This past Saturday night Wake Forest basketball introduced themselves to the fan base and put their skills on display at Black and Gold Madness. It was the first team we've been able to see the players in action since the Triad Pro-Am Summer League. The players participated in a dunk contest, 3-point contest, shooting challenge, and a 10-minute scrimmage.
After the jump I'll provide my thoughts on how each player has developed since I last saw them play in summer league. If you have any specific questions about a player or anything else basketball related feel free to ask your question in the comments section and I'll do my best to address them. Additionally, if you disagree with any of my observations feel free to comment on that as well.
C.J. Harris- The senior guard keeps betting better. Though the scrimmage was only ten minutes long, C.J. wasted no time in demonstrating his magnificent scoring ability. He was driving the lane and finishing at will. This added dimension now may force defenders to play off of Harris, and if they do he will drain jumpers. On another occasion Harris did an outstanding job in getting his defender to bite on a pump fake, and then he drew the contact which would have resulted in two free throws in a regular season game. I fully expect him to make 1st-team All-ACC selection this season. He had an outstanding jump from his sophomore season to his junior season, and I expect him to make an additional step this season.
Travis McKie- Who would have thought two years ago that this class which started at five would be down to just one? Fortunately for the Deacs that one is Travis McKie. With all of the talk about the Baby Deacs, I think Wake Forest fans have forgotten how talented C.J. and Travis are. These are two of the best ten or fifteen players in this league, and that has gone largely unnoticed this summer. In summer league Travis demonstrated a much improved perimeter game. His ball handling was very solid and his shooting was improved. In the three-point shooting contest, McKie showed that his stroke had gotten even better. I expect Travis' overall versatility to be a tremendous asset to this team, and will allow McKie to be a matchup nightmare for opposing teams.
Chase Fischer- Chase demonstrated an outstanding shooting stroke during the three-point shooting contest. In the scrimmage he also showed off his solid ball handling and passing abilities. With Cody Miller-McIntyre's ability to drive and draw help defenders it will be critical that Chase is able to knock down the open three.
Daniel Green- Green showed that his summer league play was not a fluke. His improved body has made him a significantly better basketball player. He had several rebounds and on one play he showed nice hands catching a pass and then went up strong and drew contact. Last season he would have struggled with the catch and would have had an even more difficult time going up strong. He probably would have gotten blocked, or had the ball stolen. With his added strength, he will now be able to go up strong and draw fouls on opposing big men. I don't know if Green will start, but he will provide quality minutes either way.
Tyler Cavanaugh- This was the first time I got to see Cavanaugh play as he missed the summer league due to a foot injury. It was evident why Cavanaugh had offers from the likes of Notre Dame and Syracuse. Cavanaugh is a fantastic shooter, and at 6-9 he will be able to shoot over almost every small forward who tries to guard him. He was lights out during the three-point contest, and he knocked down a three-pointer off a pick and pop during the scrimmage.
Madison Jones- I'll be honest, Jones really didn't impress me that much during summer league. But he was greatly improved during the scrimmage. He showed improved shooting stroke and decision making. One thing he did very well during summer league that also did well on Saturday night was steal the ball. He does a solid job of picking the pocket of his opponent as well as getting in passing lanes.
Codi Miller-McIntyre- The most heralded Wake Forest freshman showed off his unreal hops in the dunking contest. He didn't win, bur he showed that he has some serious 'bunnies. Codi will need to learn to let the game slow down a little bit and that will help him immensely. There is no denying his talent, and it will be obvious to Deacon fans what a serious upgrade he is over Tony Chennault. His penetration ability will result in a lot of fouls on the big men of our opponents. It will also allow opponents to have to sag off of Harris and McKie. That will only result in easier scoring opportunities for the Deacs.
Arnaud Adala Moto- Moto showed his freakish athletic ability. In the dunk contest he dunked over Andre Washington. For those who don't know, Andre Washington is a legitimate 7 footer. He might be the most improved player since the summer league. He is really coming into his own and is learning how to use his freakish athletic ability to dominate. He may be only 6-6, but his athleticism and wingspan allows him to guard taller players. If Jay Bilas calls one of our games, get ready to drink up. He has the quickness to guard 3's and the length to defend 4's. He is yet another player who can play multiple positions and will allow Coach Bzdelik a variety of lineup options.
Aaron Rountree- Speaking of versatility, that is Mr. Rountree's game. He is a stat sheet stuffer and finds a way to contribute on both ends of the court. He is a very talented and willing passer on the offensive end. At 6-8, his height allows him to see plays that others cannot and he then hits the open man. He is also a solid ball-handler, and that allows him to run pick and rolls and pick and pops. He is a solid help side defender and shot blocker and he is also good at getting in the passing lane and stealing the ball. The downside to his defense is that he can be fairly aggressive which sometimes results in an easy back door pass being used against him. He needs to bulk up a bit, but his versatility will allow him to contribute to the team early on.
Devin Thomas- Thomas did not play as he is still recovering from surgery. For those unfamiliar with Thomas' game, he is a very physically developed power forward. He is a very strong rebounder and has decent touch around the basket. He got in foul trouble pretty easily during the summer league and his high school career, so he will need to improve his discipline. He is a natural 4 and will be the post presence that has missing for the Deacs over the past several seasons.
Andre Washington- Andre Washington was definitely one of the surprises of the summer league. He was much more polished on the offensive end than I remembered when I saw him play for Hargrave Military Academy. In the scrimmage he showed that he can be very active on both ends and has soft hands. He did appear to be pretty winded towards the end of the ten minute scrimmage. I'm not sure if he's still adjusting to the pace of the college game or what, but he was noticeably tired. To be fair, I did see him play all 40 minutes of games during the summer, so he's done it before. I'm not sure if Bzdelik will start Washington at center or if he will choose to start Thomas and Green next to each other. Either way, Washington should contribute, and if he can come in during spurts and block shots as he's capable of doing, then he will be valuable to us this season.
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