COLUMBUS, Ohio - C.J. Leslie said he hasn’t yet heard from John Wall, but he expects a text to come through some time soon. Basketball junkie that Wall is, it would be unlikely that he’d missed the chance to see his former Word of God teammate and his hometown North Carolina State take on Georgetown in the third round of the NCAA tournament Sunday afternoon.
Wouldn't that be something if they ended up together on the Wizards next season?
“I talk to him every so often,” Leslie said. “He’ll text me. I’ll text him. Whenever he’s down, he’s always either coming to the gym with me or I’m over at his house.”
Leslie, a 6-foot-9 sophomore forward, looks the part of a future NBA player even if he hasn’t quite shown it consistently for the Wolfpack, which he leads in scoring with 14.6 points per game. ESPN.com has him as its 25th best prospect in this June’s NBA draft, and DraftExpress.com ranks him 44th.
He’s at ease in his sizeable frame, with a strong ability to finish around and above the rim. He doesn’t quite shoot as well from outside, and he needs to get stronger for the NBA, but desire may be the only thing that holds him back.
First-year N.C. State coach Mark Gottfried took notice of that label, and decided he needed to make it change, so he started calling Leslie by his first name, Calvin.
“When I took the job,” Gottfried said, “every time I turned around somebody was making a negative comment about C.J. Leslie: Doesn’t play hard; He’s disinterested; You’re not going to be able to reach him… So my thing was it’s time for a change. It’s time for you to have a fresh start. So for me we’ll change your name. It’s Calvin. And I think at first he always look out of the corner of his eye, like ‘What are you doing?’ But he’s used to it now.”
When Leslie was asked during Saturday’s media session if anybody else calls him Calvin, it turned into a joke.
“I do,” piped up Wolfpack forward Richard Howell.
“No,” Leslie said. “Coach Gottfried is the only one who calls me Calvin.”
“And Richard,” added Howell.
In North Carolina State’s 79-65 win over San Diego State on Friday, Leslie had an understated first half before scoring 11 of his 15 points in the second half.
As for Wall, Leslie hasn’t peppered the Wizards point guard about the NBA.
“I would say he’ll just kind of be talking, and I’ll learn from that,” Leslie said. “I don’t really ask him any of those questions. We’re just friends on a different level. It’s more of just to have fun situation, what we’re going to go out and do or whatever. “
He also had his own take on the frustrations this season in Washington and their impact on Wall.
“He’s a very mature player now,” Leslie said. “I would say it’s very frustrating for him because no doubt, he’s a winner. He likes to win, and when he doesn’t win, he gets a little frustrated. But you don’t want anybody who is losing to accept losing, so he’s doing a very great job of just keeping his head as the season goes on.”