Gottfried’s puzzle and a lot of us are just starting to see that. With his lock down defense, his ability to disrupt defenses, and now his ability to run his basketball team at a true point guard, NC State finally has all the parts to make this motor run right. In true Gottfried fashion this team could be peaking at the right time and players could be falling into their roles down the stretch with Barber leading the way.

But Cat’s transformation is not done, not yet at least. He’s shown he can handle adversity over and over again, but we haven’t seen how he handles success. Someone has to keep this team hungry and it’s not all going to come from Gottfried. The most powerful leaders in basketball are the ones on the floor and Cat now has his chance.

This win, while nice, must be flushed to allow the fire to keep burning. This must be the most intense, hard fought week of practice and a statement must be made against Virginia Tech. Not a simple win in the win column statement, but a pounding felt ’round the ACC. This is Cat’s chance to make a true, ‘here to stay’ type statement and show that this Wolfpack team, once seeminly left for dead,  really does have 9 lives.

 

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wolfpack74
wolfpack74
9 years ago

DanBasset wolfpack74 jimmydean12 First assumption is incorrect, I am not your friend.  Second assumption is your idea of the real world. My world is just as real as yours.

DanBasset
DanBasset
9 years ago

wolfpack74 DanBasset jimmydean12 Call it whatever you want, my friend.  Those of us living in the real world call in “whining.”

gdtann
gdtann
9 years ago

wolfpack74 You missed the entire point.  What was his point totals in those games?  Most of them layups, thats great! We weren’t getting layups from Cat before.  Of course you overlook the fact that the last two games were against two top 10 defenses in the nation and the best two defenses in the ACC.  UVA has the toughest defense in the league!  So lets not look at all the negatives.  Before those two teams he was 20-38 in the previous three games.  That is 5 star level.  I”m sure nothing will change your mind if you can’t see what… Read more »

wolfpack74
wolfpack74
9 years ago

DanBasset wolfpack74 jimmydean12 No whining here.  I doing the only thing a single person can and that is express one’s opinion.  If you don’t like it, then get off the thread.

Wolfer96
Wolfer96
9 years ago

wolfpack74 Wolfer96 PackInsider Staff Well I’m not holding my breath on that late tourney run but if they can consistently play like they did against Louisville then anything’s possible.

Wolfer96
Wolfer96
9 years ago

gdtann wolfpack74 You should be Cat Barber’s promoter. Not sure why you are being so defensive about the well deserved criticism of Cat? He has had a few good games this season and the remainder have been forgettable performances. For the majority of the season he dribbled the hell out of the ball and did nothing more than that. So why wouldn’t he hear criticism? Fair or not when you come in a heralded recruit fans are going to have higher expectations. That’s why fans get excited about 5 star recruits. If Cat continues to improve and play up to his… Read more »

DanBasset
DanBasset
9 years ago

wolfpack74 jimmydean12 Jesus Christ dude, do you need some Midol or something?  If you hate our coach and all of our players so much then go cheer for UNC with the rest of the bandwagon fans.  It’s not 1970 anymore and we’re not currently national title contenders, but we’re moving in the right direction.  Get on board or get off, but nobody wants to hear so much whining from one person.

wolfpack74
wolfpack74
9 years ago

Wolfer96 PackInsider Staff I agree.  When he’s hot he’s hot but when he’s not he keeps shooting.  We have several players that can score.  They just don’t seem to put it together very often.  Hopefully they can put it together for the final run to the tourney.

Wolfer96
Wolfer96
9 years ago

PackInsider Staff I thought Cat played his best game this season but the team as a whole played great. I thought Freeman did a hell of a job on defense and scoring down low. But the key to the game was Turner. Turner did not take 12+ shots and he mixed it up by scoring inside/outside. 

Turner single handedly lost several of the past few games with the large number of bricks he was throwing up.

Wolfer96
Wolfer96
9 years ago

wolfpack74 I agree, we need to see more before forming any real opinions on Cat. Personally, I don’t believe he is playing better because he is shooting more but more due to him regaining confidence. How long he maintains that confidence is anyone’s guess. I have to say his last game was impressive. Especially his passing.

Lacey should be taking the most shots on this team.

Wolfer96
Wolfer96
9 years ago

wormncsu Fanbases are the same everywhere. When you win fans love you and when you don’t they despise you. I don’t blame the fans for guys leaving. If a kid takes fan comments so personally that he has to transfer, I would argue that he is not mentally strong enough to be on the team in the first place. I think we just live in a world now where coaches leave all the time for more money and kids leave because either their expectations are generally not realistic or they are not happy with the role they are playing on… Read more »

gdtann
gdtann
9 years ago

wolfpack74 gdtann DanBasset Well we agree on one thing.  Our bigs need work in the paint but bigs usually take time and I like the approach gott has taken.  Get some guys down there that can defend (Anya and Freeman) and some guys that can score ( Abu and Washington) and teach the defenders post moves and work on the scorers on defense.  That way you have a mixture of guys.  Remember none of our Bigs are upperclassmen, three sophmores and one freshman.  All of the sophmores are better than they were last year except maybe Freeman, havent seen much improvement in… Read more »

wolfpack74
wolfpack74
9 years ago

gdtann wolfpack74 DanBasset You young fans get on the bandwagon with a single big victory.  These victories are wiped out by bad losses to Wake, Clemson, and  Wofford, Look at the overall progress of this team.  At 15-11, 19 wins before the ACC tournament isn’t going to happen and all you bandwagoners will have jumped off again.  I die red and white, so I tired of this lackluster effort.  With the guards we have, if we had some real improvement in the bigs, we would have a much better record now.  We need real big guys, with real big guys moves down… Read more »

wolfpack74
wolfpack74
9 years ago

DanBasset wolfpack74 I really enjoyed the last Wake and Clemson games, didn’t you?  Gott’s NCAA record without Sidney’s recruits is terrible.  I guess you really enjoyed last years NCAA tournament debacle, I know I didn’t.  Be realistic, the program is better than Sidney’s, but no where it should be with all of these four star and up recruits passing thru.

wolfpack74
wolfpack74
9 years ago

jimmydean12 wolfpack74 We were in the mix for 23 players in 2015.  How many did we get?  Probably zero is my guess.  We need to stop wasting time on recruiting outside the southeast and Atlantic region.  Whom was the last recruit from anywhere west of the Mississippi?  I would love to see Barber become the five star player that we were lead to believe he was.

DanBasset
DanBasset
9 years ago

wolfpack74 DanBasset You sent to State over four decades ago.  A lot changes in that amount of time.  We are in the process of rebuilding and Gottfried is the right guy to spearhead that effort.  Three tourney appearances in a row might not be good enough for you, but it’s good enough for me after watching Sendek and Lowe head a program mired in mediocrity for most of my life.  I am more excited about State basketball than I think I’ve ever been.  I can see this program improving, especially since Lowe’s recruits left the program.  I loved Wood, Leslie, Brown,… Read more »

wormncsu
wormncsu
9 years ago

Wow people. That is the problem with our fan base for the most part we are either super high or super low on everything from the players to coaches to facilities etc. We need realize we as fans have helped push some players to transfer just as much as gott has. They can read our comments as much as we can. For the ones wanting Lewis back most of you were probably bashing him last year as a defensive liability. (Which he was.) Lewis was to small and slow to be a point guard of any caliber in the acc.… Read more »

jimmydean12
jimmydean12
9 years ago

wolfpack74 jimmydean12  I said that State was in the mix for DSJ, not that he had signed a LOI. Secondly, the last four games of which I spoke of, Barber is shooting nearly 50% at 30-61.

gdtann
gdtann
9 years ago

wolfpack74 gdtann DanBasset You are making a lot of assumptions.  All of them negative.  How about you get a grip?  You don’t know what you are talking about and just realize that, sit down, and enjoy the games.   I never said we are getting Ingram or Carter.  I said who knows it could happen.  A lot of things are in the balance right now.  But what I did say is even if we didn’t get Ingram or Carter we’ll still have a good group next year.   If anyone transfers its likely to be Freeman but I don’t see it.  Everyone… Read more »

wolfpack74
wolfpack74
9 years ago

jimmydean12 Don’t kid yourself that Smith is going to State.  When Kentucky, Duke, NC, and Kansas come knocking, State does not have a chance.  I would rather see Lacey double his number of shots, not Barber.

jimmydean12
jimmydean12
9 years ago

Packinsider Staff, Cat averaged 7.4 shot attempts per game through the first 21 games. That has more than doubled the last 4 games. He’s averaging better than 15 attempts per game over that last 4. So I stand by more “cuffs off” statement. Coach K is a good example of letting players do what they do best. Is he not a good coach because he let players play their game, and don’t try to make them something they are not? State is in the mix for Dennis Smith Junior, don’t expect him to come in and average 10+ assists per… Read more »

wolfpack74
wolfpack74
9 years ago

Wishful thinking guys.  We don’t need a scoring machine that shoots 10-29 in the last two games.

wolfpack74
wolfpack74
9 years ago

You guys are in to wishful thinking.  He’s 10-29 shooting the last two games, with most of them layups.  Over the last five games, he is a more respectable 30-67 but the team is 2-3, not exactly five star level.  One good game of leadership and beating the pressure does not make a believer of me.  Lead us to the sweet sixteen and I may change my mind.

PackInsider Staff
9 years ago

jimmydean12 The cuffs were off of Barber last season and early in this season, but what you were getting was poor shooting %’s and mounting turnovers. We were critical because we understood how good he could be and how important he was to this team.  This Barber you’re seeing is scoring, creating for his team, making smart decisions and making winning plays down the stretch. The ‘cuffs off’ Barber you’re talking about was doing none of these things last season and early in this season. He had a one track mind to score. We were critical because we knew he… Read more »

jimmydean12
jimmydean12
9 years ago

Packinsider Staff, no one was more critical of Barber than you guys. I’m glad Gott finally decided to take the CUFFS off of him! Everyone knew that Barber was a scoring point guard coming in, so why would you try to make him something else? A coach use his player’s strengths, not try to change their game!

wolfpack74
wolfpack74
9 years ago

gdtann wolfpack74 DanBasset You are kidding yourself if you think we will get Ingram or Carter.  With regards to transfers or leaving early, Gott has lost whole recruiting classes at State and at least one transfer each year.  We need to develop the big men.  Washington has shooting capability but Gott seems not to be interested in his shot.  I just think Gott has peaked at State. Time will tell and the AD has a fast trigger.

gdtann
gdtann
9 years ago

wolfpack74 DanBasset how in the world can you say 2016 looks as bad as 2015 when 2016 recruiting is just warming up?  Seriously so much can change between now and april for 2015 and honestly we don’t need any recruits for 2015.  We have no evidence of transfers so far and we lose Lee and Turner but we gain Henderson which will replace Turner and with Lee gone both of the Martin twins will get more burn.  This is really just sensationalist worry for no reason.  And who knows State may pick up Ingram and a PG then this post looks… Read more »

wolfpack74
wolfpack74
9 years ago

DanBasset wolfpack74 We are loosing Turner and Lee and probably a transfer or two.  We need new recruits to continue the flow and fill in the missing pieces.  If you call 15-11 a good record, then you will be happy next year with the same players.  I must be spoiled because when I went to State (70-74) we had  aspiration of perfect seasons and national championships.  Now if we make the tournament, we think that is a successful season.  2016 looks to be just as bad.

wolfpack74
wolfpack74
9 years ago

IanLong wolfpack74 PackInsider Staff That crap happened nearly 25 years ago to State.   You will be negative too after twenty five years of listening to TarHoles and Pukes going off all the time.

gdtann
gdtann
9 years ago

wolfpack74 this is an ignorant statement, is he TJ Warren? no few guys are but he controlled that game when it really could have gotten out of hand.  The biggest thing about playing UofL is not turning the ball over.  Barber defense is great, he is great on the ball in perimeter we haven’t had that in a long time.  We are much better having having barber than lewis.  Allow me to refresh your memory a bit, teams used to Iso lewis just so they can get that matchup.  He was a huge liability on defense, his size just hurt… Read more »

IanLong
IanLong
9 years ago

wolfpack74 PackInsider Staff wolfpack74, I’ll take a stab at your question. One would encourage you to be a little less negative. It’s not healthy. And two: SMU’s self-imposed penalty consisted of of a two-year probationary period, ending March 9, 2013. SMU also reduced its coaching staff’s recruiting time by 15 days and imposed a two-week ban on contacting recruits. NC Statesself-imposed penalties were (info pulled from Statefans: 1. No off-campus recruiting and no official paid visits for the 1989-90 academic year. 2. A limitation on basketball grants-in-aid [scholarships] to 12 for the 1990-91 and 1991-92 academic years. 3. A reduction in… Read more »

DanBasset
DanBasset
9 years ago

wolfpack74 To replace who?  Turner is the only player we’re losing this year (assuming there are no transfers or NBA vacancies) and there aren’t enough minutes to go around as it is.  The entire reason our roster is in such a great place is because of Gott’s “magic.”  We have one of the youngest teams in the P5 and all things considered, we’re doing pretty well for our age.  I think Gott leaves something to be desired with regards to a couple things (e.g., line-up chemistry, late-game tactics), but recruiting is absolutely not one of them.  Henderson is coming in… Read more »

wolfpack74
wolfpack74
9 years ago

PackInsider Staff I have always rooted for Barber and the rest of the pack to play well.  I have done that for forty seven years, just to see it wasted on a brainless play like Martin against Virginia.  Why has it taken so long for a program to recover from bad coaches and AD’s.  Look at what SMU has done in a short period of time, what takes so long at State?

Now for Barber, I expect him to revert back or take way to many shots against VT.  Hope not, go PacK.

IanLong
IanLong
9 years ago

PackInsider Staff Agreed PackInsider. And we’re still developing as a program. I know that sounds crazy to some people who feel that we should be able to wave a wand and smoothly transition from one coach to another. We lost a lot with all of the nonsense that played out with our late and great Jimmy V. I don’t care what anyone says, we’re still recovering from those shenanigans that occurred back when we placed self-imposed sanctions for things that don’t even pale in comparison to the transgressions by a certain school that will go unnamed. This is a process.… Read more »

PackInsider Staff
9 years ago

Just a straight up fact…NC State does not win last night without Barber. Say what you want about him (we have been vocal about his struggles in the past) but he’s stepping into a leadership role that has been vacant all season. If State is going to make a run, you’re going to have to root for Barber to play well.

wolfpack74
wolfpack74
9 years ago

And what’s up with not getting any recruits for 2015.  Gott has lost his magic.

wolfpack74
wolfpack74
9 years ago

He shot 5 for 15.  Not very impressive.  All that does is eliminates shots for Lacey and Turner (when he was healthy).  Good defense sometimes.  Free throws down the stretch is pretty good.  Overall not performing at a five star level.  The team may have been better off with Barber transferring and Lewis staying.  State really needs to hire an assistant coach that knows how to coach up and train the big guys down low.  We never recruit and get the big guys that the top teams seem to get.  Four guards and one big is not going to get… Read more »

NC State Basketball

NC State Men’s Basketball is Tied for the 20th Most NCAAT Wins Since 2020

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According to College Basketball Report, NC State’s Men’s Basketball team is tied for the 20th most NCAA Tournament wins since 2020.

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Yes, I’m fully aware that all 4 of those wins took place in this years NCAA Tournament, but I don’t care. STATS ARE STATS!

ACC Teams with the Most NCAAT Wins Since 2020

1. Duke – 8
2. UNC – 7
2. Miami – 7
4. NC State – 4
5. Clemson – 3

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NC State Basketball

NC State’s Men’s Basketball Team Produced 2 of the MOST Watched Games of 2023-24, College or Pro

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The Basketball season is officially over, collegiately and professionally. Looking back at the data of viewers for Men’s & Women’s Basketball, as well as the NBA, the NC State Men’s Basketball team played in two of the Top-10 most watched games of the 2023-24 basketball season.

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NC State vs. Duke in the Elite 8 was the 2nd most watched basketball game of the year with 15.1 million viewers, trailing only Iowa vs. South Carolina in the Women’s College National Championship game. The Wolfpack’s game vs. the Boilermakers in the Final 4 ranked 9th, with 11.5 million viewers.

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NC State Basketball

DJ Burns talks keys to recent weight loss during Pre-Draft Workout with Pacers

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Pack fans have been wondering how after 2 years in Raleigh, DJ Burns finally figured out how to drop weight, and keep it off. He spoke to reporters during his pre-draft workout with the Pacers.

“Playing at the pace we played today. Doing the work we did today. I probably would have left out with a full body cramp a couple months ago.”

“Keep on improving my pace. Adjusting to the level and speed I’m going to have to play at, at all times.”

“Lots of running. Lots of figuring out which foods I can no longer have, which were almost all of them that I liked. So, just finding new ones that I do like that go along with the plan.”

“This is the third (workout), and I actually travel to Milwaukee tomorrow to workout with the Bucks. And then some more stuff being confirmed that I won’t speak on just yet.”

Burns has worked out for the Lakers, Pacers and Hornets up to this point.

Plus more…

Listen to the full interview above.

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NC State Basketball

DJ Horne reads his new children’s book “Why Not Me? Why Not Us?” to Wake County Students

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DJ Horne was a huge reason NC State overcame the odds to win the ACC Tournament this past season. Now he’s trying to pass on the ‘Why not us!?” psyche to elementary school kids.

Horne was at Jones Dairy Elementary to read his new children’s book “Why not me? Why not us?” to students yesterday.

This is a pretty cool moment for Horne, who attended elementary school in Wake County (Reedy Creek Elementary School). He now gets to go back and tell his story, in hopes of inspiring the next generation.

The book is based loosely on his life growing up, and the adversity he overcame to become a champion.

Pick up the book today at Amazon.

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