Wake Forest made Jayson Tatum's top 10 schools several months ago. Today he announced his final four school choices in alphabetical order: Duke, Kentucky, North Carolina, and St. Louis. The bad news for the Wake Forest basketball program is not missing out on Tatum, but rather that there have been significant talks of a package deal involving Tatum, and fellow 5-star prospects Harry Giles and Dennis Smith, Jr. Wake Forest, as readers of this website are aware, has been very involved with Giles since he was in middle school. In the most recent Rivals recruiting rankings Giles was ranked 2nd, Tatum was ranked 3rd, and Smith was ranked 4th. If a school does land all three, then that school will have the best recruiting class in the country by a considerable margin.
Jayson Tatum (@Im_that_dude22) announces he is down to Duke, Kentucky, North Carolina and Saint Louis. Elite 2016 prospect.— Evan Daniels (@EvanDaniels) April 10, 2015
The timing of this announcement is unfortunate given this tweet from Dennis Smith, Jr. on Monday night just moments after the Duke basketball program won its 5th national championship. If there were questions before about a potential package deal, then it certainly seems that things have heated up given this tweet. Maybe I'm reading too much into one tweet, but I wouldn't call the tweet insignificant. To make matters even worse for Wake, it seems that the trio is leaning towards attending Duke, who Wake plays twice annually. If they do end up being a package, then ideally for Wake they just end up going to Kentucky.
Danny Manning and Wake Forest have gone all-in to recruit Harry Giles. He is consistently on campus, Manning made a point to "re-offer" Giles the first day he was allowed to meet in-person with recruits. This was even before the staff had one committed prospect for the 2015 class. Manning, or someone on Wake's staff, also attended nearly every high school game that Giles played, assuming that Wake Forest did not have a game of its own that night. Wake offered a number of his high school teammates, including landing point guard Brandon Childress. They are also highly involved with Giles' other teammate , 4-star guard Kwe Parker.
Time will tell where these prospects ultimately end up, but this is not a positive sign for Wake's chances to land the highly coveted Harry Giles. Giles would be a "program changing" recruit for Wake Forest, but the 2016 recruiting class will not be a failure if the staff fails to land Giles. In addition to Giles, Wake is in the mix with a number of 4-star big men, including Rodney Miller of Oak Hill and Schnider Herard out of Plano, Texas. Manning and his staff have proven to be strong at recruiting and identifying talent.
This offseason is critical for the Wake Forest basketball program. Time to play the waiting game.