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NC State's Brackman picks baseball over hoops

10/10/2006 - N.C. State Wolfpack

RALEIGH, N.C. -- North Carolina State's Andrew Brackman
plans to sit out this basketball season to focus on baseball.

The 6-foot-10 junior would have been one of the Wolfpack's top
returning players and bolstered a front line depleted by the
departure of Cedric Simmons, who left for the NBA after his
sophomore season.

Last baseball season, Brackman was 1-3 with a 6.35 ERA before a
stress fracture in his left hip ended his year. The injury healed
in time for him to pitch in international competition for Team USA.
He was 4-0 in seven starts with a 2.09 ERA in his freshman year.

"I look at this basketball season as a redshirt year for me,"
Brackman said in a statement. "My primary focus will be on playing
baseball but I still consider myself part of the basketball
program."

Brackman said he will reconsider his decision to play basketball
after the professional baseball draft in June, though first-year
Wolfpack coach Sidney Lowe wouldn't rule out Brackman playing
basketball this season.

"The door is always open," Lowe said. "I wouldn't close it on
him. He's one of our kids. He's part of our family. He's been on
the team before. I'm just not one to close the door on family. He's
always welcome. The players feel the same way."

Brackman said playing professional baseball has been a "big
dream of mine ever since I was a little kid and that dream has a
chance of coming true in June. Because of that I feel that the most
important thing for me is to be as prepared mentally and physically
as possible for the draft."

Brackman averaged 7.6 points a game last season and blocked 28
shots, the second-most on the team.

Brackman figured to see significant minutes this season after
last year's 22-10 team lost Simmons and fifth-year senior forward
Ilian Evtimov.

That leaves the Wolfpack with one experienced frontcourt player:
6-8 sophomore Ben McCauley, who averaged 2.1 points and 6.9 minutes
in 27 games.

"I think the window might still be cracked," McCauley said.
"I think we all want to stay positive toward that idea. I talked
to Andrew many times during the week. He still says he's confused
about it.

"He's got a really difficult decision to make. I've told him
many times that whatever decision he makes, I'm behind him 100
percent."

The other front line players include 6-8 redshirt freshman
Brandon Costner, who played just five games because of a stress
fracture in his leg, and 7-3, 245-pound freshman Bartosz Lewandowski. The losses could even force 6-7 swingman Gavin Grant
to spend time inside, which could leave the Wolfpack short-handed
against bigger teams.

Still, his teammates sound OK with Brackman's decision -- even if
they'd love to have him on the court.

"We could definitely use him for a couple of Duke and Carolina
games," Grant said.