Our ACC basketball previews wrap up with the Wake Forest Demon Deacons. Will Ojanen takes a look at a team that is relying heavily on a talented freshman class.
ACC Season Previews
Wake Forest Season Preview
Projected Statistics (Returning Players Only)Explanation of Statistic Projections
Things to Watch
There hasn’t been a lot of talent on the court for Wake Forest recently, but Jeff Bzdelik brought in a very talented recruiting class this year that is full of talent. It may come at the right time, because the natives are growing restless with the way the team has performed the last couple of years. Some of that is talent related, and others just haven’t meshed with Bzdelik in one way or another. Eight players have left the team in the two years Bzdelik has coached. The talent that returns to the roster this season doesn’t get a lot of publicity because of the team’s performance, but some of them are All-ACC caliber.
C.J. Harris is one of those high caliber players. He really emerged as a legitimate scoring threat last season. His scoring numbers rose significantly, and his turnovers went down as well. He split time at shooting guard and point guard, but will play more at shooting guard this season, thanks to Codi Miller-McIntyre, one of the many heralded freshman on this roster. He’s going to start at point guard from day one. He’s a playmaker on both sides of the court. He’ll be a fun player to watch. He will be backed up by another freshman. Madison Jones is another highly touted point guard who will see plenty of playing time this year. Also coming off the bench is Chase Fischer, the team’s leader in three point attempts. He should improve on that this year.
The biggest news here is that Travis McKie will actually have help in the frontcourt. He’s been a strong scorer and rebounder in his two years on campus. He is a dangerous weapon anywhere on the court. His frontcourt mates are freshmen, but are very skilled. Arnaud Adala Moto is a solid all around player who can score and rebound. Tyler Cavanaugh is a 6-8 forward who can shoot threes. Devin Thomas is going to give the Deacs some toughness inside. Andre Washington is a seven footer who isn’t much of an offensive player, but can be a shot blocker for the Deacs. Aaron Rountree is tall at 6-8, but skinny at 190 pounds. He could be used in a number of different ways.
There aren’t a whole lot of big name schools on Wake Forest’s schedule this year. Their second game of the season is against UConn on a neutral court. The Deacs host Nebraska in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge, and will also host Seton Hall and Xavier. The conference schedule has the Deacs playing on the road more in the first half of the schedule, but play at home more in the second half. With the exception of UNC, the Deacs play the top ACC teams twice.
There’s a lot of talent on the roster, but it’s unproven. Jeff Bzdelik could be on the hot seat, but he will have a lot of teaching to do on a team that has 7 freshmen on the roster. He may have to find a way to make this team mature early. There’s no doubt that Travis McKie and C.J. Harris will be the go to guys, and they’ll likely provide the team with 30 points per game by themselves. But who really knows after that? That can be the issue with such a young team. I could see this team being competitive, but I think the lack of experience will hurt them this year.
by Will Ojanen @WillsWorldMN
Fantasy Player to Watch
Travis McKie has put together back-to-back solid fantasy seasons, and there's no reason to doubt McKie's junior season performance. With the increased talent on this year's Wake roster, don't look for McKie's scoring to go up much, but look for his secondary stats to increase keeping him in the top 5-8 picks in your fantasy draft.
Last Year's Player Statistics
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