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Bethel's Healthy Appetite Is N.C. State's Top Remedy

Bethel wasn't totally effective on the court until the Clemson game on Jan. 29, when he scored 14 points in 28 minutes in a 80-70 victory. Just as impressive was what Bethel did after the game. The team stopped at a restaurant and Bethel ate a hearty meal -- his appetite officially back.

Since the Clemson game, he has not played fewer than 23 minutes in any game, and he has made a series of significant plays. On Feb. 16 against Maryland, Bethel sank a key three-pointer to give N.C. State a 68-56 lead with 5 minutes 14 seconds to play. The Wolfpack went on to sweep the Terrapins in the regular season.

N.C. State's Tony Bethel was sidelined for four games this season with colitis. "At that age, you think you are invincible. He got a brief glimpse of his own mortality," says his father, Darnell. (Karl Deblaker -- AP)

An ideal ending for Bethel's season would be if the guard could help the Wolfpack reach the NCAA tournament. Bethel, who played with teammate Levi Watkins at Montrose Christian, never reached the NCAA tournament in two seasons at Georgetown.

Bethel started 52 of 58 games at Georgetown, helping the Hoyas reach the final of the National Invitation Tournament as a sophomore. He had wanted to play for Georgetown as long as he could remember.

Bethel's family has pictures of him wearing Hoyas garb when he was as young as 5. His brother, Eric, once flew cross-country just so he could participate in Coach John Thompson's basketball camp.

The entire family's respect for the program made Bethel's decision to transfer that much more difficult.

"It wasn't the best place for me at the time," Bethel said of his decision to leave.

Now he's happy and healthy, a combination he has sought for a few years. Bethel said he plans to relish his experiences in college basketball the next few weeks more because of what he has overcome this season.

"We didn't know what we were dealing with," Darnell Bethel said of the illness. "It had little to do with basketball and everything to do with health. . . . Certain things are going to be out of his hands, but he never had any doubt that he would be back."

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