The Wake Forest Demon Deacons completed the non-conference portion of their schedule with a 77-71 victory at LSU. That win moved the Deacs to 9-3 on the season, gave them another impressive accolade to put on their resume. A key factor in Wake Forest's success has been how well the freshmen have performed. I take a deeper dive into how well each has performed so far, and what we can expect moving forward.
Before the season started I wrote what I considered to be a fairly glowing scouting report of Bryant Crawford. Turns out I undersold the impact he would have this early on for the Deacs. He is shooting an astounding 42% from deep, and perimeter shooting was a question mark for him headed into the season. However, he is shooting just 36% from inside the arc, and must work on finish around the basket. He's also turning it over 4.1 times per game, which is a result of him playing out of control at times and attempting to make a spectacular play.
Crawford is fearless. He made some massive shots late against Indiana, was sensational in the second-half comeback at Bucknell, and made a critical three late against LSU. His performance against LSU was outstanding. He finished with 19 points on just 10 shots, and was 3 of 5 from deep. He had 3 assists, and also had just 3 turnovers. Danny Manning has his point guard. Crawford has all of the tools to be one of the best point guards in the country. His vision is exceptional, and his decision making will only get better with time.
The fact that he was not ranked by many recruiting services only gets more laughable by the day. What a phenomenal job of identifying talent by Danny Manning and his staff, and also beating out Miami for the Florida native. Our own WakeJake was a big believer in Collins very early on, so I have to give him some credit for seeing the potential in Collins.
The freshman is averaging 9 points and 5 rebounds per game, while playing only 15 minutes per contest. He has very good post moves for a freshman, and is shooting 63% from the field, and has also made 74% of his free throws. He is damn strong, and can block a lot of shots. Why doesn't he play more than 15 minutes per contest? He probably should get a little bit more playing time, but he is behind Devin Thomas and Dinos Mitoglou. He also averages a whopping 7.3 fouls per 40 minutes. Last time I checked, a college basketball player fouls out after 5 fouls. At his current rate, he would foul out after 27 minutes of play. That's correctable, and will improve over time.
Collins has an excellent base to build on, and he will only get better under the guidance of Danny Manning, who is arguably the best big man coach in the country. I do expect to see Collins see more minutes as ACC play begins, and he should be starter for the final three years of his Wake Forest career. He can be an all-ACC player before his career is over.
Doral Moore had the highest composite recruiting ranking of the entire Wake Forest recruiting class. Danny Manning was practically Doral Moore's shadow during Moore's AAU Tournament games in the summer of 2014. If Moore was there, odds are the former Kansas legend was nearby. Manning's dedication paid off with a commitment from Moore.
Is Moore raw? Yes, but his improvement from just this summer is undeniable. At 7'1" 265 pounds, with room to add more weight, he has the potential to be an absolute force. He is averaging just 6 minutes per contest, which is probably a good number at this point in his career, and with the other big men on the team. He has shown nice touch up to about 10 feet out, and has made 52% of his field goal attempts. While he has only played 6 minutes per game, he still averages 1 block and more than 2 rebounds per game. Those are excellent rates. While we can't exactly expect that production to be increase at a linear rate as his minutes increase, it's highly encouraging.
He has to get better at setting screens, as he gets called for illegal screens, and he also has to improve his positional defense. He can make up for some of his positional deficiencies with his exceptional length and athleticism, but he still gets lost too often. Still, he can be an excellent rim protector for years to come. The sky is the limit for Moore, and I can't wait to see what Manning turns him into.
You forgot about Keyshawn Woods didn't you? It's easy to forget about a transfer who has to sit out this season, but I'm going to group him with the 2015 recruiting class, since he will be sophomore next season. He is a transfer from Charlotte, and was a 4-star recruit according to Scout.com coming out of high school.
Woods played 25 minutes per game for Charlotte last season, and averaged more than 8 points per game. He also made 46.6% of his three point attempts, which led Conference USA. He also made 50% of his two-point field goals, so he is more than just a shooter. He probably won't start next year, though he could. Either way, he'll be an excellent contributor off the bench. His perimeter shooting will be a threat by itself, and will also create spacing to open up driving lanes, and room for the big men to operate.