"It's been great," C.J. Leslie told Pack Pride. "It's different from high school, being that I went to a private high school and this is such a big college, but it's great. Plus since I went to college at home, I'm enjoying being able to get back to the house when I can. That's something a lot of people don't have.
"Classes and workouts, that's where a lot of my time goes. It seems like that's about all I have time for right now with the season is about to start."
Leslie arrived at State as the most highly-regarded recruit in the Wolfpack's heralded three-man class. Five-star guards Ryan Harrow and Lorenzo Brown committed early in the process, and Leslie's signing this spring put the class amongst the nation's elite.
Rated the No. 11 prospect in the country by Scout.com, Leslie was NC State's highest-rated signee under head coach Sidney Lowe. A McDonald's All-American, the combo forward selected the Wolfpack after seriously considering Kentucky and UCONN.
Despite the accolades, Leslie isn't feeling any pressure.
"We're going to go out everyday and have fun," he stated. "We're just looking to go out there and compete. I feel like the only thing you can ask from us is to go out there and do our best, work hard. We're doing that, and it's all we can do."
The message is also being delivered by Sidney Lowe. Entering his fifth year as head coach, Lowe has arguably his most talented roster but also lofty expectations with fans believing this is the season the Wolfpack returns to the NCAA Tournament. With that being said, Lowe doesn't want his players focusing on that right now. "Coach Lowe is saying don't feel like you have any pressure," said Leslie. "We're still kids, and we are just looking to go out here and have fun. That's the main thing, have fun and compete. If we do that then everything else will take care of itself."
NC State returns senior point guard Javier Gonzalez and All-ACC senior post standout Tracy Smith. The duo is expected to lead on-and-off the court this year. With just one other scholarship upperclassman on the roster (C.J. Williams), the Wolfpack should be one of the youngest teams in the conference.
Because of its youth, NC State needs the incoming freshmen to be ready to contribute right away, and Leslie knows that he will have a chance to make his presence felt. The 6-foot-8, 210-pounder is capable of playing both forward positions, and his elite athleticism should give State a boost on both ends of the floor.
"Coach Lowe has explained to me that he just wants me to go out there and play hard," said Leslie. "He wants me to do everything that's in my power, and if I can do it that's what I'll do. I'm going to play a mixture of the three and the four but just go out there and play."
The Wolfpack had two players graduate from last year's team, and three others transferred out of the program. The trio of freshmen are the only newcomers, and State has just 10 scholarship players on the roster.
Team chemistry will play a role in how successful NC State is going to be this season.
"I think we can do a lot of things good," Leslie stated. "We have some great players. We're all connecting. Everybody, I feel like everybody has stepped their game up from last year. We're working hard and we're connected, so that's good."