A year ago, North Carolina State began its defense of the 1983 NCAA championship as if it would pull off another miracle. The Wolf pack won 19 of its first 26 games, but then lost seven in a row. The collapse can be traced to reduced production from AII-ACC forward Lorenzo Charles, whose scoring average fell from 19.6 points a game through the first half of the ACC season to 12.3 in the last seven losses. Now inside help has arrived in the person of 6'11", 253-pound freshman center Chris Washburn (page 120), the most highly recruited player in the country. "He's a force," says Charles. "He can score as well as I can, and as the season goes on I think they may even have to double-team him instead of me." The 6'11" Cozell McQueen is the top returning re-bounder in the ACC, so Washburn will make the Pack very solid in the middle.
The answers to the Wolfpack's most pressing questions—who will play small forward and shooting guard—remain unanswered. State tried five players at the small-forward spot last season, and 6'7" freshman John Thompson (no relation to the Georgetown coach), won't make much difference right away. Scoring from outside will be another of State's shortcomings.
Terry Gannon, a senior, is one of seven guards competing for minutes. Tiny (5'7") Spud Webb can handle the ball against any kind of pressure, but his shooting and defense are lacking. Ernie Myers can penetrate, and freshman Quentin Jackson is the point guard of the future. But the present belongs to 6'5" newcomer Nate McMillan, a juco transfer who averaged a "triple double"—13.1 points, 11.8 assists and 10 rebounds a game at Chowan J.C. in Murfreesboro, N.C.
Valvano's Wolfpack cubs: (from left) Thompson, McMillan and Jackson.