Brackman Gives Up Basketball

North Carolina State righthander Andrew Brackman confirmed Tuesday that he will forgo his junior year of basketball to focus on baseball.

The 6-foot-11, 225-pound Brackman has played power forward for the Wolfpack in each of the last two basketball seasons, delaying the start of his baseball season. As a freshman in 2005, Brackman went 4-1, 2.09 for N.C. State’s baseball team after the basketball team was eliminated from the NCAA Tournament, even outdueling first-round pick Cesar Carrillo of Miami in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament.

But the basketball overlap largely ruined his sophomore season, as he was limited to just seven appearances. A stress fracture in his hip suffered on the basketball court hindered Brackman on the mound, as he went just 1-3, 6.35.

“Because of the hip injury and because this is such an important year for me in baseball, I’ve decided that it’s in my best interests to play baseball only this year and to concentrate on getting ready for the draft in June,” Brackman said in a statement. “I’ve been told by scouts that I have a chance to be selected very high in this year’s draft.”

Brackman will take a redshirt year in basketball this winter, but he did not rule out a return to the hardcourt next year if something unforeseen happens with his baseball career. He averaged 7.6 points and 3.5 rebounds per game over his first two seasons over 67 games, 24 of them starts.

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

In the Cape Cod League this summer, Brackman showed again why he is a better baseball prospect and has a chance to be selected as high as No. 1 overall in the 2007 draft. He posted a 1.06 ERA and was named the league’s top pitching prospect. Then Brackman joined Team USA for a couple of appearances in the World University Championships in Cuba, allowing two hits and no earned runs in four innings.

He was brilliant at N.C. State’s scout day last week, dazzling the approximately 40 scouts in attendance.

“He was very good, consistently 91-95 mph velocity-wise, and they chased a couple out of the strike zone on his knuckle-curve,” said an area scout with an American League club who was there. “He’s very athletic obviously, and for his size he controls his body very well.

“We had reports this summer that he threw a lot harder than he did the other day. I heard 99 mph on the Cape, and the story going around was that he threw a 101 up there with Team USA.

“This will be a good test for him this spring to see what he can do when he’s not playing basketball.”

Contributing: John Manuel.