The Wake Forest basketball program has announced that sophomore guards Cornelius Hudson and Rondale Watson have been suspended indefinitely. They were suspended for a violation of departmental rules, and are eligible to return once they have met the criteria for reinstatement. Where does this leave the Wake Forest backcourt?
Depth is now a major concern for Wake Forest at the beginning of the season. Several months ago, senior guard Madison Jones was dismissed from the program. Last week, it was announced that Codi Miller-McIntyre had a foot fracture and would be out 4-6 weeks. Today, it comes out that Wake Forest will be without Cornelius Hudson and Rondale Watson. What will the new rotation look like?
Freshman Bryant Crawford is going to have to play 30+ minutes per game until Hudson returns. I'm a big believer in the 4-star's ability, but he is just a freshman. Even after Hudson returns, I have to think that Crawford will play at least 25 minutes per game. Hudson will primarily play the 3, but the two wing positions are fairly interchangeable in Manning's offense. Sophomore Mitchell Wilbekin is also going to have to play 30+ minutes per game. He can Crawford will split ball-handling duties, but the staff will probably want Wilbekin off-ball more so that he can catch-and-shoot from deep. Greg McClinton should see some increased time on the wing, but he cannot stretch the floor nearly as well as Hudson can.
In addition to Wilbekin, McClinton, and Crawford playing heavy minutes, we should expect to see more of Trent VanHorn. VanHorn joined the team as a walk-on, but was awarded a scholarship this season once Madison Jones was dismissed from the team. VanHorn averaged 28.5 points per game as a senior in high school, so he has some game. I don't know exactly how many minutes he will play, but I don't think that it will be an insignificant number.
While Rondale did not play much last year, he would have had to play during the early part of this season. With Jones and Miller-McIntyre both out, Watson would have gotten 10 or so minutes.
Wake Forest will be good enough to beat UMBC at home in their opener, but two days later they play at Bucknell. This is a game where they are only a 2-point favorite, according to Ken Pom. Keep in mind that Ken Pom's projections are based on both teams being at full strength, which Wake Forest clearly is not. Bucknell also lost by just 7 points last year at the Joel. If Hudson and Watson aren't back for the Richmond game, then the Deacs could also be in serious trouble for that game. For a team trying to make a post-season tournament, Wake has to win these games early on.
The Deacs will need to run the offense through big man Devin Thomas at the beginning of the season. His body is more toned, and hopefully that allows him to maintain high intensity levels throughout the season. He's a more than capable player, and can win games almost by himself. He's going to need to lead this team to start the season.
The first exhibition game is this Friday night. We'll start to get a feel for the rotations.