As Danny Manning begins his first true offseason as Wake Forest's Head Coach he turns his focus to the crucial 2016 class as well as a possible late addition to the already promising 2015 signees. As you probably know by now, Wake has already signed two highly regarded post players, John Collins and Doral Moore, as well as DC Gatorade POY Bryant Crawford, a physical point guard. With the recent announcement that Aaron Rountree will graduate and transfer, the Deacs suddenly have at least one more scholarship to possibly fill in the coming months.
Immediately after the Rountree announcement came out, Wake Forest offered a scholarship to Malik Ellison, a fringe 4* shooting guard from New Jersey who stands 6'6". If you recognize the name, it is not a coincidence. His father is noted Louisville legend Pervis Ellison, the #1 draft pick in 1989 and currently Malik's high school coach. Danny Manning was the #1 pick the year before Ellison. It appears that Minnesota and Maryland are the biggest competition to land the younger Ellison, but he has not announced any upcoming visits at this point in time. Getting him on campus soon for an official visit is likely a priority for the staff.
Another name that was mentioned in late 2014 was shooting guard Curtis Cobb, but we have not seen anything further on him in the last few months. As the coaching carousel continues to spin, many recruits who committed to fired coaches will likely change their minds. As those names start to pop up, that will be another area that could be beneficial to Manning and staff. Graduate transfers, as was the case for the last two years with Coron Williams and Darius Leonard, are always a low-risk proposition as well.
The 2016 class will likely be a huge factor in rebuilding Wake Forest back into its pre-2011 form. While the picture will crystallize considerably over the Spring and Summer AAU seasons, there are a few clear priority targets at this time. Everyone in the area knows that Harry Giles is the ultimate prize for Wake Forest in the class. Since the day that Manning was named HC, Wake has done everything they can to recruit the #1 player in 2016. On the first morning of the recruiting period before WF had any 2015 commitments, Manning was in High Point working on Giles 2 years in advance. Obviously going up against Kentucky, Duke and North Carolina is the tallest task in college basketball, but Manning will not back down until he hears otherwise.
The staff does not have to go far to recruit a few of the other 2016 targets either. Brandon Childress, who committed to Wake last October, will be looking to recruit his backcourt mate Kwe Parker to Wake as well. Parker, who is known for his high-flying mixtapes, suffered a broken foot in February and his timetable to return this summer is currently unclear. Wake will be competing with Florida State and Louisville, among others, for his services.
The most recent developments for 2016 recruiting are at the center position. Rodney Miller, a center who attends Oak Hill, recently took an unofficial visit to Wake and favors the Deacs according to 247. Miller is a top 75 player nationally and would give Manning his third true post man in two years. Similarly, Schnider Herard is a center from Plano, Texas who is listing Wake and is also a top 75 player. Adding one of these two bigs to the fold would be another big step for Manning's attempt to build significant post depth beginning in 2016.
Wake will likely give out four or five scholarships in 2016 and the last key piece in addition to those above is a top 100 SG or SF who can stretch the floor. A preliminary name that comes to mind for this spot is Eli Wright, but there has been less information regarding this position at the time. As this picture becomes a bit clearer we'll keep you updated on the new names and details.
As a reminder, if you forget the scholarship situation at Wake a great source is Verbal Commits. This site contains an updated chart for current players and has a list of the known open offers for recruits as well.
Rob and I will be at the NC Top 80 event in Greensboro on Saturday, which should give us plenty of insight on a few 2016 guys, but especially on the 2017 and 2018 classes coming up. There is a ton of talent in state, so keeping a few of them in Winston-Salem is always key for Wake Forest basketball.
If you have any questions regarding the prospects above or others that I failed to mention, drop me a line in the comments and I'll do my best to answer.