Lewis: "I Can Be A Leader"

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Tyler Lewis wasn't sure what to expect when he made the decision to transfer from Forsyth Country Day School to Oak Hill Academy prior to his senior season.

Tyler Lewis wasn't sure what to expect when he made the decision to transfer from Forsyth Country Day School to Oak Hill Academy prior to his senior season.

He had developed a reputation for being one of the North Carolina's top high school players, he had earned multiple scholarship offers, and he was already committed to NC State. Lewis didn't have anything left prove, but it wasn't about that for him.

He believed that transferring to the Virginia prep powerhouse would further develop him as a player, and NC State head coach Mark Gottfried agreed.

"I think it was the greatest move he's ever made," Gottfried said. "I think it took his game to another level. He competed against the best teams in the country, the best players in the country, and from a confidence standpoint he went up against the best and conquered them, quite honestly.

"In his mind, he began to really believe more in his ability. I think it was a great move for him and it paid off for him in a big way."

"Coach is definitely right," said Lewis. "I wouldn't be where I am today if it wasn't for going to Oak Hill. I committed here when I was at Forsyth, but I wouldn't have the leadership capabilities... and having played against the best competition in practice and in games."

Lewis led Oak Hill to a 44-0 record while averaging 12.0 points, 7.9 assists and 2.4 rebounds per game. A McDonald's All-American selection, he was also named 2012 Virginia Gatorade Player of the Year.

"Playing at Oak Hill was a great experience," he said. "I wouldn't change anything about it. I developed more as a player and got to work on my game a lot."

At Gottfried's Monday afternoon press conference he recalled the first time he was able to watch Lewis in action after taking over as Wolfpack head coach. Lewis had already committed to the previous staff at NC State, and new Wolfpack assistants Bobby Lutz and Rob Moxley had recruited him while they were at Charlotte.

"When I got the job Bobby Lutz and Rob Moxley were the two who just kept saying 'Coach, we have to get him. Don't be fooled with how he looks,'" said Gottfried. "The first day I watched him he had just come back from a long AAU trip and he was tired and they weren't playing full court. I'm kind of looking at him like 'Wow, OK, this is our guy, huh?'

"I really wasn't ready to make a judgment right then, but then I watched him play, and when you watch him play the game, it doesn't take long at all. You really start to see how he commands the position. I've watched him play against the best there is and he's played pretty good against them."

What has impressed Gottfried the most about Lewis is his ability to distribute the basketball. At 5-foot-11 he isn't the biggest point guard but he has outstanding vision and is always looking for an open teammate.

"He's as good of an open-floor passer, really a passer in any aspect, that I've had," said Gottfried. "I had Mo Williams, who has done a nice job in the NBA. Tyler's ability to pass the ball is good as anyone I've ever had.

"He finds people in transition, but he makes the right pass to the right guy at the right time. He really passes it well."

"My passing, it's coming along really well," Lewis stated. "I'm getting to know the plays and all the players, and in transition they are all running and know we can get going in transition."

One area that may have surprised Gottfried is how well Lewis has shot the ball in workouts. He can score the basketball, and will need to be able to knock down shots so defenders don't play off him to take away passing lanes.

"He has actually shot the ball pretty well too in our workouts," Gottfried said. "We're not in the heat of the season, but he's done a great job with that as well."

"Coach Gottfried told me when he first got the job and first came to see me that I needed to be able to knock down the 3-point shot consistently," said Lewis. "I've put a lot of shots up everyday, coming in here on the gun... I've just been trying to get better and work on my game."

Wolfpack starting point guard Lorenzo Brown has been sidelined while recovering from knee surgery, but it has allowed Lewis to gain additional experience within the Pack's offense.

"It's been really fun, just getting out here practicing with the team," he said. "I've been able to play with the players a lot more with Lorenzo out, and I can take up a leadership role for the team.

"I can learn the plays and the offense. I can be a leader throughout the whole game and practice."

It sounds like Lewis is about to play a major role for State while in Spain, given the doubts about Brown's availability. However, Gottfried seems confident in his freshman point guard.

"I think he has a really good understanding of the game," Gottfried said. "He's one of those guys that, late in the game, you'll feel real comfortable with him on the floor."

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