2014-2015 Wake Forest Basketball Preview

Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

Wake Forest may not have a head coach, but it's never too early to take a look at what to expect from next year's team.

The 2014-2015 season is more than seven months away and we don't have a coach yet, but that doesn't stop the Blogger So Dear crew from previewing the upcoming season. We've spent so much time reviewing candidates, that we figured it would be good to take a look at who the new coach would be coaching. All articles published by "Blogger So Dear Staff" are collaborative efforts and we want to share the credit because, like Chris Paul and Cliff Paul, we were "born to assist."

Follow the staff on Twitter: Bart Johnston, Griffin Kurzius, Riley Johnston, Robert Reinhard, Shayn Fernandez, Samurai Foochs, and Wake Jake.

Juniors

Tyler Cavanaugh

After a pretty sub-par freshman year, Tyler Cavanaugh had a resurgent sophomore campaign, and likely tied with Moto for most-improved player on the team last year. He brought his offensive rating from a woeful 83.4 his first year, to an above average 102.5 this past year. He also turned himself into a reasonable defensive rebounder, and showed an enhanced ability to get to the free throw line (where he is a 79% shooter). His physical strength remains a weakness for sure, but if he can continue to get into the weight room and work on his inside game, a starting spot seems to be a definite possibility for him next year under the new coach.

Madison Jones

Madison is coming off a sophomore year in which he averaged 20 minutes a game and contributed three points, three assists, and one rebound per game. Most of his action was spelling Codi at the point and he saw his minutes decline as the season went on while Overton's time started to increase towards the end of the season. Madison's greatest strength is his speed and on-ball defending, where Jones has shown an ability to use his quick hands to generate fastbreak opportunities. The next coach will need to work with Madison on lowering his turnover rate, which at 38.4% is ridiculously high for any ball-handler who will be expected to provide meaningful minutes moving forward. Jones will be needed next year off the bench to provide some leadership when Codi and Shelton need blows. If Madison can work on finishing in traffic and drastically cut down on his tendencies to turn the ball over, he can easily see his minutes increase and provide Wake with depth at the guard position.

Codi Miller-McIntyre

Codi has the potential to be an all-ACC caliber player and he started to show more flashes of his talent during his sophomore season. Miller-McIntyre started off the season incredibly strong as he scored 20 or more points in five of the team's first six games. He had a very high usage rate while on the court and still maintained an above average offensive rating. His shooting is an area for improvement, but hopefully moving to the two guard next year allows him to utilize his penetration ability, which is his biggest asset. He took a lot of positive steps this year in that he dramatically improved his assist rate and reduced his turnover rate. His mid-range jumper was also improved. If he can just get a more consistent jump shot then he could absolutely be all-ACC next season.

Arnaud William Adala Bill Moto

Throughout the 2013-2014 season, Moto showed continued improvement in many facets of his game. While he continued to be an effective defensive and offensive rebounder (top 300 nationally in both categories), his largest improvement in the eyes of many was his decision-making. Instead of settling for 3-point shots, he drove the ball into the teeth of the defense to get easy buckets or earn trips to the FT line, where he improved from 59% to 65% this season. During his freshman season he averaged .8 three-point attempts per game which was down to .2 last season despite playing about three more minutes per game. Coming off averages of 7 points and 5 rebounds last season, Moto will look to help pick up some of the slack left by the graduation of Travis McKie. The combination of Moto, Cavanaugh, and McClinton gives Wake a variety of forwards to utilize depending on match-ups or game situations. Look for the Cameroon native to continue his upward trajectory and please #BillMotoGang members nation-wide.


Aaron Rountree III

Tree is the ultimate glue guy who thrives in creating chaos for opposing teams on both ends of the floor. Tree's intensity every time he is on the floor is his biggest asset and despite only getting ten minutes a game, he averaged at least half an assist, block, and steal in addition to contributing a couple points and rebounds a game. Wake doesn't need Tree to be a scorer moving forward, but needs him to continue to bring the high energy and intensity he does every time he's on the floor. This should not be a challenge for Aaron who has a high basketball IQ coupled with sheer athleticism and length. Next season Tree will likely see a slight bump in minutes and is an extremely valuable defensive asset. On offense he needs to continue to work on developing his ball handling and jumper, as he doesn't strike me as an extremely effective back-to-the-basket player. With some work on the offensive end, there's no reason to believe that he cannot contribute five or six points a game with two or three rebounds while continuing to wreak havoc (pun intended?) on defense. Tree is the type of player any good team needs coming off the bench to provide the team with a spark, and provide the crowd a fan favorite to get behind and keep the energy high throughout the game.

Devin Thomas

Thomas comes off a sophomore season in which he averaged 11 points and 7.5 rebounds per game. Despite being 6’9 Thomas played the center position for the entire 2013-14 season. Against teams like Notre Dame, Thomas was able to use his speed to dominate his bigger and less athletic opponent. When teams matched Thomas up with a smaller defender he was able to use his size to work the offensive and defensive glass. However, against teams with a versatile front court such as Pittsburgh or Florida State, Thomas became frustrated and fell pray to quick and unnecessary fouls. Only having one other strong rebounder (Moto) often left Thomas to shoulder the load and put him in vulnerable position. An aspect of Thomas’ game that is somehow overlooked is his ability to pass from the post. Even in games like North Carolina and Duke, when Thomas wasn’t scoring his presence was felt due to his ability to get the ball to cutting guards or pass out of a double team. Thomas had his struggles and emotional breakdowns but I believe he is the player that makes Wake go. His hustle and passion are unquestionable but he needs to learn how to reign that in and use it to his advantage. Devin would also benefit from working on free throws as he was fouled on 67.2% of his field goal attempts but only made 53% of his free throws. I expect Devin to work on this free throws and mid-range game during the offseason, and I think a new coach could do wonders for reigning in his emotional levels to make them a greater asset.

Andre Washington

Andre Washington is a 7 foot big man who has shown flashes of skill for his size. At 7 foot, Dre has both the skills and size to be an impact college center. He didn’t get as much minutes as some fans would have liked as he played only 17.3% of the minutes. However, Washington has a ridiculous ability to block shots (17% of two-point field goal attempts) and knock down mid-range jumpers. He really seemed to excel when Wake was in the zone defense, as his weak side help allowed him to block shots and get in the passing lane without venturing too far from the basket. I believe that Dre will have far more opportunities next season, especially if Devin Thomas gets into early foul trouble. I also believe if he can improve his footwork he would be more comfortable playing a man defense and fans would truly see his unique skill set. I would also like to see more situations with him and Thomas side by side as it would allow guys like Cavanaugh to venture a little bit further from the basket and relieve some of Devin’s rebounding responsibilities. I have a lot of confidence in Washington’s game and I think with some work and more opportunities everyone would see why I am team #TheyForgotAboutDre.

Sophomores

Daniel Green

There is nobody that works harder and does the right thing more than Daniel Green. "The Silent Assassin’s" words might not jump out, but his effort does. Green has bulked up significantly since his freshman season and looks eager to body down low with the ACC’s best. After being the projected starting center in 2012-2013, he has missed the last two seasons because of knee injuries. If he can return healthy, the Deacs will get another rotational big along with Devin and Andre that can rebound and pose many different lineup options for the new head coach—exactly what Wake lacked last season.

Miles Overton

Early in the season, Miles Overton still looked like a high schooler playing in the ACC. But to his credit, he made great strides during the season. By the end of ACC play, the 6’3" shooting guard was seeing 10+ minutes a game and looked confident and mature on the court. Known for his shooting ability, Overton shot 33% from behind the arc on the season, but shot 41.2% from three in the final 11 games. As a sophomore, Overton should expect to replace Coron Williams’s role as the sharpshooter off-the-bench, albeit in fewer minutes because Codi, Madison and Shelton are all expected to receive substantial time.

Freshmen

Greg McClinton

Greg is a 6'7" 185 pound forward who was heavily recruited by a variety of schools including Xavier, Alabama, Louisville, and Miami. A product of Hargrave Military Academy and a local from Winston-Salem, McClinton redshirted his freshman year with a torn ACL. McClinton projects as an extremely effective small forward for the Deacs and a lot of talk before last season surrounded his position as a potential starter if he had not been saddled with the knee injury. McClinton has the ability to step out and shoot the three while also using his athleticism to put the ball on the ground and attack the rim. Similarly, Greg showed an ability to hit the glass hard on both ends in high school and AAU ball and will likely fit the mold of a Travis McKie type rebounder. The next coach should be able to take McClinton's athleticism and turn him into a very good ACC starter. The biggest story from the 2013-14 season about McClinton was his intensity at halftime of the home game against Clemson where, by almost every account, McClinton stepped up and blasted the team for their poor play. A natural leader, an impressive athlete, and four years at Mother So Dear is a fantastic combination. I expect McClinton to start from almost day one at the three position.

Shelton Mitchell

Shelton Mitchell is a highly touted point guard who spent his final season at the prestigious Oak Hill Academy. Although he missed the season due to a meniscus injury, it should tell you something that head coach Steve Smith recruited him to be his point guard. Notable point guard alums include Rajon Rondo, Brandon Jennings and Ty Lawson, among countless high major players. The BSD staff has seen Shelton in person numerous times and has come away impressed with his court vision and passing ability each time. He's a crafty lefty, who may have an unorthodox shot, but it's still effective. I expect Shelton to get significant playing time next season and I encourage Wake fans to check him out at the Triad Pro Am Summer League in several months.

Rondale Watson

According to 247Sports, Watson chose Wake Forest over East Tennessee State on September 18th. Honestly, there isn't a lot of information out there on him, but at 6-foot-3, 175, it seems that next year will be a transitional year for him as he adjusts to the size and speed of the college game. We honestly don't expect a lot from him out of the gates, but hopefully he can turn into a role player down the road for the Deacs. Watson averaged 21.6 points, 3 assists and 8 rebounds per game during his junior season and 25.6 points, 6.1 assists and 7.3 rebounds as a senior.

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