THE VIRGINIAN-PILOT Copyright (c) 1996, Landmark Communications, Inc. DATE: Wednesday, January 31, 1996 TAG: 9601310396 SECTION: SPORTS PAGE: C1 EDITION: FINAL SOURCE: BY ED MILLER, STAFF WRITER LENGTH: Medium: 100 lines
Todd Fuller does not wear his hair in an aircraft carrier-style flat-top because he thinks it looks fashionable, or because he wants to appear tough and intimidating.
There's nothing that complicated behind the Fuller brush-cut.
``Two words,'' Fuller said. ``Low maintenance.''
Fair enough. Fuller - North Carolina State's star center - is entitled to some no-muss, no-fuss in his life, considering the rest of it is definitely high maintenance.
That 3.96 grade-point average Fuller carries doesn't maintain itself, after all. To stay that high, it must be fed a steady diet of A's, and those don't come easily when your major is mathematics, where the answers are either right, or they're not.
There's no time for dallying on the basketball court, either. Not when you're expected to carry a struggling Wolfpack team on your back, and battle the likes of Tim Duncan, as Fuller will do tonight when N.C. State travels to face Wake Forest.
Fuller's schedule - even in the offseason - is brimmed so full that almost an entire page of the N.C. State media guide is devoted to it. In a ``typical'' five-day week, Fuller had exactly one hour devoted to ``free time.''
``I can't think of a finer example of a model student-athlete in the U.S. than Todd Fuller,'' N.C. State coach Les Robinson said.
Fuller's not only a model student-athlete, he's also a devout Christian and an amateur pilot.
Given all that, his true calling could be running seminars on time management.
``It's a matter of learning what to give the most time and energy to, and what to back off of,'' Fuller said. ``There are plenty of times when you have to force yourself to get on top of something. You have to force yourself to do an assignment.
``You just tell yourself, `Once I get this over with, and do a good job, I won't have to worry about it anymore.' ''
Fuller's take-'em-as-they-come philosophy has been remarkably successful. In 3 1/2 years, he has failed to make an A in a class just once. He made a B in a computer science course entitled, ``Data Abstractions and Structures.''
``It was a very challenging class, so I don't feel too bad about the B,'' Fuller said.
Fuller likes the analytical nature of math and computer science, and had planned to major in computer science. He realized it would be hard to take his homework on the road, though.
``I'm sure there would have been a way, but it probably wouldn't have been as effective or desirable as being in the actual lab,'' Fuller said. ``With math, I'm actually able to take most of my work on the road.''
Armed with a calculator, and an analytical mind, Fuller has cracked math problems all along Tobacco Road.
Lately, he's also been cracking defenses. Heading into tonight's game, Fuller leads the ACC in scoring, at 21.8 points per game. He's second in rebounding, at 10.7 per game.
It's an indication of how far Fuller has come, because unlike in the classroom, Fuller's early grades on the basketball court were not good.
``When I came in as a freshman, I was not a good player,'' Fuller said. ``But I always had a deep inner confidence that I could eventually become a good player, if I kept working, through time and persistence.''
The 6-foot-11 Fuller averaged a clumsy 5.2 points and 3.6 boards as a freshman. In typical, systematic fashion, he began working on his game, concentrating on improving one or two skills each summer.
Robinson said he's never had a player work harder.
``Todd is one of the few players who you know will become as good as he can be,'' Robinson said. ``He's going to work to improve in all aspects of his game.''
Fuller improved his scoring average to 11.8 points during his sophomore season, and 16.3 points last year. He averaged 8.5 rebounds each year.
Last summer's points of emphasis were rebounding and 3-point shooting. Fuller's rebounding average is up nearly two boards per game, and he's made nine treys this year, eight more than in his first three years combined.
Fuller fattened his average with some huge games against a soft early-season schedule. But he also had 30 points and 14 rebounds against Marcus Camby of Massachusetts, 29 points and 17 rebounds against Virginia, and 27 and 14 against Duke.
``He's very strong,'' Duncan said. ``And he gets good position.''
Fuller has a nice touch around the basket and a soft lefty jumper to about 15 feet. Needless to say, he rarely makes mental mistakes.
``Basketball is a high speed game of chess,'' Fuller says. ``I try to think a pass or two ahead.''
Ahead for Fuller, he hopes, is an NBA career. Given his size, touch, and smarts, it seems a likely possibility.
Bobby Jones, the former NBA player who coached Fuller at Charlotte Christian High, says Fuller will approach the NBA in his typically analytical fashion.
``Todd's going to retrieve and store the information that will give him a chance to go to a higher level,'' Jones told the Greensboro News and Record. ``He's an intelligent kid, and he processes everything.''
For Fuller, things seem to have a way of adding up. by CNB