Mark Gottfried picked an inopportune time to reload.
His North Carolina State squad lost the bulk of its key pieces from last season. C.J. Leslie and Lorenzo Brown entered the draft. Richard Howell exhausted his eligibility. And former McDonald’s All-American Rodney Purvis transferred to Connecticut.
The Wolfpack signed a 2013 recruiting class that’s ranked 13th in the country. That will help. But Syracuse, Notre Dame and Pitt will join the ACC next season. That won’t help.
And it won’t ease his plight, especially with the best team in America standing in the Wolfpack’s way.
Gottfried believes that Duke should be the No. 1 team in the country entering next season. Not only does he believe it, he “can’t imagine” any other team holding that slot.
Per David Morrison of the Greensboro News & Record, who attended NC State’s annual summer news conference on Tuesday:
With freshman Jabari Parker and Mississippi State transfer Rodney Hood added to the mix, Gottfried feels as if Duke could have the second and third picks of next year's NBA Draft playing on its perimeter.
"There's a lot of attention around Jabari Parker, but wait until you see Rodney Hood," Gottfried said. "He's that good. They're loaded."
Hood, who injured his Achilles tendon during the Team USA World University Games tryout camp, should be full-speed by the fall.
That's quite a stacked perimeter.
"We'll all have a great time trying to get ready for that," Gottfried said bemusedly.
That's why, when handicapping the league at the beginning of July, Gottfried's eyes are straying to Durham.
"I can't imagine anybody else being picked No. 1 in the country than Duke," Gottfried said.
Now, Gottfried’s praise is valid. Duke will be legit next season.
Parker was the biggest thing in the 2013 class before Andrew Wiggins reclassified. And Hood, if healthy, could be a high-level NBA prospect, too.
But has Gottfried ever been to the state of Kentucky? There are a few teams there that might have a case for No. 1. This guy, John Calipari, signed six McDonald’s All-Americans. In one class.
The Wildcats should be OK, right?
Oh and there is this Louisville squad, too. Some coach named Rick Pitino led that team to the national championship a few months ago, and his program retained multiple key contributors. The Cardinals should be solid, too.
And Kansas has Wiggins. So there’s that. Michigan State, Arizona, Syracuse and Florida will also be in the mix.
Perhaps Gottfried simply, uh, misspoke.