A member of the heralded 2010 in-state class, Leslie is a combo forward who is already pushing 6-foot-9 and 200 pounds. His body is still maturing and filling out, but he is very skilled with the basketball. He has very good footwork in the post, already has a couple of go-to post moves, and he hits the boards with a purpose.
Leslie needs to work on strength, conditioning, and controlling his emotions, but he has major upside. Most analysts consider him one of the top players in the state, regardless of class.
Leslie didn't waste anytime with his recruitment. He visited NC State for several games last winter, and Wolfpack head coach Sidney Lowe offered him a scholarship shortly after attending the team's summer camp.
"What I really wanted to do was to go a good ACC college close to home," Leslie stated at the time of his commitment. "Coach Lowe said that I could do it in the system. He's got Brandon Costner and he lets him shoot outside and I thought it would be a good fit."
This past weekend he attended the Elite 75 Rundown in Gastonia and impressed Scout.com Recruiting Analyst Dave Telep.
"These showcases set up perfectly for Leslie's game and he usually shines like he did here," said Telep. "On a short court, Leslie was able to handle it, drive and score when needed. He killed it at the rim. As good as he is, he's still somewhat of a raw talent with a huge ceiling.
"When C.J. brings it,
he's almost unstoppable."
"The North Carolina State commitment has size, ability and an overall package that stood out as one of the elite talents at this event. He can run all day and in settings like this he points himself at the rim and explodes as he did Saturday morning."
That sounds like Leslie's efforts over the summer with D-One Sports, a local AAU team that features some of the state's top talent. Former D-One assistant coach Antone Williams has certainly been impressed with Leslie's play.
"When he has his motor running on every play, the sky is the limit for that kid," said coach Williams. "C.J. is long and very athletic. One of our other coaches recently told me that C.J.'s now up to 6-foot-9, and he can handle the ball extremely well for a guy his size.
"I think his commitment to NC State was a little out of the blue. However, I had heard State liked him a lot and vice versa."
The buzz around Leslie is never about his play. Most consider him an elite talent in his class. Now he needs to continue developing his mental aspect for the game and maintaining his emotions.
He played his freshman season at Holly Springs (NC) High, a new school that had just freshmen and sophomores, struggling to a 2-24 record. A player who admits that he hates to lose, Leslie often expressed his disdain on the court and it would lead to mental lapses in his play. However, he's just a sophomore and as he develops throughout his prep career, so should his maturity.
"John is going to continue to
bring out the best in him."
An example of a player who has matured is Raleigh (NC) point guard John Wall, also a memeber of D-One Sports. Wall battled attitude problems early in his high school career, and now his coaches consider him a leader. Leslie can learn from Wall on a daily basis now, as they are teammates at Word of God Academy, the prep school Leslie recently transferred to.
"C.J. just needs to keep developing mentally and physically," said coach Williams. "I think his transfer to Word of God is going to help him a lot because John is going to continue to bring out the best in him. When C.J. brings it, he's almost unstoppable.
"They are going to be a tough one-two punch. I think John is going to work on his distrubution of the basketball this year and C.J. will help with that. He runs like a gazelle. On the court, he will benefit from playing with John, especially in transition. I expect John will also make sure C.J. uses his 6-foot-9 body in the post and touches the basketball down there. C.J. actually told us he likes to post. He will get to do that this year."
NC State has already landed a commitment from Leslie and are heavily pursuing D-One's John Wall and Ryan Kelly. What does coach Williams think of the Wolfpack's coaching staff?
"I know from our standpoint and most of the other coaches around this area, a lot of us are really pleased with what coach Lowe is trying to do," said Williams. "I'm a North Carolina alum, and I definitely see what he's trying to do. I like coach Lowe a lot.
"The fact that Quinton Jackson coached in the middle school division around here... a lot of the local coaches know him and know what he's about. NC State has been received really well around here. I know if it was up to [former D-One head coach] Tony [Edwards], [NC State] would definitely be on the final list for our guys."
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Local AAU coach Tony Edwards and his staff, including coach Antone Williams, coached D-One Sports this past summer. The staff has decided to no longer be affiliated with the D-One Sports program and will be looking to lead another team next spring and summer. Wall, Leslie, and Kelly are expected to remain with D-One Spors.
Later this week, we will have more from coach Williams on two of his other players: John Wall and Ryan Kelly.