Rodney Purvis was cleared recently by the NCAA to begin attending classes at North Carolina State (as Paul Seaver wrote yesterday on RantSports.com), but his eligibility on the basketball court is still a huge question mark.
First off, I would like to applaud the NCAA for the decision to let him start attending classes, regardless of how the ruling falls on his ability to play basketball. The NCAA is an organization meant to protect and assist student-athletes in achieving their goals and dreams by attending a college.
The term “student-athlete” has been used very loosely for a lot of schools in the NCAA recently, but first and foremost, the goal is to be a student, while also demonstrating excellence on the field of play as well.
By allowing Purvis to go ahead and start his classes while the investigation wraps up, it prevents him from falling too far behind if he is ruled eligible. This benefits all parties involved and there are no downsides to the decision.
The question at hand is not really a Rodney Purvis question per se, but rather a question of the high school he attended in Upper Room Christian Academy (NC). Since Purvis was the first graduating class from the school (opened in 2009), the NCAA has labeled it “under review”, and therefore Purvis is in limbo.
Everything that I have heard coming out of Raleigh and media outlets indicates that Purvis’ grades were not a question at all and he exceeded what was expected of him to pass the NCAA clearinghouse in terms of SAT scores and GPA.
Now for the basketball angle. Rodney Purvis is one of the top players coming into the NCAA this year and was a great grab for head coach Mark Gottfried of N.C. State. Along with Tyler Lewis and T.J. Warren (both outstanding prospects in their own right), Purvis is expected to bring the Wolfpack back to prominence this year not just in the ACC, but nationally as well.
Before the Purvis situation began many columnists and media sources were labeling N.C. State as a top ten, if not top ten school in the nation. They were also the sexy pick to win the ACC with UNC and Duke both looking at (for them) potentially reloading years nationally.
Coming off the heels of an ACC Tournament semi-final berth and a surprise Sweet Sixteen run in the NCAA Tournament, the Wolfpack return starters Scott Wood, Lorenzo Brown, C.J Leslie and Richard Howell, while only losing C.J Williams (graduation), and Tyler Harris/Deshawn Painter (transfer).
While Harris and Painter could have seen time on the court this season, it was likely that they would not have started and been slotted in as role players for the Wolfpack.
Starting point guard Lorenzo Brown had surgery in June for a torn lateral meniscus in his right knee, but should be good to go in time for the regular season to start.
With nearly all the starters back one of the freshmen will likely step in to fill the starting role. Right now it looks as if that player may be T.J. Warren, but when the Wolfpack wanted to go with a smaller lineup, Purvis could easily step in and play the 1, 2 or 3 for the Pack.
Purvis is listed as a forward on the N.C. State website (at 6-2.5 no less), and really represents a newer type of player that has emerged recently in college basketball. Teams are going after players that have versatility and can be moved all around the lineup to mesh with other players. Purvis is a great example of this because of his ability to slash, get to the basket, as well as handle the ball if necessary.
He was listed as a point guard throughout much of high school, and in the past couple of years emerged as a legitimate scoring threat, particularly in transition and off of broken plays.
Without Purvis the Wolfpack will still be a very strong team this year due to returning starters, as well as the talent that they have added. He could, however, be the difference in 12 ACC wins and 14 or 15 ACC wins (out of the new 18 game schedule). The depth he would add is also very important for N.C. State once the team reaches tournament play.
Last year the Wolfpack ranked 87th in the adjusted tempo ranking of Ken Pomeroy, and with Rodney Purvis in the game (along with Lewis and Brown running the point), the transition game is something that can be improved upon. If the Wolfpack can maintain their offensive efficiency of 111 (1.11 points scored per possession) while adding 2-3 possessions a game, that could be the difference between winning or losing 3-4 games over the course of the season.
Purvis will be a critical asset for the Wolfpack’s transition game because of his ability to distribute the ball, as well as score with authority. The combination of these two traits is lethal in transition, especially for a team with elite athleticism.
If a team in the ACC wants to challenge UNC and Duke night in and night out during the season, depth is an absolute necessity. Purvis would boost the Pack from a solid 3-5 seed in the NCAA Tournament to a possible 2 or 1 seed.
The ACC has been looking for a team the past 2-3 years to rise up and consistently challenge the heavyweights to increase their visibility nationally, and while Florida State won the ACC Championship last year, N.C. State has more staying power due to recruiting visibility, location and history in the basketball program. Purvis could be the final piece to the puzzle that pushes the Wolfpack over the top.
The eligibility of Rodney Purvis would help not just the Wolfpack, but the ACC as a whole, and as a rabid ACC fan I hope that the NCAA finds him eligible to play as soon as possible. I expect the NCAA to rule him eligible and this should be a great boost to the ACC nationally.