What could have been…NC State Wolfpack loses Lacey and Washington


This was one heck of a One-Two punch.

More from North Carolina State Wolfpack

After watching Duke win its 5th National Championship, then lose frosh sensations Jahlil Okafor, Tyrus Jones and Justise Winslow to the NBA, the door was cracked for someone else to challenge for ACC elite status.

Then UNC’s unexpected loss of J. P. Tokoto hurt Carolina in terms of versatility, depth, athleticism and defense. Tokoto, though not much of loss in terms of scoring, could at times be a human highlight film igniting the wine and cheese crowd with his electrifying breakaways and dunks.

Then Wham!  Just when the NC State Wolfpack was ready to pounce.

The Pack, unlike Duke and UNC has rarely been loaded since the Valvano years.  Only once since Corchiani and Monroe has NC State looked like it could really challenge for the ACC title and beyond.  The 2012-13 team (like next season’s 2015-16 squad) featured 4 returning starters: CJ Leslie, Lorenzo Brown, Richard Howell and Scott Wood and incoming freshman Rodney Purvis and TJ Warren.  Though the team finished 24-11 and 4th in th ACC, the season was a disappointment.  Wolfpack fans had expected much more.

More from Old North Banter

This season had even more promise than the 2012-13 season.

Like a ton of bricks NC State lost not one but two of its top 8 returning guns in Trevor Lacey and Kyle Washington.  The team was sure to make noise in the upcoming 2015-16 basketball season and a Top 15 or better pre-season ranking was certainly looming.   The Wolfpack was also returning Beejay Anya, Cat Barber, Lennard Freeman, Abdul-Malik Abu, Cody Martin and Caleb Martin.

Trevor Lacey, the heart and soul of the Wolfpack team, decided to test NBA waters after a stellar season as a redshirt junior transfer.  The 6’3″ guard and team leader from Huntsville, Ala., transferred to the Wolfpack two years ago from Alabama.  Lacey averaged 15.7 points, 4.6 rebounds and 3.5 assists for the Pack was voted second team All-ACC.

North Carolina State Wolfpack guard Trevor Lacey- Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Washington, a 6’9″ 225lb. sophomore forward from  Minnesota averaged 19.7 minutes, 7.1 pts. and 4.6 rebounds in 29 games.  Washington had an awkward, but surprisingly deadly jump shot.  I don’t know how many times I looked in amazement when the big man nailed difficult jumpers that seemed to come when the Pack needed them most.  The word is that Kyle decided to leave because of playing time.  While this is all important to young players, it’s too bad so many fall prey to the lure greener grass…a lure that so often does  not materialize.  See:  Ryan Harrow and his Kentucky Wildcat experiment as a perfect example.

North Carolina State Wolfpack forward Kyle Washington- Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

It’s a real shame.  We had a real shot to do something pretty special.  Next season should still be good, but the expectations will not be nearly as big.