Wolfpack so popular, Howell can’t get to class
by Nicole Auerbach, USA TODAY Sports
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Richard Howell can’t seem to get to class on time these days.
It may not go over well with his professors, but the North Carolina State senior forward has a pretty good excuse. Too many of Howell’s classmates are excited about the upcoming college basketball season and want to talk about the high expectations surrounding the Wolfpack.
“You can leave 15-20 minutes early, and people are still going to stop you,” Howell said at Atlantic Coast Conference media day Wednesday. “That’s nothing to complain about it. It’s just crazy. You take a dramatic turn and so many people start liking you.
“I take the same route to class as I did since freshman year, and I was never thrown off track until the Sweet 16. It’s definitely a good problem to have. … One person comes, then the next person comes, then I’m late to class.”
N.C. State was picked by ACC coaches to finish first in the conference this season, and coaches also picked the Wolfpack to sweep the individual awards — C.J. Leslie as the ACC player of the year and Rodney Purvis as the ACC freshman of the year.
That’s high praise in this conference. Since 2003, Duke or North Carolina has won at least a share of every ACC regular season championship. But both teams saw key players exhaust their eligibility or leave in the NBA draft in the offseason. N.C. State returns four starters from last season’s 24-13 team that made a surprising run to the NCAA tournament’s Sweet 16.
Howell said that when he gets stopped on the way to class, his fellow classmates don’t waste time. They “skip talking about the ACC championship and go straight to talking about the NCAA championship,” he said.
No matter what the subject matter, it’s making him tardy.
“I have class at 11:40, and the latest I’ve been was probably 11:53,” the 6-8 Howell said with a laugh. “It’s not that bad, but when you’re probably the biggest person walking into class and you’re last, everyone turns to look.”