Phelps: "We Love Our Class"

With Cedric Simmons (No. 21,, Andrew Brackman (No. 78), Gavin Grant (No. 82) and transfer Tony Bethel coming in next season, fans and the staff can breath easier – even with the loss of Marcus Melvin and the possible departure of Julius Hodge to the NBA. <P>

"We love our class," said Wolfpack assistant Mark Phelps of the class that is ranked 13th by "They absolutely fit who we are. All the guys are extremely versatile, have a great work ethic and are talented. We have a terrific combination."

This class starts with Cedric Simmons, a little-known forward when the staff secured a commitment from him. If the lanky 6-9 1/2 junior were still on the market, everyone in the country would be all over him.

"He's explosive, talented and skilled with a terrific work ethic," Phelps added. "His early commitment really gave the program a great boost. Everything we know and have seen of Cedric leads us to believe he's going to be one of the best players in the country."

"It was huge for us because obviously, if he didn't commit when he did, there would have been a lot more programs recruiting him," added Phelps.

Brackman is the most intriguing prospect of the four because he also has the potential to be a major league pitcher with a 90-plus mile-per-hour fastball. However, the Cincinnati Moeller (Ohio) versatile forward, who is much more comfortable playing on the perimeter, decided to give both sports a try rather than head to Georgia Tech and give up basketball.

"He's just scratched the surface as a basketball player," Phelps said. "He's grown two more inches since the summer started and is a skilled, tough, long, agile player."

"Herb and the baseball coach have a great relationship and they've already laid out the blueprint for how it'll all work once he gets here. The coaches, his parents and his high school coach are all on the same page regarding playing two sports here."

Grant is a 6-7 wing who hails from the same high school, St. Raymond's (N.Y.), that produced Hodge. It came down to the Wolfpack and Pittsburgh.

"He's the epitamy of versatility," Phelps said. "He can play all over the floor and that's his greatest strength. In our system, versatility is so valuable."

Bethel is the lone transfer of the group and will be eligible next season after sitting out this year after coming over from Georgetown, where he was a two-year starter at the point.

The addition of Tony has already paid dividends in practice," Phelps said. "He's going to have a really productive two years for us once he becomes eligible. He's a great person to be around and is a high-character guy."

All four of our guys we got our high-character guys," he added. "And all of them should be impact players in our program."

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