Spring sports are in full swing (which is awesome), and football is almost here (which is probably even more awesome), but for whatever reason I find myself still thinking of hoops. And naturally, any thoughts of hoops I have these days are going to be towards the future, partly because it's the offseason and partly because our conditioning as Wake fans is to say every year, "Maybe this is the year!"
Truthfully, I don't necessarily think that with a lot of certainty this year, but this will be Coach Bzdelik's third year, and despite all the drama and struggles surrounding the program, the influx of talent coming this season is undoubtedly exciting -- and possibly transformational. I figured I'd write up a piece about the Super Seven, how I feel about each player, what I think they can all bring to the table, and what I hope to see, but also what I think is a realistic outlook on the future.
Read more after the jump...Allow me to start out by saying that I'm pumped up for every single one of our incoming freshmen, even the late addition of Madison Jones. I will say I have mixed feelings about a seven man recruiting class, but frankly, one additional recruit in the aftermath of three transfers is pretty understandable to me. I'm not going to fault Coach Bzdelik for bringing in another point guard, especially considering two of the transfers were point guards. I'm gonna start out by talking a little bit about my thoughts on each player.
-Codi Miller-McIntyre is probably the crown jewel in this class full of potential stars. The only recruit still in the Top 100 (No. 79), CMM is a point guard who seems to me to be the kind of player that can impact every aspect of the game, and he also seems to me to have a really good attitude and can be a true leader, something that Wake really needs, especially at the point. He also seems to be in really good condition; I think that year at Hargrave probably got him in shape in many different ways.
-Arnaud Moto is the second highest touted recruit of the class. Another four star, Moto was at one point in the top 100 but has since fallen out of those rankings, though clearly not by much. The 6'6, 210-pound wing is known as being long, athletic and high energy. He seems to be a really skilled finisher, and I've heard him compared somewhat to former Wake star and current NBA (sometimes) starter Al-Farouq Aminu. Obviously he's not in Farouq's class, otherwise we'd be hearing a LOT more about Moto, but any comparisons to AFA are alright in my book. Moto had offers from Florida, Vanderbilt, Virginia Tech and Miami, as well as interest from UCLA. That's a hell of a list right there. I'd call that a pretty strong endorsement of his potential.
-Aaron Rountree is honestly the player that I'm probably the most intrigued to see play. At 6'8, 190 pounds, he's long and lanky, and while he's listed as a SF, his build and versatility have made him capable of playing the one, the two or the three. He's said in many interviews that while his game isn't necessarily "focused," his strength is in his versatility and his willingness to utilize it in whatever way will best help the team. Honestly, if Tree can put on some more bulk as his time in college goes on, I think he could be a really really dangerous player. I'd call him the biggest "sleeper star" of this class, though others may disagree. Honestly, there are a few guys in this class you could probably say that about. That's part of what's fascinating to me about this group. Another plus for Tree is he's very very outwardly all about representing Wake. The word Deacon is in his Twitter handle, what more evidence do you need?
-Devin Thomas is another guy that intrigues me. While he's only a 3* recruit, the 6'8, 225-pound PF garnered national attention earlier this year by shattering a backboard on a dunk in a championship game. That kind of strength is something Wake needs inside, and while he's only modestly hyped by recruiting services, his production and dominance in high school has been undeniable. Of course things like that need to be taken with a grain of salt, but it's certainly encouraging.
-Tyler Cavanaugh is the recruit I probably know the least about. The New York native is 6'8 and 220 pounds, and while he's listed as a power forward, I have heard that he's another very versatile guy who can impact the game in a lot of different ways. Also encouraging to me is the fact that while he's only a three star recruit, he had an offer from Syracuse. That's pretty major, if you ask me. He also had interest from Stanford, Clemson, Notre Dame and Boston College, along with offers from a plethora of mid-majors.
-Andre Washington is the "project" recruit of this class. While he's only a 2*, at 7'0 and 210 pounds, the center is touted as having all of the physical tools and basketball knowledge necessary to be a very good player. The issue clearly is that he needs to grow into his body. It's a very similar scouting report to the ones about Daniel Green last year, and considering we saw glimpses of really good stuff from Daniel this year, I'm okay with that comparison. Also, Dre played high school ball with CMM, so that's nice from a chemistry/camaraderie perspective.
-Madison Jones is the latecomer to this class, thought by many (myself included) to be a bit of a stopgap for the glut of transfers that has been happening. That said, he is a player who I think could contribute very positively to the program as well. A long 6'1, 165 pounds, I've heard that Madison is defensive-minded PG but is also an effective scorer, particularly slashing to the basket. While Wake is far and away the best school that Madison was offered, he also had offers from Seton Hall, ECU, Georgia Southern, NC Central and American. He also had interest from many other schools, including late pushes from Maryland, Boston College and Georgia Tech.
So to break it down, we've got two 4*, three 3* and two 2*. Two PG, two SF (though Tree is tough to classify), two PF and a C. A nice well-rounded class that, while it doesn't boast any massively hyped stars like the Farouq/Ty/Tony triumvirate and includes at least one "project," is exactly what the program needs in my opinion.
It fills gaps in talent, and while having 5* recruits is great, I think this group is far more likely to stick around longer and really help to build the program. Realistically, I don't think we'll do more than rise a spot or two in the ACC, but I do think we have an outside shot at postseason play (NIT, mind you, not NCAA, but I'd be pretty encouraged by that myself).
Another interesting note: five of the seven are from either North Carolina or Virginia. I personally like the local feel of this class, because it's far more likely that they'll feel "in place" here, and some of them probably even grew up watching Wake. I'd consider that a pretty big plus.
So there's my quick rundown of our incoming hoops freshmen. I'm sure there will be more detailed looks in the coming days, weeks, and months, but I wanted to offer my preliminary thoughts on the matter. PLEASE be so kind as to leave comments; I really want to hear everyone's thoughts and keep the entire community involved, engaged and active. Thanks for reading.