Al-Farouq Aminu has announced that he will be returning for his sophomore season at Wake Forest, ending weeks of speculation.
Let's get it out of the way now. With James Johnson declaring and saying he will sign with an agent and Teague testing the waters, I was more than a little scared that Aminu would follow.
Draft websites have been saying for weeks that Aminu is a top-15 pick, but Aminu himself said to Dan Collins of the Winston-Salem Journal that he planned to return.
Wake fans were in limbo and with James and Jeff's recent news, some ostriched it and put their heads in the sand hoping everything would be ok, while still others chicken littled it. Luckily for both camps, Aminu is returning and the Deacs will have some stability last year.
I'll be honest, if Farouq did not come back and Teague left as well, this team would be more than a little sparce on offense. Farouq was arguably the best freshman in the ACC this year (I'm sorry Sylven Landesberg, but it wasn't unanimous).
He averaged 12.9 points, 8.2 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game. He hit the rookie wall, but still finished the season well, averaging 14.8 points and 8.6 rebounds in the last five games of the season.
Aminu had a very inspired performance against Cleveland State, going coast to coast and finishing a dunk, running down the offensive player and blocking it to the next county and hitting a couple long jumpers.
This was the potential that Aminu showed at various times over the course of the season. Sure he was good all year, but he could be top-five pick good. Talking with him over the course of the season, he knew this. He constantly alluded to how he needed to work on continuing to get better defensively and at rebounding, how he needed to work on his shooting and how he needed to get better around the basket.
That is why he's staying. He's making the right decision, just as Ed Davis of North Carolina is to come back and increase his draft stock. Unlike Davis though, he still has the incentive of no post-season success.
Aminu is much more competitive and driven than he looks on the court. Although he doesn't often show emotion, he works extremely hard in practice and always has his head in the game. He showed a lot of freshman mistakes at times, but there is no denying his talent.
And boy will the Deacs need his talents next year. If Jeff Teague comes back, Teague and Ish will play at the same time, or Teague and L.D. Williams, with Ari Stewart getting a lot of minutes too. Aminu will play the four. C.J Harris, Konner Tucker, Gary Clark and Torgrim Sommerfeldt (as long as he is still crossing the pond) will spell Teague and L.D.
Or if the Deacs really want to get big--Aminu can play the three, and a combination of Tony Woods, David Weaver, Chas McFarland and Ty Walker can play the four and five spot with Stewart coming off the bench.
In the event that Teague does not come back, not much changes lineup-wise--Ish will get more minutes and L.D. will play more of the two--but the Deacs will lose a lot of scoring. The Deacs will desperately need Aminu to hit shots either way, but he will be a more complete player with the extra time in the gym and the weight room. He will be able to pick up some of the slack that will be left behind in Johnson's absence.
He has the potential to be an All-ACC player and I really believe that he could be that next year. Duke's Gerald Henderson is likely to leave. Gani Lawal from Georgia Tech might enter his name in the draft and Collins from Miami, Costner from NC State and Greivis Vasquez have already declared--not to mention all of the players from UNC. Needless to say, there is a lot of opportunity for Aminu to shine next year.
He had an excellent season last year and he only has room to grow. With Farouq returning, the Deacs assure themselves that they will still be a top-25 contender next season.