The Wolfpacker

September 2013

The Wolfpacker: An Independent Magazine Covering NC State Sports

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Page 15 of 95

tracking the PACK Dereck Whittenburg Returns To NC State When Mark Gottfried was hired as the NC State men's basketball coach a little more than two years ago, he immediately told Wolfpack basketball legends such as Dereck Whittenburg that he wanted them to be seen and heard around the program. "I want the kids to see you, and for you to support me and the program," Gottfried told him. That was fine when Whittenburg, one of the program's most vocal supporters, was working television broadcasts during his stints with ESPN and other networks. But it will be even easier now that Whittenburg is part of Gottfried's staff. On July 29, Whittenburg was hired to be the Pack's senior assistant to the head coach and director of player development, a position that had been filled for the last year by former UCLA head coach Larry Farmer, who returned to a coaching position at Western Michigan. Gottfried initially contacted Whittenburg to help find candidates to fill Farmer's vacant position. Before long, Gottfried convinced the school's 28th all-time leading scorer and the shooter of college basketball's most famous air ball to return to the Pack, eschewing contract offers from both ESPN and Fox Sports to be an analyst for the upcoming season. Whittenburg is a 26-year veteran of the coaching ranks, having moved around the country as an assistant with stints at NC State, George Mason, Long Beach State and Georgia Tech. He later took Wagner to the NCAA Tournament as a head coach and spent more than six years as head coach at Fordham. Gottfried became the third Wolfpack coach to bring Whittenburg to the Raleigh campus. Newly selected NC State Athletic Hall of Fame coach Norm Sloan recruited Whittenburg, a sweet-shooting guard from DeMatha Catholic High School in Hyattsville, Md., in 1979. The late Jim Valvano, who coached the guard for three of his four seasons as a player, asked Whittenburg to be a graduate assistant in 1985 after the player's brief professional career. Valvano later brought him back as a full-time assistant in 1988, until his departure in 1991. "I've been through some of the great times and some of the difficult times here," Whittenburg said. "Things have changed a lot since the last time I was here, but I still have a feel for what you have to do to be successful here, both on and off the court and administratively. "I am willing to help in any way I can. Not just with the basketball program, but also with the athletics department and the university." For Gottfried, Whittenburg's connection to the school and its basketball success — he is, after all, a cousin of Wolfpack legend David Thompson — is invaluable to building the current program. "He brings a wealth of not only experience, but of knowledge Whittenburg has been hired to be the Pack's senior assistant to the head coach and director of player development. photo courtesy Dereck Whittenburg and love for NC State," Gottfried said. "He has many strengths as a former head coach, including relating with players and their families. We look forward to having him be a mentor to our players, and having his experience on our staff." As a roster full of new players arrived on campus this summer, Whittenburg took his role as a mentor seriously. In his first talk with the players, he used his own experiences in talking to the players about the importance about getting more out of their college experience than just wins and losses on the basketball court. "I got more than just a degree at NC State," Whittenburg said. "I developed lifetime relationships. It has propelled me in my professional career in coaching and in my film work. It has prepared me for life. That's what I want to pass on to the kids as a mentor. You can learn how to be successful at more than just sports. "You can learn how to be successful in life, too." For the last three years, Whittenburg has been a television analyst, and most recently and successfully, a documentary executive producer. "Survive and Advance," his ESPN 30-for-30 collaboration with director Jonathan Hock, was a highly acclaimed telling of the story of the Cardiac Pack, Valvano's 1983 NCAA championship team during Whittenburg's injury-altered senior season. He is also working on a similar film about his high school basketball coach, DeMatha's legendary Morgan Wootten, and a film version of the 1983 season. But his primary responsibility will be to serve as a primary building block for Gottfried's program. "I came here to play and coach with two men who won 60 percent of their games and won national championships," Whittenburg said. "I would love to be here and be part of the school's third national championship." — Tim Peeler 16  ■  the wolfpacker 16-18,20,22,24.Tracking The Pack.indd 16 8/23/13 3:36 PM

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