'I Lived In The Weightroom'

RALEIGH, NC -- NC State sophomore Andrew Brackman planned on playing baseball this summer, but instead he could be found working hard in the weightroom and adding weight to his tall, lanky 6-foot-10 frame.

A two-sport star for NC State as a freshman, Brackman averaged 7.4 points and 3.5 rebounds while starting 14 games. On the diamond, the right-handed pitcher finished with a 4-0 record and 2.09 ERA as he made seven starts for the the Wolfpack.

Fresh off the baseball season, Brackman chose to try out for the USA Baseball national squad but did not make the roster, and he quickly turned his attention to the upcoming basketball season.

"I was going to [play baseball], but it didn't work out," Andrew Brackman told Pack Pride. "I didn't make a team that I wanted to be on, and I felt it would be better for me to get stronger and work on different parts of my game."

And he did just that. Brackman mentioned that he worked on his shooting, ball-handling, and post-up skills while also adding 30 pounds of muscle, as he now checks in at a sturdy 6-foot-10, 235 pounds.

"I lived in the weightroom this summer, and I think it's helped me out with everything," he said. "I've got a lot stronger, and I can just feel it when I run down the court or I'm throwing the baseball. I think it's going to help me out this year."

Andrew Brackman

Brackman and fellow sophomore Cedric Simmons have added muscle and that has allowed redshirt senior Ilian Evtimov to trim weight. Evtimov, who played last season at over 235 pounds, now checks in at 220 pounds and will play more on the wing this year, opening up opportunities for Simmons and Brackman to contribute more in the post.

"We haven't really determined roles or what's going to happen," Brackman said. "But I think with Ilian's new versatility it may open a few doors for me, Ced, Ben [McCauley] and Brandon [Costner].

"I think that me, Cedric, and some of the other big guys can step up. We can have a big year in the post and get our rebounding back on track this season."

Evtimov joked with the media at the Wolfpack's media day that because he has slimmed down Wolfpack fans may be able to see him dunk in a game this season. When asked if there is a chance Evtimov can get a dunk, Brackman laughed and hinted that it is possible.

"[Laughing] He might be able to," he said. "He's jumping a little better this year, but he'd have to be pretty much wide open. I think he'd be able to get it."

In talking with Brackman, you get the feeling that he believes sophomores Cedric Simmons and Gavin Grant are going to play big roles for NC State this season.

Simmons played sparingly as a true freshman, but the 6-foot-9, 233-pounder is one of the ACC's most intimidating centers with his athletic ability and shot-blocking skills. Grant, like Simmons and Brackman, has also added muscle, as he now checks in at 6-foot-7, 212-pounds with the ability to play four positions on the basketball floor.

"I think Ced and Gavin have really, really improved," Brackman said. "I think they'll be major parts of the team this year."

If NC State's trio of sophomores can play major minutes and contribute as some are projecting, look for the Wolfpack to have a huge year.

Media outlets are already expecting a strong season from Brackman. Lindy's voted him Third-Team preseason All-ACC, the No. 12 Power Forward nationally, and the No. 4 Rising Star nationally. He is ready to play his role in taking NC State basketball to the next level.

"I see myself as someone who just brings a bunch of stuff to the table when I come in the game," said Brackman. "I'm not going to say I'll be the team leader, but that's something I want to be in the future.

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