The Triad Pro-Am begins tonight, and with it comes the first glance at the 2013-2014 Wake Forest basketball team. It's always a fun event to take the kids to and get to see the players up close and personal. If you get the chance then be sure to walk up and talk to the guys on the team. They love it and like to talk to the fans that come out to support them.
While this event is a good way to get to know the team a little better and see who has gained some weight and height, what it is not meant to do is project how good or bad the Wake Forest basketball team will be next year.
I have covered the Pro-Am the past 4 years, including the past two years as a statistician of sorts. By looking at the numbers in-depth, it really does nothing at all to project how well a player will do when ACC games roll around in January.
L.D. Williams was (and still is) a Pro-Am stud, especially from behind the 3-point line, where I am nearly sure that he has shot around 50% career during the games. That didn't really transfer over to his game when the lights come on, shooting 39%, 30%, 25%, and 16% during his four years at Mother So Dear.
I guarantee what will be seen and heard during the Summer League is: a ton of from live tweeters, message board posters and sunshine brigaders raving about how much weight "so-and-so" has gained since last season.
There will inevitably be a remark about how the kids really enjoy playing with each other.
With regards to our recent makeover into a "choir boy" team there will also definitely be comments about how these guys are very respectful, unlike the hooligans that muddied the Pro-Am Summer League (and Wake Forest) in years past.
All of these comments may possibly be correct, especially the ones regarding the change in physique of several players out there. What it will not do at all is provide a clear picture at all as to how well they will play together when the fall semester starts.
Can there be indicators and perhaps some hints as to who has been working on their game and in what regards they are improving? Of course, especially if somebody has clearly improved their decision-making or drastically altered their shot to a more traditional form. Those are minor things that can be taken into account.
Since I cannot make it to the Summer League this year, this is what I would be interested in hearing from those that attend:
1. What does Robert Morris transfer Coron Williams look like on the court?
Although I watched a couple of Robert Morris games last season, I do not recall specifically how he played during those games and he didn't stick out to me as good or bad. Wake Forest needs Williams to come in and light it up from behind the three-point line, as well as provide some good senior leadership. Check out how he interacts with the guys, as well as how the form on his jumper is. While the former may not indicate a lot, by looking at his form and technique, it will probably show a lot about his overall shooting ability.
2. How have Arnauld Moto and Aaron Rountree have bulked up from last season?
This is more of a look at Rountree, because he needed to gain a fair amount of muscle to be able to bang a little bit more in the conference. Rountree was made for Summer League and he will be extremely fun to watch, so keep an eye on him. For Moto it will be interesting to see if he has become more comfortable slashing with the ball and relying less on his three-point shot. He can be an excellent slasher and it would be nice to see him take it right at opponents in the Summer League.
3. Codi Miller-McIntyre and Madison Jones at the PG position.
While there was a PG controversy of sorts between Madison Jones and CMM towards the end of the year, it would probably be in the best interest of the Wake Forest potential ceiling for CMM to take the starting PG spot due to his improvement from last year. Jones turned the ball over at a much higher rate than CMM did last year, but also provided the 75th best steal rate in the country, along with a high block and assist percentage for a PG. Hopefully their competition will push each other to be better.
4. What has Travis McKie added to his game this year?
Travis McKie came out last year and lit up the Summer League throughout, especially with his three-point shooting. That did not translate to the college basketball season, where McKie only shot 32%. I am eager to see what Travis has added to his game during the off-season. If he has bulked up a little and worked on his driving ability it would be very helpful as another offensive option. His inability to create his own shot has been a problem in the past, so hopefully the 3-point shooting of Williams and McKie's slashing ability will be two assets to the team this year.
5. How do the big guys look?
I'm talking about Devin Thomas, Andre Washington and Tyler Cavanaugh with this point. Thomas is proving to be the big man of the future for us and will hopefully continue to improve the weaknesses of his game (free throw shooting and right hand at the basket). What I want to see is how Washington and Cavanaugh have improved from last year. The big thing to be seen in the Summer League is confidence for the two gentlemen. If they have worked hard in the weight room and developing skills around the basket then it should translate against the smaller opponents in the Summer League. I would love to see them both put up good rebounding numbers against the competition this summer.
6. What can Miles Overton bring to us?
Since Greg McClinton is still out while continuing to rehab his torn ACL from last year, Miles Overton is the only freshman playing in the Summer League for the Deacs this year. Overton is supposedly a good shooter, but what else can he bring to the table for Wake Forest? Williams will almost certainly start over Overton at the 2-guard spot, but can Overton provide minutes with good shooting this year? That will be something off the bench to provide a nice spark.
Basically, there are a ton of questions surrounding the team this year. Despite only one freshman, Wake Forest is still *gulp* young, and will hopefully show some leaps from last year. Remember though, no matter how much it looks like everybody has improved (and I am sure that many of them have taken big steps forward), every other team in the country has improved and worked hard too. Wake Forest does not exist in a vacuum, and these steps forward are very necessary to get back to respectability in the ACC and nationally.
Enjoy the Summer League, take your kids out and meet some of the players. It's a great event for that and to see a lot of offense where defense is optional.
What I would not do is take what you have seen and then believe that Wake Forest is going to be a top 5 team in the ACC next year based on it. Could the Deacs be? Maybe, but nothing that is seen over the next few weeks will provide obvious answers as to how good the team will be next year.