Lightly recruited out of Thessaloniki, Greece, Wake Forest fans had no idea what to expect with lanky 6-10 power forward Dinos Mitoglou last season. The coaching staff touted his advanced shooting prowess, Coach Manning even stated to Blogger So Dear last season, "He is a great shooter for someone at his size, and frankly, his age."
After 32 games and 13 starts, Mitoglou lived up to the high praise from the coaching staff. "The Greek Deac," who averaged 9.7 ppg and 4.6 rbg and shot 38.5 percent behind the arc, boasts one of the quickest and purest releases in the ACC. His ability to stretch the floor from the perimeter perfectly complements the ground-and-pound Devin Thomas (and John Collins) who excel on the low block. His consistency beyond the arc will force defenders to play him tight, and thus cannot lag into the lane and double-team. His ability to strike from deep will directly impact the amount of 1-on-1 open looks Thomas receives in the post and the amount of space Codi Miller-McIntyre will have driving to the basket.
With a year under his belt, Mitoglou needs to elevate his game for the Demon Deacons to reach postseason play for the first time since the Dino Gaudio era. Wake has its 1A and 1B scoring options with Thomas and Miller-McIntyre (when healthy). What they need is a stronger and more-imposing Mitoglou to be a true stretch-four and fill the shoes as the third point of attack on offense.
Last season, he showed signs of this ability. The 26 point game (10-13 FG) in the Carrier Dome was majestic. His 21 points (6-7 from three) and eight rebounds led the Deacs to a key 72-70 home victory over Miami. However, these lightning-in-a-bottle games can be countered by several more games where he didn't get looks early and became timid in the second half. He is the best shooter on the roster and needs to stroke it with confidence early and often.
This improvement is absolutely attainable and the type of development one expects from a second year player. An additional year in Manning's system with the same core players will improve their collectively timing and spacing. Also, an additional 15-20 lbs will allow him to be more physical on both ends of the floor. Objective sources expect substantial improvement as well: Draft Express ranks him as the 30th best sophomore NBA Draft Prospect.
Mitoglou's rare skillset, Wake's frontcourt depth and the lack of backcourt depth due to the suspensions of Cornelius Hudson and Rondale Watson and the injury of Miller-McIntyre presents an interesting predicament for the coaching staff. Clearly short for bodies, don't be surprised if they tinker with "The Greek Deac" at small forward for a few minutes a game in a similar fashion to the Bulls with Nikola Mirotic. With only Bryant Crawford, Mitchell Wilbekin, Greg McClinton and Trent VanHorn for three wing positions, it's worth a shot. Yes, Wake will have a dearth of ballhandlers and Mitoglou will struggle to hang with small forwards defensively, but there are no wings that can contest his shot. This jumbo lineup presents Thomas, Collins and Doral Moore with massive mismatches and puts opponents in an unusual and uncomfortable situation.
Overall, several coaches, including Jim Boeheim, recently said that he expects the Demon Deacons to be a sneaky-good team in a deep ACC. Finally, Wake has the talent and experience to enter the ACC's middle tier with Miami, Pittsburgh, and Florida State. For the Demon Deacons to fulfill these goals and reach the postseason, Dinos Mitoglou needs to fill hos role as a consistent third option on offense and a key clog on defense. After the unheralded "Greek Deac" lived up to his lofty billing last season, there's no reason to think he can't successfully step into a larger role in 2015-2016.