Wolfpack Lose Fab Frosh

By Josh Herwitt - September 12, 2007

N.C. State coach Sidney Lowe got some devastasting news Tuesday when he heard that freshman Johnny Thomas will not suit up for the Wolpack this season.

The 6-foot-5 swingman underwent diagnostic arthroscopic surgery last week and still plans to have an additional surgery in the next few months to repair a knee injury that he recently suffered.

"It's a tough break for Johnny and really a tough break for our team," Lowe told the Associated Press. "We were confident that Johnny was going to contribute this season. He will still be involved in everything we do as he goes though his rehab, and hopefully all goes well and he will be ready to go next season."

The Greensboro Day High product averaged 19.2 points and 9.8 last season, guiding the Bengals to a 31-2 overall record and the state championship game after winning the title as a junior.

While the loss of Thomas will hurt Lowe and his team this upcoming year, the Wolfpack do return four players who averaged double-digit points last season, including redshirt sophomore forward Brandon Costner (16.8), senior forward Gavin Grant (14.7), junior forward/center Ben McCauley (14.4) and junior guard Courtney Fells (10.9).

And with the kind of youth coming into the ACC this year, there's no doubt that N.C. State that could be right there behind North Carolina as the second or third best team in the nation' s premiere conference.

That might sound crazy to some of you, but with the way Lowe had his team playing in the ACC Tournament last season, reaching the finals before losing to regular season champs North Carolina, there's hope in Raleigh that that energy will carry over into 2007-08.

The Wolfpack will open up the season with William & Mary coming to the RBC Center on Nov. 15 before heading south to Orlando for the Old Spice Classic, where they'll play either Penn State or South Carolina.

That's only the first couple weeks of the season as N.C. State will face its biggest test of the preseason in East Lansing, Mich. when it meets Michigan State in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge on Nov. 28.

But Lowe and his players shouldn't forget about their Dec. 21 matchup with SoCon favorite and in-state rival Davidson. The Wildcats, after all, return leading scorer Stephen Curry (son of NBA player Dell Curry), who averaged 21.5 points last season along with seniors Jason Richards (13.5), Thomas Sander (13.2) and Boris Meno (11.0).

Just up the road in Durham, Duke's certainly got a lot to prove after last year's NCAA first-round exit to VCU, and while the Blue Devils do have an exciting freshmen trio to go along with the veteran play of Mike Paulus, DeMarcus Nelson, Jon Scheyer and Gerald Henderson (who showed a lot of potential last season and should become a major contributor for Coach K now), it will be a difficult matchup for any team in the nation going up the size, strength and experience of Roy Williams' Tar Heels.

And if there's one thing that no coach, not even Mike Krzyzewski, can teach, it's experience. That, unfortunately, can only come with time.

Posted by Josh Herwitt at 01:41 AM on September 12, 2007

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