Projected by most as a late-first or second-round pick,the 6-foot-9 Leslie's versatile skill set has plenty of NBA teams intrigued. Due to a wrist injury, the former NC State star was forced to sit out the draft combine skill workouts... a setback as he had hoped to raise his professional stock as much as possible.
Leslie was visibly unhappy about sitting out, missing the opportunity to compete with and against the rest of the draft class. Scouts have questioned his consistency and mental approach to the game. The combine would have given him a chance to answer some of those doubts.
However, Leslie was able to participate in athletic testing, and he also sat down for one-on-one interviews with NBA executives, a critical piece of the evaluation process.
"I think the biggest thing for me is to let teams get to know me," said Leslie. "I want them to see what type of person I am."
Given Leslie's frame and length, he's a unique prospect with a chance to pay dividends later in the draft. His physical gifts are professional quality and were certainly on display.
Leslie, who measured in at 6-foot-8.75 (in shoes) and 209 pounds, had a 7'2.25" wingspan with a 32.5-inch standing vertical and 40.5-inch max vertical. His 10.19-second lane agility run was No. 1 overall at the combine, and his 3.1-second 3/4 court sprint ranked No. 2 overall at the combine. In fact, Draft Express tabbed Leslie the No. 3 overall athlete based on a composite of all the numbers.
When asked how his game might translate at the next level, he had his sights set high.
"I pattern myself after guys like Rudy Gay and Paul George," Leslie said. "Point forwards and combo guards. I don't want to be a 3 full time. I want to play both forward spots and just be a basketball player, wherever I'm needed. That's important to me."
At NC State, Leslie showed his ability to score around the basket. His size and quickness made him a tough matchup for forwards. At the professional level, he'll likely need to extend his range and knock down more jumpers to maximize his stock.
"I'm a good shooter," said Leslie. "I just need get more confidence during the game, taking those types of shots. I didn't really shoot much at the college level, so I just want to improve in that area."
Leslie has been working out in Los Angeles with Washington Wizards point guard and good friend John Wall, his former high school teammate at Word of God Academy. He'll continue to rehab his wrist and improve his game leading up to next month's draft.
Reflecting on his time with the Wolfpack, Leslie was candid. Though the former McDonald's All-American hoped to turn pro earlier, the back-to-back tournament trips with the Wolfpack remain a highlight of his career.
"I can't say I expected to stay for three years," he said. "Things happened, but I felt like I did the right thing for the right reasons. I made calculated decisions.
"I was able to show I got better each year, and that's the main thing, my improvement. I helped bring the program back, I was a significant factor in helping us get back on the right path."
And no matter where he lands in the draft, that part of Leslie's legacy won't change.