Early: "It's Been Tremendous"

One of Mark Gottfried's first moves when he took over as head coach at NC State was hiring long-time friend and former assistant Orlando Early.

Early, who spent last season as an assistant at South Carolina, quickly accepted Gottfried's offer, and in days he was on NC State's campus wearing the Red and White.

"It's been tremendous," said Early. "It's exciting. NC State is a great place to be, and trust me, it's a great job to have. What makes it special for me is I'm able to work with my friends. It's been really good for me."

With an impressive resume that includes assistant coaching stints at Charlotte, Alabama, and South Carolina, Early has earned a reputation for being a terrific recruiter. He's already making his presence felt in the state of North Carolina, as he is the chief recruiter for local standouts Rodney Purvis, Anton Gill and Tyrek Coger. All three prospects have spoken highly of Early and NC State and all have the Wolfpack high on their college lists.

Early believes that a major role in recruiting is the resources you have at your disposal, and he thinks NC State has the assets needed to land the top players in the country.

"First of all the NC State name is big," said Early. "NC State is known, not just throughout North Carolina and the ACC region, but throughout the country.

"Our league is so strong and that is a plus as well. Basketball is it in the ACC... it's huge."

"It's been interesting to talk to kids and instantly they understand who we are and respect our league," he added. "Once we have kids interested it is our job to show them how exciting it would be to be a part of this as we build to win championships.

"Honestly, my interactions with kids and coaches have been great because they know about NC State and are very receptive. They appreciate the call and definitely have an interest. There has been an automatic interest when we've reached out."

Mark Gottfried pursued Early so quickly because he knows his value as a recruiter and assistant coach.

"Orlando was on my staff for four years at Alabama and he is one of the best assistants I've ever had," Gottfried said when he announced the hiring of Early. "He played a vital role during our most successful years, including our run to the Elite Eight in 2004.

"He's been a successful head coach - he was the coach of the year in the Sun Belt Conference. He's also a tremendous recruiter and will have a great relationship with our players. I'm very excited to have him join us here at NC State."

The added experience Early acquired while serving as head coach at Louisiana-Monroe should also benefit him as an assistant.

"It's going to definitely make me a better assistant," he said. "Being a head coach for five years, I understand how important my assistants were to me. I'm going to better this time around due to those experiences.

"It's a great experience, being able to run your own program. Now I understand what is on coach Gottfried's plate, what he has to do, and how I can help him."

Because Early values team chemistry, he knew the Wolfpack staff had to come on board and not only recruit top talent but also recruit the current talent on the roster. The players already at NC State have to buy into coach Gottfried and his staff's philosophy, and according to Early the willingness to do so is there.

"I think any time you meet someone for the first time there is an awkward quietness," he said. "We were all trying to feel each other out, but I think the guys want to win. I know they do. They want to be successful, and they are excited about the change. Now it's time to get to work."

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