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Wake Forest Basketball: 2016 Recruiting Class Senior Season Update

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How are the 2016 recruiting class commits performing in their senior seasons?

Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

It’s been over a month since National Signing Day when Danny Manning brought in his second full recruiting class as head coach of Wake Forest. Brandon Childress, Richard Washington, Donovan Mitchell, and Sam Japhet-Mathias are all well into their senior seasons as they play their final high school games before jumping to the next level. You may have casually monitored how each one of them played over the summer in AAU ball, but following the long and quiet high school season is often far more difficult. So how are each of our 2016 commits playing as they approach the midway point of their senior season? Here’s all the info I’ve been able to gather on their performances so far this year.

Richard Washington

Washington plays his high school ball for Walsingham Academy in the Tidewater Conference of Independent Schools (VA). The Trojans are off to a fantastic start in 2015-16 with a 9-1 record to date and a couple wins in the Life and Breath Tournament in early December. Washington has been doing a little bit of everything for the team on the offensive and defensive side of the ball, often putting up stat lines that have a healthy amount of assists, blocks, and rebounds. His best game of the year might have come on Saturday when he had 38 points (30 of which were in the 2nd half) to lead Walsingham to a 71-66 comeback win in OT.

Other stat lines for Washington this season are:

(Newest to Oldest)

23 points, 9 rebounds against Atlantic Shores

21 points, 8 rebounds (6-6 from FT line in 4th quarter) against Covenant Life

23 points, Game winning FT’s in OT against Highland

15 points against Richmond Christian

23 points, 9 rebounds against HRA, Named to All-Tournament Team

15 points against Amelia Academy

30 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists, 5 steals, 3 blocks against Christchurch

16 points against Summit Christian

27 points, 13 rebounds, 6 assists, 5 steals against Hampton Christian

It’s important to note that in some games where his point total is lower (Ex: Summit Christian, Richmond Christian) his minutes were likely severely limited due to the game being a blowout (Walsingham beat these opponents by a combined 84 points). The team’s only loss came in the Amelia Academy game in the first round of the Dave Travis Invitational. Washington was later named 1st Team All-Tournament following the Consolation Matchup against HRA.

Below are some highlights from Washington’s season so far. You’ll notice his vision is certainly something that will translate to the next level and will be an asset in a Deacon uniform in 2016. The smooth jumper that we’ve become familiar with in all of his highlight reels is on display as well.

Sam Japhet-Mathias

Due to the fact that SJM moved back to England for his final year of high school basketball, it is a lot harder to get reports on his play. The 2016 big man plays for City of London Academy, which plays in the Elite Academy Basketball League against some of the best programs in Britain. So far CoLA is 6-0 averaging 86.7 PPG and a win margin of 18.7.

Despite CoLA’s great success so far this season, SJM was not listed as a league leader in any of the statistical categories for the EABL East Division. Game recaps for the EABL have infrequently mentioned his name apart from two articles which noted he scored 12 points against Itchen College on October 21st and 8 points (Including three huge dunks) against Hammersmith College on September 25th. Since then I have not been able to find many statistics on his play, which makes me wonder if he is indeed injured.

One thing to note, however, is that CoLA seems to have a deep and balanced lineup, as they are one of the most talented offensive teams in the division yet have nobody in the top 10 in scoring. From game recaps I have read it seems like Coach Muschett plays a fairly deep rotation and this could prevent SJM from being able to put up big numbers with limited playing time.

The EABL has a stats spreadsheet PDF, but it only lists statistics from the first 4 games of the year. SJM played in 3 of those games and was 13 of 26 from the field, with 9.3 PPG, 4.7 RPG, and 1.0 APG. In those games he averaged the 3rd most shots of anyone on the team so it is clear he is a big part of the offense when he is indeed playing. The fact he had only played in 3 of those games (Not four) and he hasn’t been mentioned in any recaps since October 21 makes me wonder if he has been sidelined with an injury over the last couple of months. Hopefully, SJM’s impact picks back up in the second half of the season and City of London Academy has a strong finish to the year.

Donovan Mitchell

Not many would’ve guessed that it is harder to find stats on California high school basketball than from a conference across the Atlantic, but it turns out that is the case. Updates on the 5-5 Buchanan Bears basketball team are few and far between on social media and the high school’s website. Despite the lack of updates, all indications are that Donovan Mitchell was having a strong start to his senior season for the Bears.

In the opening game of the year Mitchell had a game-tying 3 in the closing seconds against Mission Oak to send the game to OT and followed that with a key 3-point play to win the game for Buchanan in the extra period. A few weeks later Mitchell went on to win the Dunk Contest at the McDonald’s Classic in Stockton, CA. A few posterizing dunks of Mitchell’s have been posted on twitter this season and they certainly are highlights that will get Deacon Nation excited.

Unfortunately it seems as though Donovan picked up an injury about two weeks and has been forced to sit out some of the Bears' recent games. By the looks of his twitter it seems as though the injury is ligament/muscle related rather than bone related based on his reference to something being "torn." If I receive an update on the extent of his injury I will post it below. Of course, we're all wishing him a healthy and quick recovery.

I remain a big fan of Mitchell and his versatility to play anywhere from the 1-4 for his high school team and being a "Point Forward" that Danny Manning can develop however he wants. The ceiling is very high for Donovan and I look forward to hearing more about his senior season in 2016.

Brandon Childress

Wesleyan Christian Academy has become a big time program in recent years and so reports on Brandon Childress’ season have been pleasantly frequent so far. The Spartans just took part in one of the best showcases around at the City of Palms Classic that featured top schools from across the nation. In the opener, Childress had a team-high 19 points, was 9 of 10 from the line, and added on 6 rebounds, 3 steals, and 3 assists to propel WCA over Wheeler. He followed up that performance with a 23 point day, going 7 of 9 from the field with 4 assists and 5 steals to help lead WCA to a comeback victory.

Tuesday he was matched up against 4* PG Payton Pritchard and West Linn, and while his shooting struggled, he did manage to have 8 points and 6 rebounds to his name. Although Childress doesn’t often lead his team in scoring, scouts’ recent analysis of the future Deacon PG has been nothing short of fantastic.

People have often commented on his toughness and ability to takeover a game and I think these two traits are the things Wake fans will look forward to the most in 2016 and beyond. Brandon has a comptetitiveness that few other recruits in his high school class have, and while skills like shooting, dribbling, and passing can all be developed, toughness is something that is far harder to instill in a player who doesn’t have it already. Great things are to come from Agent Zero in the Black and Gold.

That’s all I have for now as far as updates on the Deacs’ 2016 commits. For more frequent and daily information on Donovan, Brandon, Samuel, and Richard, follow me on twitter @DeacFan3 as I comment and RT information on how their senior years are progressing. As always, Go Deacs!