Q&A: Part I -- Dave Telep Talks NC State

Dave Telep, National Recruiting Director for TheInsiders.com, discusses NC State's 2004 recruiting class and the current state of the Wolfpack program in this exclusive Q&A with StateFans!

NC State's Class of 2004 featured three signees who finished the season in the top 75 of Dave Telep's Final Basketball Rankings. PF/C Cedric Simmons (No. 24), F Andrew Brackman (No. 42), and SF Gavin Grant (No. 70) are all considered players who can contribute right away for the Wolfpack, along with Georgetown transfer Tony Bethel, who will be eligible next season. Today we talk with Telep about each of these players and how they can impact the N.C. State basketball program.

Brief Dave Telep Bio: Dave is one of the most respected basketball recruiting analysts in the country and is the national recruiting director for TheInsiders.

Telep helped launch PrepStars.com in 1997 and worked for The Recruiters Handbook. He was named director of basketball recruiting for Rivals.com in 1999 before being hired to be the director of basketball scouting for the Insiders.com in 2001. He has written for CNNSI, ACC Basketball Handbook, The Sporting News, USA Today, and Yahoo!.

Dave is also a voting member for the McDonald's All-American Game and the Naismith High School Award, while being a member of the United States Basketball Writers Association.

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StateFans: You actually released your final Class of 2004 rankings this week. How do you think N.C. State's class ended up finishing?

Dave Telep: "I thought it shaped up pretty well. All of the guys: Cedric, Andrew, and Gavin, really finished up their high school careers on a high note. Cedric made a run in the state tournament that was probably not expected, Gavin won a city championship, and Brackman was player of the year in his division. I think these guys all finished strong.

I think this is a class, especially with Simmons and Brackman, that has guys who are 'late-bloomers.' Their best basketball still lies ahead of them, and I just think this is an outstanding class."

SF: With Cedric Simmons, do you think he's the type of player who can come in and compete for a starting job from day one or do you think it may take him some time?

Telep: "It all depends. I think talent wise there is no question that he can come in and compete for a starting spot. With Cedric, there's going to be some shock for him because this is such a different level then he has been used to. There's going to be a big learning curve for him, but I think his talent level will shine through and he'll play major minutes next year.

I don't think with him you gauge his progress on whether or not he starts, but how he finishes the year."

SF: What do you think Simmons will bring to N.C. State that they may be lacking?

Telep: "Size... and I think he provides a consistent rebounder and shot blocker for them. I really think this is the best big guy they have recruited since Herb's been there.

He's just different... he's still learning about himself and the game, but he will give them a presence that they might have been lacking in recent seasons."

SF: I know some fans have questioned how he will fit into N.C. State's unique offensive system. How do you think he will fit into what the Wolfpack does on the offensive side of the ball?

Telep: "Well, watching Cedric with his high school team can sometimes be a painful experience because the talent level is just not there. I don't think he's going to have a problem fitting into what NC State's doing because he does things that they don't have. They don't have a guy who you can count on for nine rebounds a game from the post spot. He's going to be a major presence inside, and defensively I think he will impact games in a big way next year.

Offensively, how much do you think they will ask him to handle the ball? He can pop out and make the twelve-foot jump shot. He's shown the ability to make those, not consistently, but if he can make those that's a big thing for N.C. State."

SF: When we talked earlier in the high school season you mentioned specifically that you were one of the first analysts who had Andrew Brackman ranked in your Top 100 rankings. Now he's actually ended up ranked in two other Top 50 listings, not including yours. What do you think made him rise so much in the rankings... do you think it was just more gurus watching him or his late progress?

Forward Andrew Brackman finished the year as a consensus top 50 prospect and will provide a potent inside scorer for the Wolfpack. (Photo courtesy of the Cincinnatti Enquirer)

Telep: "Well, I think it was a combination of the two. When you see him with his high school team you could tell there was a ton of late progress. We're talking about a guy who probably has no idea how good he can be because he's such a highly-touted baseball player. This is a guy with great size and a great stroke. He's put himself in a great situation with N.C. State because they value those traits in a big guy. He can pass the basketball, shoot the basketball, and hit from the outside. I just think this is a kid who ia going to come in and be able to play a lot."

SF: He really burst on the scene at last year's Glaxo Invitational against Oak Hill Academy and some other strong squads. What surprised you the most about him in that tournament given the great talent he faced?

Telep: "I thought he was a little bit better athlete than I gave him credit for the first time around. That caught my eye, and I liked the way he competed. I think he comes from a situation where he's used to winning basketball games, and I think that's going to translate over into college."

SF: With Gavin Grant, what type of role do you see him playing? Maybe not just next year but also in the future for NC State?

Telep: "I think his versatility is what's intriguing about him. Here's a guy who all he does is win ballgames... whether it's in the summer or during the high school year. He's a versatile enough player to handle a couple of positions for NC State. I think they are going to ask him to be a tough defender, and Gavin Grant's going to be a very good college basketball player."

SF: Do you think maybe at times Gavin is overlooked by Wolfpack fans? They at times seem to focus on Simmons, Brackman, and Tony Bethel while maybe not realizing how good Gavin could be.

Telep: "I don't think he's overlooked. I think you have a different set of expectations with Simmons then you do with Gavin Grant, and that's the way it should be. Cedric Simmons is a big-time recruit... Gavin Grant was brought in to be a very good college basketball player. His role on this team will probably never be to be the star, whereas with some of the other guys the expectation levels are a little different."

SF: When we were in Las Vegas last spring you actually broke Tony Bethel's transfer to N.C. State. What do you think of him based on what you have seen, and how can he impact N.C. State?

Telep: "He surprised me with how well he did at Georgetown. We are talking about a guy who started two years in the Big East against some very good guards. He's had a year to learn the system, and that's very important for the way N.C. State plays. I think he's got a head start on anyone in this incoming class and there is going to be a big need for him to handle the basketball and play some point guard. Right off the bat he should factor into the rotation in a big way. If he can come in and run the basketball team, make good decisions, lead the break, and be a presence that will take some of the pressure off of Julius Hodge."

SF: As far as looking at N.C .State for next season, what do you think of their team given what they are adding and compared to the rest of the ACC?

Telep: "What they added is one of the best classes in the conference. It's going to be a little young, but they have the big horse in Julius. Next year is what it is... it's Hodge's year. What can he accomplish as a senior within the framework of their basketball team and how far can he take them? He's got his wish and there is no doubt that this is his basketball team. Their success depends a lot on what he's able to accomplish as a senior."

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Stay tuned tomorrow for Part II of our interview with analyst Dave Telep as we discuss the Class of 2005 and high school basketball recruiting in general.


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