In two years at North Carolina State, Patrick Wallace played in 11 games. Last year, he played just 11 total minutes. This year, as Charleston Southern enters its 11th game, Wallace ranks 11th nationally in made three-pointers per game.
That was the kind of tradeoff Wallace hoped for when he decided to transfer from N.C. State last March. A desire to play Division I basketball led the Charlotte native to Raleigh as a walk-on, and a desire to play a meaningful role led him to Charleston as a scholarship guard. So far, so good.
“The glitz and the glamor of Division I basketball, I don’t really buy into all that stuff,” Wallace said. “It doesn’t matter if you can dunk the ball. I mean, I can’t dunk. It just matters if you can get the job done at your role. In Division I, I think if you can play your role, you can help a team.”
Wallace is playing his role well on a three-point happy Charleston Southern squad. The Bucs have ranked top-11 nationally in three-pointers attempted and made each of the last three years, and are showing no signs of slowing down in that department this year. Wallace has knocked down multiple threes in all 10 games to date, highlighted by a seven triple, 25-point performance in CSU’s Big South Conference opener against Winthrop.
“It’s pretty much all I’ve ever wanted to do, to get to play Division I and shoot a lot of threes,” Wallace said. “That’s really what I’ve always dreamed of doing. I’m just really blessed and fortunate and grateful to get to play here, to get to play this style of basketball.”
Wallace is playing that style of basketball thanks in part to Thomas Butters, CSU’s director of basketball operations. Butters’ friend Staats Battle played alongside Wallace with the Wolfpack, and informed him Wallace may be looking to transfer before CSU played at N.C. State last December. Fast forward three months and change later, and Wallace was an appealing option for a CSU program losing five seniors from an NIT team.
CSU, meanwhile, presented an appealing opportunity for Wallace. Despite starring at Charlotte’s Myers Park High School, and playing a year alongside some elite talent – Chris McCullough of the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets included — at New Hampshire’s Brewster Academy, Wallace was essentially devoid of Division I scholarship offers. Deciding between 20-plus Division II scholarship offers and walking on at a high-major Division I program, however, did not present much of a quandary for the 6-1 sharpshooter.
“I always had a desire to play D-I because people always told me I wouldn’t be able to play D-I — I’m too small, I can’t get my shot off, all that stuff,” said Wallace, who also considered Iowa State, Marquette, Syracuse and Tulane before deciding on N.C. State. “I sort of had a chip on my shoulder and I knew if I wanted to walk on, I wouldn’t walk on at a smaller school at first because I thought I could play with anyone.”
Wallace never quite cracked a deep rotation of guards that led N.C. State to the NCAA Tournament each of the past two years. He enjoyed the experience of playing in the ACC at a tradition-rich program, but wanted a chance to prove himself. He discussed transferring with N.C. State associate head coach Bobby Lutz during the year, and made it official three days after the Wolfpack were bounced from the Sweet 16. A little more than two weeks later, Wallace was on his way to Charleston Southern.
“That whole week I knew I was probably gonna come because the reputation is blue collar and shoot a lot of threes,” Wallace recalled of his visit to CSU. “That’s pretty much who I am. I try to work hard every day on my game and shoot a lot of threes so I thought it was a good match.”
Wallace shoots and makes a lot of threes, all right. He tries for 300 to 500 makes a day, and sank 12,000 during a September shooting contest among CSU’s players. His quick release and NBA range is the product of a lot of hours in the gym, according to CSU head coach Barclay Radebaugh.
“Patrick works as hard on shooting the basketball as any player I’ve ever coached,” Radebaugh said. “He’s one of the best shooters in the country, and is working hard to become more than just a shooter.”