C.J. Bryce starred for two seasons at North Mecklenburg (NC) High School, and as a senior he averaged 24 points and seven rebounds. However, his recruitment never really exploded and his relationship with Kevin Keatts led to him enrolling at UNC Wilmington.
"It was more a decision I made," said Bryce. "Coach Keatts started recruiting me and when I was doing my research on him I realized he was a really good coach. I took a visit and saw the help they needed, and I wanted to be a part of that reconstruction at Wilmington."
Bryce quickly made an impact. He was all-CAA Rookie Team as a freshman, averaging 10.1 points and 4.2 rebounds. This past season he emerged into a star, as he averaged a team-high 17.4 points per game on 48% shooting from the field. He also recorded 5.4 rebounds and 3.0 assists while earning first-team All-CAA honors.
Over two seasons, Bryce averaged 13.8 points and 4.7 rebounds per contest, and he was named CAA Tournament MVP in March.
"Coach gave us a lot of freedom offensively, and I think that's really important," said Bryce. "We had so many scorers, and he just let us go. We really emphasized defense but offensively we played with spacing, ran pick-and-rolls, and played with a lot of tempo."
After the season Keatts left Wilmington for NC State, and Bryce received his release from the school on May 6th. Instantly he became one of the hottest names on the transfer market.
"A lot of schools reached out to me," he said. "Obviously [NC] State, but also South Carolina, Miami, Georgetown, Maryland, Gonzaga, Pittsburgh, Wake Forest, and there are some others."
NC State was able to secure Bryce's first official visit. He was on campus over the weekend and raved about the trip.
"It went really well," Bryce stated. "I loved it. I loved the campus and the atmosphere around the school. It was good seeing all the coaches again... I had a really good time. I was there with a lot of my family, and the coaches did a great job of showing us all a good time."
What was the highlight of the trip for Bryce?
"I really liked PNC Arena," he said. "That was my second time being there. I actually went to a Hurricanes game a month ago, but we saw the locker rooms and that was great."
Before leaving campus he had a chance to talk in-depth with coach Keatts and the rest of the staff about his potential role should he pick the Wolfpack.
"Really we talked about our two years together at Wilmington," Bryce said. "We talked about how we could all make the transition to a bigger stage at State, and they talked about my sit-out year... I could improve on the court.
"The sit-out year is important to me. I really want to improve my ballhandling. I believe I can play at the pro level and with my size I feel I could eventually play the one and two so I really want to work on my ballhandling and improve my 3-point shot. Coming out of high school I was more of a slasher, but I've improved my three-point shot a lot, especially my sophomore year, and I want to keep working on that."
Next up for Bryce is a visit to South Carolina today and tomorrow. The Gamecocks have impressed Bryce.
"Seeing what Frank Martin has done with that program, it's pretty impressive," he said. "I really like the program, and they went to the Final Four this year."
Could a decision come from Bryce following the South Carolina visit?
"I'm taking them one at a time," he said. "When I took my visit to State I said I planned on taking other visits to make sure of my decision. After South Carolina I may or may not take other visits. I don't know yet. There's a dead period coming up so we'll have to see what happens."
Bryce must sit out the 2017-2018 season but will have two years of eligibility remaining.