GSK: Leslie, Word of God Advances

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Word of God struggled with Apex High School in the second round of the GlaxoSmithKline Invitational but pulled out a 75-71 victory to advance to Wednesday night's title game.

NC State target C.J. Leslie led the way for the Holy Rams with 31 points and six rebounds and showed why he is one of highest rated players in the 2010 class. Leslie played above the rim basketball and collected several dunks and athletic rebounds throughout the night.

Although Leslie and Word of God played well for stretches during Monday's game against Apex, the Cougars kept it close for much of the night and pulled to within three points with 30 seconds to play. On its final trip down the court, however, Apex could not get a solid look at the basket and with 9.2 seconds left Leslie blocked a three point attempt which would have tied the score at 74.

Leslie said he was happy to get the victory despite the inconsistent play.

"We played well, we came out with the W," he said. "That's kind of what you want at the end." Leslie said he felt like his team needed him to step up in the second half of the game. He scored 18 of his 31 points in the final two quarters.

"When my team is down I step in, that's what I do every game. I play hard. I just did everything my team needed me to do and we came out with the victory," he said. "Me being a leader on this team I definitely had to pick up the pace and give some extra energy out to get the momentum going our way."

Leslie addressed his recruitment following the game, saying he was close to announcing a list of schools he in considering.

"I haven't narrowed down the list yet but it's soon to come," Leslie said with a smile. "I owe that to y'all. I promise I'm going to get that list out."

Word of God head coach Erasto Hatchett addressed the change in high school basketball during his press conference following the game, saying the media and the recruiting attention high school players get creates opportunities for kids to "self-destruct."

"I'm very humbled by having this media and having this press, but that's half the problem with these guys and a lot of these guys around the country," he said. "We get away from the true essence of basketball and it sets a tone for these guys to carry themselves in a manner that is unacceptable to the game and it's left to the coaches to fix it before they go to college or self-destruct."

Hatchett went on to say that he felt that several of his players could self-destruct based on their attitudes and the way they approach the game.

"If we don't find a way to reach these kids, we're all accountable. We're all accountable," he said. "I'm trying to teach these kids about life lessons and I got somebody banging on my door about coming up here for a media thing."

Leslie said that he doesn't feel pressure about the recruiting process because he doesn't allow himself to feel it.

"It's only pressure if you consider it pressure," he said. "People ask me, I tell them my answer, and I don't think about it after that."

Leslie also briefly addressed rumors that Walton High School (Marietta, GA) point guard and 2010 NC State commit Ryan Harrow is considering a transfer to Word of God.

"I would love to have Ryan as a point guard and as a friend off the court," he said. "Whether he's coming to Word of God I don't know. I hope he does. That's all I can say."

Word of God doesn't have a game today and will play the winner of Flora MacDonald and United Faith Wednesday night at 9 pm in the finals of the Summit Hospitality Group Invitational division.

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