Gottfried: "We Are Excited"

RALEIGH, N.C. -- NC State head coach Mark Gottfried met with the media to discuss Abdul-Malik's decision to return for his junior season and much more.

Your take on the developments of the last three days. 
We are excited about this week obviously, solidifying the roster with Omer and Malik and obviously we're hoping BeeJay will follow through, which we think he will.

We feel good. I've never been one of those guys that has bought into 'the sky is falling,' but at the same time we take a deep breath now and move forward.

How do you feel about the (NBA Draft) process (that allowed Abdul-Malik Abu to weigh his options)? 
I think one thing we all have to understand is this is going to become more of the norm with the new NBA rule. I was in Chicago at the pre-draft camp, there watching Cat and to support Cat, and at the same time I was there with about 10 or 15 other college coaches watching guys in Chicago that had not made a decision yet--whether to stay in or stay out of the draft. I just think it is more of the norm. 

I want those guys like Malik (his players that declare) to be successful and be long-term NBA players. At the same time, I want our team here to also be successful too. Hopefully the process, the way it is now--to give an example with Malik--he kind of evaluated what they said. He was invited to some teams to work out for them. He got to listen to their feedback, and I think the ultimate goal is that it helps everybody... help these guys make their decisions.

I do think it's going to be the norm.

Is this a different time for college basketball and how does it impact your job?
College basketball is just a fluid situation with everybody. You think of all the different things.  We have had close to 1,600 transfers in the last couple of years. You have got that part of the game where a lot of kids are changing schools. You have kids sometimes re-classifying so they can move a year forward. A few years back we never really heard of it very often. Now you have guys who could finish their year and be into this class.

Then you have fifth-year graduate transfers that are more than we have ever seen. Then you have guys that are going in the draft and pulling out of the draft so your roster is a little bit uncertain there. I just think now in college basketball the landscape is changing. Your rosters may be a little more fluid than they have ever been. 

Things have definitely changed and it makes it a little harder. I think what we as coaches have to do is adapt. It is just part of the turf now.  We have to make sure you still find ways to be competitive in that.

What does the addition of Omer Yurtseven add to this lineup and have you heard anything about his eligibility?
I think with Omer he is a very skilled, very talented guy so we are excited about him.

I think as far as eligibility goes, I think it is common that most international players--especially European kids--there is a process that they will have to go through to make sure their amateurism and all those things are in order. That is something that we have already done as much homework on as we can do and the process will then play out.

We feel good but at the same time you have got to go through the process with the NCAA. Hopefully that will all work out, and he will be ready to go the first day we start.

Are you looking to add pieces are you set with the lineup as it stands heading into the season?
I think we are in a position where we would still like to add some guys to the roster. I think we went through a year, this past year, where we probably were short-handed and then we had injuries on top of that and that is not a fun place to be.

Having done that, we are in a position right now with the mindset that we are going to try to add as much depth as possible.

After visiting Turkey in March how quickly did Yurtseven's commitment come together?
It came together pretty quickly. My trip to Istanbul was quick. I got there on a Friday night and I was home in bed in Raleigh on Sunday night. That is just the way those things go.

I thought when Omer came over here for visit he connected with our guys. I thought that was really important. He liked it here a lot. It happened fast, but we like him.

Do you have an update on Terry Henderson's health?
Terry, I watched him work out this morning. I would say from my viewpoint he is pretty close to 100 percent. He may say he is 90-to-95, but he is getting there. He is fully involved with every workout... does every activity. I think with guys like that there is a period after an injury where they have got to get that confidence back and just turn it all the way loose. I am not sure he is there yet. I think he will be.

He is a guy that we are counting on at this point to be 100 percent when he start it up. 

How has the new additions to the staff help infuse energy and help with the recruitment of Darius Hicks?
I am excited about our staff. I think both Heath and Butch have done a good job from recruiting to the workouts with our players. I think they have both done a marvelous job on the floor. I think they have also connected with our current roster really well. They are building relationships that I think is really important so I am really excited about those two guys and what they are going to add this year. 

You mention Darius, we are really excited about him. He is a really good player, and he is going to get a lot better in time. He has got a great body and great athleticism. We are thrilled that we are able to have a guy like that join us in May.

What is the status of Lennard Freeman?
I just saw him. He had surgery yesterday. I am going to spend some time with Lennard today. The surgery went well. They took out a 16-inch steel rod and put in a thicker steel rod down in his shin.

I would anticipate he will redshirt unless something very unusual where he miraculously came back quicker than we thought. I am hopeful that Lennard, and I think he shares the same hope, is that he just needs time to fully heal, fully get himself ready and go through an offseason where he can actually workout every day and go through all of our skill-development drills. 

He missed all of that last summer. He missed every day of the skill-development drills. I think he wants a period of time where he can really get in shape, really get healthy and saying all that I can see where he would be a redshirt this year. We will wait and see for sure but that is my anticipation.

You've handled all these issues late in the game well. Have you already started thinking about last year and would you prefer to stay out of these situations?
I never dialed 911 this year. I know a lot of people probably did, but I never did.

Cat Barber was a situation where we anticipated that prior to the year. Cat and I had open conversations... you never fully know but his full intention was to play his junior year and declare for the draft.

When the dust settled, Cody and Caleb transferred... that was it.  They are twins, and I want the best for Cody and Caleb. When you take twins, it's a dynamic that's really unique.  You're getting two guys, you're not getting one, and that's a good thing. If they decide to transfer you lose two because it's the same situation.

As the dust settles from the panic situations, you had Cat, who we knew would probably leave, Cody and Caleb, certainly we wanted them to stay. But, it's not uncommon to see that around the country. I was on the phone with John Beilein at Michigan, they had four guys transfer.  Ohio State had four. You look around the country... we had twins and we'd certainly hope for those guys to be here, but we wish them the best.

Transferring, 1,600 guys over two years across the country... I'm not naive to think that's not going to happen from time to time. 

I hope we have guys that are good enough to evaluate the NBA process... that means you have a good player.

I think that's the state of the game... it's kind of where we are. I think it's more the norm than anything else.

What feedback are you getting on Cat Barber?
I think Cat has a great chance, from the guys I've talked to, to potentially push himself into the first round. I thought he played fantastic in Chicago... maybe late first, early second round.  I thought he played terrific.

The one thing Cat has that I hear the NBA guys talk about is his great speed and his shooting has improved dramatically.  

When you look at Cat Barber, and I tell guys this in the NBA, when you look at his freshman year, sophomore year, and his junior year, and you see the development, if you project that for another two or three years where he can continue to improve, I think you have a guy who could be a really good player in the NBA.

Have you talked to BeeJay?
Yep, we've talked. He's here... he's in school taking classes. My hope is that will take care of itself pretty soon.

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NOTE: Video courtesy of NC State athletics.


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