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    First Looks: Javi Gonzalez, Clayton Beard
     
     

    Updated: 8:45 a.m., 10/09/07, to reattach Javi Gonzalez video clip. 

     

    BY TIM PEELER

     

    RALEIGH, N.C. Guards Javi Gonzalez and Clayton Beard are both surprise members of NC State men’s basketball freshman class, a couple of late additions in the backcourt who could pay big dividends in the future for Sidney Lowe’s program.

     

    Both traveled circuitous routes to get here.

     

    Gonzalez is a native of Puerto Rico, who left home to play his sophomore year of high school in New Jersey. He didn’t like it there, so he moved to Miami to live with his grandmother and play his final two years at Richard Krop High School. By his senior year, when he averaged 20.7 points, 7.3 rebounds and 5.0 assists, he was named Florida’s 6-A Player of the Year.

     

    Beard, a native of Detroit, spent his first two years of high school at Hidden Lake Academy in Dahlonega, Ga., a boarding school where he had to quickly grow up. He returned to his hometown after his sophomore year, playing his final two seasons at Detroit Country Day.

     

    Gonzalez, a 6-0 point guard, is a versatile player whose mind isn’t necessarily on scoring. He loves playing defense and getting his teammates the ball. His debut with the Wolfpack suffered a mild setback in September, when he had surgery to repair torn ligaments on his right thumb.

     

    “It’s the first time I have ever been injured in my life,” Gonzalez says. “But I am hoping to be back by Nov. 1, practicing with the team. For right now, I am going to watch practice and start learning the plays.”

     

    Beard is a versatile athlete. In high school, he also participated in football, lacrosse and track. He was twice named all-state in the high jump and was a recruited tight end in football. In fact, Beard says, if the Wolfpack football team keeps losing tight ends, he might have to approach Wolfpack head coach Tom O’Brien about joining the squad.

     

    But Beard also has a strong basketball background, helping his team to the Class B state championship as a senior while averaging 10 points and nine rebounds a game.  Former NBA star Joe Dumars, who is now the President of Basketball Operations for the Detroit Pistons, is a long-time family friend, as well as Lowe’s former boss before the coach returned to NC State.

     

    Beard decided to join the Wolfpack as a walk-on, fulfilling a life-long dream of playing for an ACC program. Coming to North Carolina also brings Beard back to the state where his father, Roxboro-native Ezra Beard, was born and raised. Beard has an aunt and uncle who both work for Duke Hospital in Durham.

     

    All week long, exclusively on GoPack.com, Wolfpack fans can learn a little about each of the team’s five newcomers, in their first interviews since joining Lowe’s program. Johnny Thomas’ interview appeared Monday; Gonzalez and Beard appear today. Tracy Smith will follow on Wednesday and the series will conclude Thursday with J.J. Hickson.

     

    Fans will have the opportunity to see the new guys and all the older ones too in action on Friday, Oct. 19, at 9 p.m. when the Wolfpack has its inaugural “B-Ballin’ at the Old Barn,” at Reynolds Coliseum, followed by the Red & White Game on Oct. 27 at the RBC Center. (Tip-off time for the Red & White game will be determined after the game-time for the NC State-Virginia football game is announced.)

     

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


     

     

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