Wake Forest Basketball Season Preview

Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports

The Wake Forest Demon Deacons went 13-18 (6-12 ACC) last season and 4th year head coach Jeff Bzdelik will look to senior Travis McKie as well as a host of sophomores to try and get the Demon Deacons back to a postseason tournament for the first time since the 2009-2010 season.

Jeff Bzdelik is entering his 4th season as the head coach of the Wake Forest Demon Deacons and it's no secret that he has been under much scrutiny from a portion of the Wake Forest fan base. Fans have gone to such steps as taking out newspaper advertisements and putting up billboards. Needless to say there is external pressure on this team to make the postseason, as the Demon Deacons did in 18 of 20 seasons prior to Bzdelik's arrival in Winston-Salem.

Wake Forest may return 76% of their minutes, 70% of their scoring and 83% of their rebounds, but they lost a major contributor and leader in C.J. Harris. Last season Harris was the team's leader in offensive rating, minutes, scoring, free throw %, and 3 point %. Replacing C.J. Harris is the biggest question mark this season and Wake Forest will not be able to just replace him with one player. Harris had sensational games last season against Miami, (where we ran the YOLO offense), Boston College, North Carolina State, and Virginia Tech.

So how does Wake replace that production? Let's take a look at the roster and see if this year's team can reach the postseason.

Seniors

2012-2013 Stats Offensive Rating MPG PPG RPG APG FG% 3FG% FT%
Travis McKie 106.7 32.2 13.5 7.0 1.2 45% 32% 76%

Travis McKie has been a model of consistency during his first three seasons as a Demon Deacon. McKie has averaged at least 13 points and 7 rebounds every year he has been on campus and Wake fans certainly hope that trend continues. The senior entered Wake as part of a five man freshman class, but is the lone man remaining from that class as J.T. Terrell, Tony Chennault, Carson Desrosiers, and Melvin Tabb have all transfered. Now, as the lone four year senior, the Demon Deacons will look to Travis McKie for leadership in addition to his excellent production.

McKie is the most versatile and polished wing player on this year's team and his ability to penetrate as well as knock down perimeter jump shots will be critical in determining the overall success of this team. Outside of Coron Williams, Tyler Cavanaugh and Miles Overton, this Wake Forest team does not have players who can stretch the court with their three point shooting. We'll see if McKie can improve on last year's 32% from beyond the arc and return to his sophomore form of 38%.

2012-2013 (Robert Morris) Stats Offensive Rating MPG PPG RPG APG FG% 3FG% FT%
Coron Williams 114.4 24.7 9.1 2.2 1.2 42% 42% 76%

Coron Williams is a graduate student who transferred to Wake Forest from Robert Morris. Like McKie, this Wake Forest team will also look to Williams for leadership and experience throughout the season. He is in fact the only player on the roster with any collegiate postseason experience. In addition to leadership, Coron Williams has the obvious skill of being an excellent three point shooter. Williams has shot over 40% from beyond the arc in each of the past three seasons and will be called upon to help replace C.J. Harris. Coron Williams will not be able to do it all by himself, obviously, but he will at least help to alleviate the loss of C.J. Harris, who shot 43% from deep last season. Williams is constantly in motion on on the offensive end and moves with a purpose without the basketball. Look for him to knock down a lot of jumpers coming off double teams of Devin Thomas in the post.

There are certainly questions about Williams' defensive ability and whether or not he has the lateral quickness or height (he's 6' 1") to defend ACC guards. Those are very legitimate questions and something worth monitoring as the season goes along. I believe height would be a bigger question mark than lateral quickness and would not be surprised to see him matched up against opposing point guards and have Codi Miller-McIntyre (6' 3") defend opposing shooting guards.

Sophomores

2012-2013 Stats Offensive Rating MPG PPG RPG APG FG% 3FG% FT%
Arnaud William Adala-Moto 89.6 16.3 5.6 3.9 0.5 40% 17% 60%

Arnaud William Adala-Moto is affectionately known as "Bill" Moto in the Wake Forest community, or at least the Blogger So Dear and OGBoards community. Moto is incredibly athletic and has a lot of raw talent. In my opinion he has the potential to be an all-ACC defender before he graduates. Last season he only played 16 minutes per game, but he had very good per minute numbers, especially with regards to his rebounding. In fact, Moto averaged more rebounds per minute than Travis McKie. Moto is also very good at drawing contact and getting to the foul line, but he must improve his 60% free throw percentage. Moto's shot was noticeably improved in summer league, but will that translate to improved percentages this season? Moto was a 4-star prospect coming out of high school and you would expect him to experience a major jump in offensive efficiency this season.

2012-2013 Stats Offensive Rating MPG PPG RPG APG FG% 3FG% FT%
Tyler Cavanaugh 83.4 16.7 5.0 2.5 0.5 32% 24% 76%

Tyler Cavanaugh came into Wake Forest with the reputation of a shooter, but he only shot 24% from three point land last season. Cavanaugh has good form and he took smart shots, but they just did not fall. It's certainly reasonable to expect him to improve on that percentage this season and attribute at least part of his low percentage last season to small sample size and bad luck. Again, with limited perimeter shooting on the roster, Cavanaugh's ability to knock down the three ball is essential. One area where Cavanaugh must improve is his ability to finish around the basket. He shot only 37% from inside the three point line, which was second worst on the team behind Chase Fischer. Cavanaugh looks leaner and is in better condition this season. Hopefully that translates into an increase in toughness and ability to finish around the basket.

2011-2012 Stats Offensive Rating MPG PPG RPG APG FG% 3FG% FT%
Daniel Green 80.3 7.4 1.4 1.7 0.2 35% 0% 58%

Daniel Green is a serious question mark headed into this season. Green was scheduled to be a starter for last year's team, but he tore his right ACL in an exhibition game in Canada last preseason and that forced him to sit out the year. Green had a setback this July and actually had to have outpatient surgery. Bzdelik recently said that Green could be back after Christmas, but at this point it's very difficult to predict what exactly to expect out of the big man.

Daniel Green played limited minutes as a freshman and when he was in he struggled offensively. Green looked noticeably better in last year's summer league and had added on more than 17 pounds of muscle, but that was against admittedly weaker competition and was 16 months and two knee surgeries ago. Any minutes that Green could provide in the front court would be welcomed additions as depth is a serious question mark at those positions.

2012-2013 Stats Offensive Rating MPG PPG RPG APG FG% 3FG% FT%
Madison Jones 81.0 18.8 3.6 1.1 2.1 50% 0% 49%

Madison Jones was a pleasant surprise for Wake fans last season. Jones was a late signing for the seven man recruiting class, but was a contributor coming off the bench. He had his ups and downs, but his quickness as well as defensive ability were welcomed sparks when he was brought in off the bench. Jones is also a strong passer and has a high assist rate. Madison started in the exhibition game against Brevard and reports seem to indicate that he'll be the starting point guard this season. If he does start that would move Codi Miller-McIntyre to the shooting guard position. Jones' biggest area for improvement is certainly his perimeter shooting. Jones was 0-7 from beyond the arc last season and made less than 50% of his free throw attempts. Point guards must be reliable free throw shooters if they are going to be on the court in tight games in the final minutes.

2012-2013 Stats Offensive Rating MPG PPG RPG APG FG% 3FG% FT%
Codi Miller-McIntyre 90.3 28.9 8.1 2.7 2.6 41% 32% 57%

Codi Miller-McIntyre was the most highly touted prospect of Wake Forest's seven man 2012 recruiting class. The former four star prospect was being heralded by the coaching staff before he even stepped onto campus and I believe that brought too much hype and pressure on the freshman. Still, Miller-McIntyre performed admirably considering he essentially had to learn to become a natural point guard at the ACC level. He was asked to play nearly 30 minutes per game, which is not as easy thing for a freshman. Still, despite the 'disappointment,' Miller-McIntyre averaged 8 points and nearly 3 rebounds and 3 assists per game.

This season I would love see him be more aggressive and attack the basket. He has all of the ability to do so, and his athleticism is his biggest asset on the basketball court. With highly touted point guard Shelton Mitchell coming to Wake Forest next season, it appears that Bzdelik is trying to transition Codi to the shooting guard. Given his pedigree, I expect Codi to have a breakout season.

2012-2013 Stats Offensive Rating MPG PPG RPG APG FG% 3FG% FT%
Aaron Rountree III 99.5 10.9 2.2 1.8 0.6 51% 33% 56%

Aaron Rountree is an absolute fan favorite among Demon Deacon fans. Rountree loves Wake Forest and plays with a tremendous amount of energy and passion. He does a bit of everything when he is on the court and typcically records a statistic in just about every category imaginable. Tree is 6 foot 8 but he sees the court very well and is an excellent passer for a player his size. His biggest question mark/weakness is his jump shot. Tree is a very hard worker, so let's see if that can become reliable this season. It would be a nice surprise.

"Tree" is also incredibly active and aggressive on the defensive end (sometimes to a fault). Given Jeff Bzdelik's plans to utilize a variety of full-court presses this season, Rountree could be very valuable to the team this season. If Rountree can create steals, then his ability to pass to open teammates and convert 2 on 1's or 3 on 2's becomes very valuable. Finishing in those types of situations is an area of improvement for the Deacs.

2012-2013 Stats Offensive Rating MPG PPG RPG APG FG% 3FG% FT%
Devin Thomas 92.4 27.3 9.1 7.5 1.3 50% 0% 55%

Devin Thomas may not be 40, but that doesn't mean he's not a man. He was rightfully named to the ACC All-Freshman team last year and I wouldn't count on a sophomore slump. Thomas plays with a non-stop motor and is relentless in pursuit of the basketball on the glass. He had his struggles last year, as almost all freshmen do, but the future is very bright for him. Free throw shooting was a weakness for him last season (55%), but that started to turn the corner for the better during the last third of the season. Devin is very good at drawing contact and earning trips to the foul line, so even a 10% jump to 65% would have tangible results and have a positive impact winning.

Devin's ability to knock down jumpers from the short corner will be big for the Deacs this season. In his monster game against North Carolina State he was able to knock that down against State's zone defense. Additionally, Thomas is a good passer for a big man and is also a willing passer. He will attract double teams and that should lead to open shots for Coron Williams. I also would look for some high-low action between him and Cavanaugh. I expect Thomas to be a 1st-team All-ACC player before he graduates.

2012-2013 Stats Offensive Rating MPG PPG RPG APG FG% 3FG% FT%
Andre Washington N/A 4.9 1.0 0.6 0.0 39% 0% 70%

Andre Washington saw limited action for the Deacs last season, so he is somewhat of an unknown commodity for the Deacs. He is quite tall at 7' 0", but his size limits his speed and ability to run the floor effectively. Wake Forest played the 33rd fastest tempo in the country last season, so it could be difficult for him to see minutes in that type of system. Additionally, if Wake is planning on pressing a lot this season, then you have to wonder how he fits into that system.

I will say that Andre does play hard and hustle. Hopefully he could provide some protection around the rim, because he would really be the only shot blocker on the team. Additionally, any help 'Dre' could give Wake in terms of offensive rebounding would be appreciated given that they finished 294th nationally in offensive rebounding % last season

Freshmen

Greg McClinton-

Greg McClinton will start the season on the sidelines because he tore his ACL in January and he is recovering from ACL surgery. McClinton is recovering at a very nice pace as he is already dunking the basketball with ease and participating in some drills during practice. It's expected that he could be back within a few weeks. McClinton's biggest strength is his athleticism and he should be part of a rotating cast of wing players in the full-court press. He also has a nice touch on his jumper. Given that he's a freshman coming of knee surgery, it's tough to know exactly what to expect from him this season, but he should have a fine career at Wake Forest.

Miles Overton-

Miles Overton is a shooting guard from Philadelphia who is known for his jumper. He could struggle defensively given his relative lack of lateral quickness, but he does possess high basketball IQ that can help to counter that. Overton has gotten in better shape since I saw him play in the summer league. He is one of the few outside shooters this team has, so I imagine that he'll see minutes this season. There are only 80 minutes to go around at the two guard positions so at times I'm sure Bzdelik may go to a three guard lineup to put Overton on the floor and add more shooting.

Conclusion

This should most definitely be the best basketball team Wake Forest has had under Jeff Bzdelik. This team has senior leadership and talent in Travis McKie and Coron Williams plus a host of sophomores who gained a lot of experience as freshmen due to the high number of minutes they played. Wake Forest has a very easy non-conference schedule and if this team wants to play postseason basketball then they must win at least 10 of their 13 non-conference games.

Wake's conference schedule is very difficult. The ACC has seven of the top 37 teams in the country according to Ken Pomeroy, and half of Wake Forest's conference games will be against those seven teams. Additionally, Wake Forest plays both Duke and North Carolina twice, and each of those teams is ranked in the top ten.

Ultimately this team should be much improved from last season, but so will a lot of teams in the ACC. This team could find a way to sneak into the N.I.T., but given the schedule I just don't believe they will win enough games to impress the committee. I believe Wake Forest will finish about 16-15 overall and 6-12 in the ACC. I hope I'm wrong. Do you all think I am?

For additional thoughts on Wake Forest's season outlook be sure to checkout Blogger So Dear's podcast, "Roll the Quadcast" where Riley Johnston and myself preview the team.

Also be sure to checkout our podcast where we previewed the every ACC basketball team.

The Blogger So Dear staff took a stab at predicting the ACC season.

For our entire stream getting you ready for Wake Forest and ACC hoops click here.

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