Over his last 11 games, Leslie averaged 18.3 points and 9.1 rebounds while shooting a blistering 58% from the field.
Pack Pride spoke this morning with Lisa Leslie, C.J.'s mother, as C.J. contemplates declaring for the NBA draft.
"Right now we're getting all the pieces to the puzzle," said Mrs. Leslie. "We're trying to weigh all the options. What will be the best thing for him to do? We just want to make the right decision.
"He has not declared for the draft and we're not even sure if he will declare. Personally, I think declaring is a great option because it will enable you to gather the most information, but we haven't decided to do that because we know you can only declare and withdraw once. If C.J. does declare, we will gather all the feedback and whatever is the best decision for him we will do that and go on from there."
Mrs. Leslie said the family has been in constant discussions with NC State head coach Mark Gottfried.
"We are going to heavily lean on coach Gottfried," she said. "We know he is sincere, and we know he is looking out for C.J.'s best interest.
"When we talked with coach Gottfried the other day, we let him know that we appreciate all his input, and he said he will support C.J. 100%. We know that if he came back to State it would be a win-win situation as well, so now it just comes down to making the best decision."
First-round NBA draft choices are assigned salaries according to their draft position. For instance, the first overall pick receives more than the second pick, the second more than the third, etc.. A first-round draft pick's contract is for two years, with a team option for the third and fourth seasons.
Because first-round draft picks receive guaranteed contracts, and second-rounders do not, it is ideal for an early-entry player to project as a first-round pick to make the leap. However, some have set guidelines for where they want to be selected to make that decision.
According to Mrs. Leslie, that hasn't firmly been discussed by the Leslie family but is something they will consider.
"Obviously, we would love to hear that he would be a lottery pick," she said. "That would make this decision much easier. I know he wants to be a first-round pick 100%... you have to be a first-rounder, but we don't know for sure yet what that cut-off for making the decision will be. Personally, as far as slot-wise, for me I would say top 20 or above, but that is just for me.
"Again, we aren't there yet and still do not even know if C.J. is going to declare this year, we're hoping to finalize that by April 2nd, I believe that is the date we need to let them know by."
Players who are interested in entering the NBA draft have until April 3rd to submit an application for feedback from the NBA Undergraduate Advisory Committee. The committee then must submit their data back to the student-athlete by April 6th. That information will include reports from NBA GMs and scouting departments on the student-athlete's potential draft possibilities.
According to the NCAA, students must withdraw from the draft by April 10th, but the NBA's early entry deadline isn't until April 29th. It is confusing, but Draft Express did a great job of breaking down the process.
"We know we would have to make a final decision before April 10th, but we're hoping to know before then if we can," said Mrs. Leslie. "Like I said, it's a win-win situation because of the current situation at State with what coach Gottfried is building and what we have coming back."
Mrs. Leslie acknowledges that coach Gottfried has played a vital role in C.J.'s development on and off the court, and they are going to consider the potential upside of returning to NC State for another season.
"That's some of the things we've talked with coach Gottfried about in terms of returning," she said. "C.J. has started becoming a leader and he is really working hard. He was really putting his best foot forward and it is showing on the court. I think it would just pick up from there as he continues to grow and mature.
"There is a comfort level with coach Gottfried. One of the things he did when he took over was spend time with each of the young guys and get to know them personally... it clicked and that's why it is a perfect fit.
"I think coach Gottfried has a great class coming in, and I think the Pack is back. It's a win-win situation with who is there and the other guys coming in."