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    Men's Basketball Says So Long to 3 Players
     
     

    BY TIM PEELER 

    RALEIGH – Senior Night is always bittersweet for college athletes, as they take one last chance to stand in front of a home crowd and say good-bye.

    Wednesday night, prior to the regular-season home finale against Wake Forest, NC State will honor three players in their final regular-season home game at the RBC Center: Engin Atsur, Braxton Albritton and Bryan Nieman. All three have contributed in various ways to the Wolfpack’s success for the last four, three and two seasons, respectively.

    Albritton and Nieman are home-grown products who always dreamed of playing in the ACC, no matter what their roles might be.

    Albritton, a junior guard, played locally at Raleigh’s Broughton High School and has been an NC State fan his entire life. He was invited to join the squad as a walk-on by former Wolfpack coach Herb Sendek and eventually was awarded a scholarship. Though he still has a year of eligibility remaining, he is opting to leave the program after this season. He will graduate in December with a degree in Business Management, with a concentration in Marketing.

    Nieman, a senior combo player, took a long, circuitous route to get to his own backyard. He played locally at Wake Forest-Rolesville High School, but spent two years at Winthrop and one year at Gulf Coast Community College before returning to Raleigh as a walk-on for the Wolfpack prior to last season. This year, he’s played a key role off the bench for first-year head coach Sidney Lowe, who rewarded Nieman’s effort with a scholarship at the beginning of the season.

    Finally, Atsur will say good-bye without the heavy accent he had as a freshman. In four years, the native of Istanbul, Turkey, has matured greatly, living half a world away from his parents and older brother, Emre. He’s been exposed to a whole new world of ACC basketball. He gets all the jokes now when he watches “Seinfeld,” his favorite television show. And he has an appreciation for new cuisine, like the Southern breakfast staple grits. “Not every grit, just the good grits, with lots of milk and butter,” he said.

    Atsur is on track to graduate in May with a degree in Business Management, with a concentration in Marketing.

    Each shared a few thoughts about their farewell performance at the RBC Center.

    Engin, Atsur, Sr., G, Istanbul, Turkey

    I remember being a freshman and trying to learn the offense, and all of a sudden here I am a senior. It feels like it has flown by. I really can’t believe I am going to have senior night on Wednesday. The way I think, if I hadn’t come to NC State, I would have probably been playing professionally in Turkey or Europe. But I came here, met a bunch of great people, have been part of a great school and a great tradition that I had no idea about. Now, I know so much more stuff. I have lived by myself for four years. I am so much more confident as a person. Right now, I feel like a grown up now. I don’t see any obstacles that can stop me. I feel really confident about my personality. I have a great education.

    To be honest, coming here to live wasn’t really crazy different. My mom is German and my dad is Turkish. I have traveled a lot in my life. It wasn’t a shock for me. But there are a bunch of things that are different. The language is different. The way people act in certain situations, it is a whole different experience. It is a very valuable experience. It’s not that you can learn that by just visiting the States and going to visit New York for two weeks. You have to live here. That has been a great experience for me.

    Bryan Nieman, Sr., G/F, Wake Forest, N.C.

    It seems like I finally found a home and now it’s over. It has been a long process, but I definitely like where I ended up. I wouldn’t change a thing about any part of the journey. It worked out really well for me. Playing here, contributing what I did, was far beyond anything I ever expected.

    Even though I came here late, I felt welcome from the beginning. I didn’t have to make many adjustments. My teammates are great. The team is so close, it wasn’t hard to get comfortable here.

    There are two moments I will probably always remember. First, the Michigan game, when I really first started making big contributions to the team. And second, of course, is the Carolina game earlier this year. That was probably the coolest moment of my life, being out on the court after that game.

    I also realize that this is just my last home game. We are optimistic about the rest of the season. We’re still capable of doing some things. We want to win these last two regular-season games. We want to make some noise in the ACC tournament. We feel like we are still capable of doing some things. We have beaten the best teams in this conference, so it’s not out of the question to win the tournament. I think everyone believes that.

    Braxton Albritton, Jr., G, Raleigh, N.C.

    " align="left" />Over the last three years, I have gone to summer school every year, so I am going to graduate this fall. Since I put myself in that position to graduate early, I figured why not go ahead and get a head start in the real world. I am confident I will get a good job and get started. I have a few ideas about what I might do.

    I feel like I will always be a part of this program. I am probably going to live in Raleigh the rest of my life. I will probably have tickets to the game. It’s not like this is farewell forever. I don’t feel like I am completely leaving. Playing basketball here has given me a lot of structure in my life. I feel like if I didn’t go through this for the last three years, I would be a totally different person.

    There are a couple of things that will always stick out for me. The first is when we beat defending national champion Connecticut my freshman year to advance to the Sweet Sixteen. Just getting to experience the ACC Tournament and the NCAA Tournament was a lot of fun. And when we beat Carolina that was the top.

    You may contact Tim Peeler at tim_peeler@ncsu.edu.


     

     

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