Well folks, another Triad Pro-Am has come and gone. It was certainly going to be an interesting affair because it was set to feature six of our seven incoming freshmen (Tyler Cavanaugh was and is recovering from a foot injury, so he didn't play), and the rosters were much more balanced this year, so it was anyone's league. I was honestly surprised by a lot of what we saw, and I was frankly encouraged as well. Of course, it was just a summer league and so any observations need to be taken with a grain of salt, but I feel like there was insight to be had in the games that we saw. The freshmen all shined at points, and our returning players showed that they've been doing work in the offseason. All of our returning players worked on the aspects of their games that they needed to, but I'll get more into that later.
Let's start with the returning crew:
-C.J. Harris didn't really show us anything that we haven't seen already, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. He's built, he's clearly strong, he's a shooter, good at the line, and capable of creating his own shot better than probably anyone else on the team. As much as C.J. didn't really demonstrate any drastically new skills, that's not really a problem if you ask me, because I thought C.J. was far and away the most complete player on the roster last year, too. I will say C.J. seems even stronger than he did last year, which is a plus. He showed several absolutely tremendous stepbacks, and I really think he's going to continue scoring at will this year. He scored from deep, mid-range, and in the lane, and continued to show consistency at the line.
AVG- 17.4 PPG, 2.2 APG, 1 TPG, 1 RPG, 1.2 SPG
-Chase Fischer was, much like C.J., mostly the same player. He's still got an amazingly smooth stroke, some decent handles, and absolutely no hesitation at times when it comes to taking shots, which can be a plus when Chase is hitting, but when the shots aren't falling. I'll say this for Chase, though. He has put on some mass, for sure. Chase also showed a lot more of a tendency to drive and dish than he used to, which is a major plus. He even, believe it or not, ran a couple of absolutely beautiful fast breaks. To say that Chase could play point is going too far, but I think it's fair to say that Chase showed at least a mildly diversified skill set that will likely come in handy in the upcoming season.
AVG- 17.25 PPG, 2.5 APG, 2.5 RPG, 1 SPG
-Travis McKie was, predictably, an awesome player in the league. The most notable difference in Travis's game is his jump shot. Travis has such a better jump shot that if the rest of his game wasn't so consistent, I might think he was a different player. Travis hit from the middle, he drained threes almost at will, and thankfully, he was still strong on the inside with some rebounds, dunks, and putbacks. Other than that, Travis was the exact sort of player we'd expect him to be. He hustles, he leads, he can dominate and take over, and he also is capable of distributing occasionally. The Pro-Am was a really good showing for Travis, and I was very excited to see such an improved jumper from him.
AVG- 28.3 PPG, 1.3 APG, 1.5 TPG, 5.6 RPG, 1.5 SPG
-Daniel Green was a completely different player. The big man put on easily 15, probably 20 pounds of muscle, and his game changed accordingly. He was a presence inside, and perhaps just as importantly, opposing teams treated him as such, rather than just trying to push him around. The end result of this is that Daniel was able to carve out a lot more space, grabbing rebounds with what seemed like relative ease on the defensive end. He also was hard at work on the offensive end, getting deep inside and frequently rebounding his own misses two or three times in a row and ultimately getting the baskets to go down. Additionally, there were times that Daniel had some powerful dunks, a couple of them through a lot of contact. That was something that we rarely saw last year because Daniel didn't really have the strength to play with that style. I'd say Daniel was the most improved player, and I'm really excited to see how all this offseason work translates onto the court. Daniel averaged almost a double double, which is absolutely tremendous
AVG- 11 PPG, 8.8 RPG
Now to talk about the newcomers:
-Codi Miller-McIntyre showed up just as expected. He can score, he can distribute, he can handle, he can defend, he can rebound, he can finish; honestly, Codi is an incredibly versatile player who can affect the game in so many different ways that he's bound to tear some teams apart in the coming year. I will say that Codi didn't necessarily distribute as much as I might expect, but he definitely had a lot of hockey assists, and even when I didn't think Codi distributed the ball that much, he would end up with an almost sneaky number of dimes. The other thing about Codi is he's in absolutely tremendous condition. He's built like C.J. is now, and it took C.J. until his junior year to have that level of strength. He's powerful, explosive, and athletic, and also shows a great mind for the game. Much like C.J., Codi showed an ability to score from anywhere on the floor, and also used his 6'4" frame to sky for rebounds, make impressive passes, and elevate over defenders. Codi also showed a lot of leadership and composure as well, especially in the semi-final game against the Holcomb-Faye team. The Wake Forest players were down by three after a tremendous comeback with seconds remaining, and Codi, who had been having a terrible game offensively, drilled the game-tying three, which caused the entire crowd, myself included, to explode with excitement. Not only that, Codi also iced the game for the Deacs in overtime with some clutch free throws.
AVG- 14.3 PPG, 4.6 APG, 2 TPG, 3.8 RPG, 1 SPG
-Madison Jones actually was a pleasant surprise to me. The latecomer to the class didn't score as much as Codi did, but he was tremendously disruptive on the defensive end. He has very long arms, and he used those to great effectiveness, averaging over two steals per game. He also was very tenacious for his size on the glass, and had some great assists as well. Madison didn't score from deep in the way that C.J. and CMM did, but he was able to score in the lane, and also scored reliably at the line. Madison showed in the league that he can be a tremendous energy guy coming off the bench, a nice defensive presence, and a strong backup for Codi at the point guard position.
AVG- 10.5 PPG, 2.6 APG, 2.2 TPG, 3.7 RPG, 2.2 SPG
-Aaron Rountree was quite possibly the highlight of the league. We had heard about how versatile he is through scouting reports, but seeing it in person is another thing altogether. He didn't score a lot, averaging 8.5 points per game, but his passing was absolutely tremendous, he was incredibly active on the defensive end, and absolutely filled up the stat sheet. It was fascinating to watch him on the court, because he's tall enough to be a small forward, but his skill set is probably closer to a point guard. If Tree can put on a little bit more bulk so that he can be stronger inside, I honestly believe he will absolutely destroy teams going forward. Another thing that stood out to me is that Tree seemed prepared to go after almost every missed shot around the rim. In the aforementioned awesome semi-final game, the Holcomb-Faye team was talking smack to Tree, at which point he urged them to "keep talking". In the end, Tree was one rebound and two assists away from a triple double in that game. Clearly, Aaron is playing with a major chip on his shoulder, and that's something that I think the team will need in the future. Also stunning is the fact that Aaron had an over 4:1 assist-to-turnover ratio. Considering how much Tree handled the ball, that's really tremendous. Tree is lethal in transition, because he's tall enough to easily get rebounds, and in transition, because his passing and ball handling are so good, he is lethal on the fast break.
AVG- 8.5 PPG, 4.25 APG, 1.1 TPG, 5.75 RPG, 2 SPG, 1.5 BPG
-Arnaud Moto had a good showing, but at the same time, I feel like Moto has even more to offer than his performance in the league would indicate. Moto is similar to a freshman Travis McKie in that he's powerful on the inside, he can slash to the basket, and has great size and athleticism. He's not as solid with his jumpers, but I'm sure that's something he can work on as time goes on. I feel that Moto is an explosive, raw athlete who will definitely have some amazing moments as a Deac. That said, Moto averaged 11 points, and almost 5 rebounds per game, which is nothing at all to scoff at.
AVG- 11.3 PPG, 1.4 APG, .5 TPG, 4.6 RPG, .5 SPG
-Devin Thomas was an absolute beast inside. He averaged almost a double double (and did have a couple double doubles, including a tremendous 16 point, 18 board performance in the semi-finals). He showed a variety of post moves, tremendous determination on the glass, and at times he showed some great interior defense. Devin did get into foul trouble a lot, but when he did play clean defense, he was great at it. Devin was the MVP of his team (for my money anyway) several times, and he definitely has the potential to be the interior presence that Wake Forest will need after the struggles inside last year.
AVG- 10 PPG, 1.8 APG, 8.9 RPG, 1.5 BPG
-Andre Washington was probably the surprise of the league for me. Now to be fair, Dre was bigger than almost everyone else in the league by a significant margin, but he absolutely dominated inside. He averaged a double double, and not only was he strong on the offensive end, he also played fantastic interior defense. He averaged the better part of four blocks a game, altered far more than that, and didn't get into as much foul trouble as Devin did, either. I'm not about to say that the competition he faced in the Pro-Am was anywhere near what Dre will face in the ACC, but at the same time there were some skilled players there, and with Dre's scouting reports as a project, well, if he's doing this well now, he has the potential to be dominant later in his career. Dre even showed the ability to knock down the occasional mid-range jumper, as well.
AVG- 13 PPG, 10.5 RPG, 3.6 BPG
For some overall thoughts, the Deacs as a whole had some fantastic performances, both individually and as teams. I didn't attend more than a handful of games at the Pro-Am last year, but in general I sensed more chemistry between the Deacs this year than I did last year. CMM and Tree in particular showed tremendous chemistry, even showing some unconventional high-low game. Because of his size, Codi is able to sometimes post up, and at one point Tree threw an oop pass from the top of the key to CMM for a dunk, and at one point the opposite also happened. On the fast break especially, the team with CMM and Tree was electric at times. As fun to watch as these separate teams were, I really think that the whole Deac roster as a unit is going to be able to surprise some people this year.
We have a leader in Codi Miller-McIntyre (not to mention C.J., Travis, and Tree, who all have that quality as well), we have a much stronger front court thanks to the new and improved Daniel Green, Devin Thomas, and Andre Washington, and C.J. Harris and Chase Fischer should both be able to continually stretch defenses with their outside games, as will Travis with his improved jumper. The other remarkable thing is that the incoming class has another big man coming in, Tyler Cavanaugh, who didn't play because he's currently recovering from a foot injury.
Obviously, the show that Wake Forest players put on in the Pro-Am needs to be taken with a grain of salt because not only were they not playing against the level of competition they will in the ACC, but also, a summer league is obviously going to be a lot more relaxed than things will be in an actual game. That said, Wake Forest definitely put on a show, and the league was shockingly fierce and competitive at times, especially in the playoffs, where the atmosphere honestly rivaled that of a game in the Joel from where I was sitting.
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