After one of the slowest weekends of the summer for Wake Forest recruiting, Monday was no stranger to breaking news for the Demon Deacons. From making the final list for a 4* LB to losing two 2016 big men targets on the same day, find out everything you need to know below in the latest BSD Recruit Report.
2016 Football Recruiting Updates
Pair of 3* targets soon to be Deacs?
Wake Forest is trending on Crystal Ball for two talented 3* prospects who have yet to make their college decision: WR Larry Collins and OT Tyler Watson. Here’s some info on both recruits and where Wake stands with them.
Wake Forest made Collins’ final five on July 30th along with UNC, Tennessee, South Carolina, and Georgia. He is a top 500 player in the nation according to 247sports and a high-3* recruit according to most scouting services. He also mentioned in an interview with scout.com that Wake Forest is recruiting him the hardest and when asked what he liked about the school he said "I like the coaches, academics, and smaller environment." He then went on to say the main factors for his decision are "academics and early playing time." If those are his two priorities, you’d have a hard time convincing me Wake Forest isn’t the best positioned of the five to give him what he’s looking for. I’d call the Deacs leaders for Collins at the moment, and considering he is planning on making his decision by the end of the month, it looks like Coach Clawson might have another offensive weapon at his disposal in 2016 if all goes according to plan.
Michael Clark (@MClarkScout) July 30, 2015
Tyler Watson is an interesting recruit mainly because his scouting profiles are quite limited despite a plethora of offers. 247sports and Rivals have him as unranked heading into his senior season, yet the Georgia lineman has 20+ offers which would make him one of the most highly sought after recruits in the 2016 class if he commits to WF. He also picked up ALL of those offers since April 29th, making it safe to say he’s one of the biggest risers in the entire country this summer. His best offers other than Wake are ECU, UCF, UCONN, and Navy, but I would expect more P5’s to come if he decides to wait until after his senior season to make his college decision. Vanderbilt is reportedly interested and he attended a camp there back in June as well. As you probably know, Wake Forest and Vandy have been in their fair share of recruiting battles the last couple of years; the most recent one ending with the 'Dores as the bridesmaid and WF landing priority S target Traveon Redd. The two Crystal Ball picks for Watson are encouraging, but he may wait to see what other offers flood his mailbox before announcing given his recent increase in attention.
WF Makes Final List for 4* Prospect
Wake Forest made the final 5 of talented 4* LB Elysee Mbem-Bosse and is in very good company on the list. Rob already broke down the news on the site Sunday night so I will link that article here and refrain from sounding redundant in my excitement. Mbem-Bosse is just the latest top 400 recruit to have the Deacs on his final list since Coach Clawson arrived two winters ago. It’s a testament to his recruiting ability that a program like Wake Forest, coming off one of its worst seasons in recent memory, is legitimately competing with big-time SEC programs for prized 4* prospects. Mbem-Bosse is not the first 4* to heavily consider Wake and he won’t be the last. The real question is will he be the first to end up choosing the Black and Gold in the Clawson era or will we all have to wait until 2017 to see that accomplished.
2016 Basketball Recruiting Updates
Rodney Miller Commits to Miami. What now?
Probably the most surprising news of the month so far came when 4* C target Rodney Miller committed to Miami Monday afternoon after months of keeping the public in the dark with his recruitment. Nobody seemed to have a feel for where Miller was in his process in large part due to his lack of participation in AAU tournaments all summer long when targets have a chance to talk to scouting sites on a regular basis. He labeled Wake Forest as his leader back in April and took an unofficial visit to campus in March, but after that everything was incredibly quiet in terms of the relationship between the two sides. Miller then took an official visit to Miami in May and although an official visit to Wake Forest might have been in the works in the coming weeks, Danny Manning ultimately didn’t have the chance to tour him around campus one more time in the hopes of sealing the deal. But enough of all the facts; the real question is "Where do we go from here?"
Well looking at the big board with Miller now off it, the initial reaction might be a full dose of alarm and panic. After all, the Oak Hill product was the only C on my 2016 recruiting board last week, and with Wake still as underdogs for DeLaurier, Adebayo, and Giles at the moment, we can’t really afford to lose out on big men targets we are serious contenders for. At first glance, Miller falls into that category, but at the same time he was far from a "can’t miss" prospect. He hasn’t been able to affirm his 4* ranking in close to a year due to an injury during his junior season at Oak Hill and an absence from the AAU circuit this summer. And even if he committed to the Deacs, he was always going to be a 1-2 year project in the best-case scenario. The news is certainly a blow, but not a fatal one at all, especially when you consider some of the other PF/C options still on the board:
Harry Froling announced on Sunday that he will be cutting his list soon and I would suspect the Deacs will be one of the schools he names when that announcement occurs. We will have some ACC competition for him as Rick Pitino is also very high on the Australian big man, but as long as Wake can land one of his official visits the Deacs should be contenders until the end.
Of course, a young man named Harry Giles is still on the board and seriously considering staying in Winston-Salem to play his college ball. I’ve written more words on Harry on this site than is probably necessary or healthy, so I’ll spare everyone the extra notes in this piece.
Lastly, there’s a new addition to the board in the form of Angolan C Bruno Fernando. Fernando was linked to the Deacs in the July live period when the staff reportedly watched a few of his games for E1T1 and he earned some nice praise from scouts who were getting to see him for the first time. He plays his high school ball at Montverde Academy, which is the same school Doral Moore suited up for and a program that is a consensus top 10 team in the country year-in, year-out. He has a highlight video too and let me look at it real qui--OH MY WORD
ALL ABOARD THE BRUNO HYPE TRAIN!
Forget the fact that 50% of the video is layup-line dunks and free throws, Fernando looks like an absolute athletic freak that Manning could mold into a monster down low if he got the opportunity to coach him. Simply based on his size and length he’ll be a strong defensive post presence from day 1 wherever he goes, and though he might not be totally polished on the offensive end yet, that’s where the best big-men coach in college basketball can help. He was labeled by Scout.com as one of the breakout performers of the first July live period and UNC has reportedly been showing interest in recent weeks as well. In terms of rankings, ESPN has him as a 4*, Scout and Rivals have him as a 3*, and 247sports doesn’t have him in the database. Considering he came onto the scene late in his high school career, I think he could be an absolute steal based on potential alone. I’ll put it this way: If Fernando had been playing on the AAU circuit for 3 years already, he’d have several HM offers and be a consensus 4* recruit. It’s time we land a guy like that in this class.
Dennis Smith Tears ACL, Out 6-9 Months
Some things in life just aren't fair. 5* PG prospect Dennis Smith was excelling at the 2015 Adidas Nations tournament last week when he suffered a devastating injury to his knee that will prevent him from playing his senior season at Trinity Christian this winter. The surgery over the weekend at Duke University was successful and the doctors expect Dennis to make a full recovery, but this is certainly a tough pill to swallow for the Smith family and all who enjoyed watching him play. Fortunately, it doesn't seem like the injury is slowing down his recruitment at all, as Duke, UNC, NCSU, and WF all affirmed to him that nothing has changed and his scholarship is still very much on the table. Don't forget that Harry Giles tore his ACL as well his Sophomore year and roared back to become the consensus #1 player in the country within 18 months. Danny Manning also knows a thing or two about knee injuries as he suffered multiple throughout his playing career and still managed to put together a long, successful NBA career. I don't think the injury affects Smith's recruitment in any significant way as the schools he was most considering are still very interested in the blue chip NC prospect according to ESPN (Insider). We here at BSD wish Dennis nothing but the best and are looking forward to seeing him back on the court as soon as possible.
Dennis Smith injury is a non-story in regards to his recruitment. Nothing changes. http://t.co/F8Yf5SrPX6— Jerry Meyer (@jerrymeyer247) August 10, 2015
Eddie Ekiyor Arrested in Ottawa
Eddie Ekiyor is likely no longer a target for Wake Forest basketball. The talented 4* Canadian PF that the Deacs have been very involved with over the course of the last year was arrested on Saturday after a hit and run involving an off-duty Ottawa police officer. Charges are pending for Ekiyor who was released on bail Monday morning. To be frank, I can’t imagine a scenario where Danny Manning keeps Ekiyor on his board after an incident like this. Manning is a no-nonsense head coach and this type of action is far over the line of what I would imagine he is willing to tolerate. Don’t expect to hear Wake Forest mentioned with Ekiyor again for the rest of the 2016 recruiting cycle. Instead, expect Manning to put out a couple more offers to PF prospects in the coming weeks as a backup option to Froling, Giles, and Fernando. Donovan Mitchell, Mike Layssard, and Iran Bennett (Already offered) are names to keep an eye on in August and September.
New Zealand PF Target Picks the Sooners
2016 PF target Matthew Freeman committed to Oklahoma at the end of last week to become the 3rd member of the Sooners’ 2016 class. Wake Forest was one of 7 other schools Scout.com listed were heavily interested in the New Zealand big man, but its unclear how much of a chance the Deacs actually had at him. It’s also important to note that Freeman never was actually offered by the staff, and I think his Team LivOn teammate Harry Froling was always a higher priority as the "Stretch 4 prospect" for this class. And for those scoring at home, Freeman becomes WF target #2 to join the Sooners this summer after Kam McGusty did so a few weeks ago as well.
Matt Freeman, a native of New Zealand, has verbally committed to Oklahoma, he tells Scout. 6-8 forward that can stretch the floor.— Evan Daniels (@EvanDaniels) August 6, 2015
2016 SF from Texas to Visit this Weekend
After DeRiante Jenkins released his latest list and the Deacs were left unnamed, there were questions if Wake was in the market for another SF target for this class. Those questions were answered over the weekend when it was announced 2016 3* prospect Curtis Hollis would visit campus on August 16th with his Texas Pro Skills teammate EJ Elliott, a 2017 recruit. Hollis is a 6’5 Small Forward from Arlington, Texas who ranks in the mid 100’s for most scouting sites. He has recent interest from Texas, Texas Tech, and Wake Forest, but his offer sheet at the moment is lacking any HM programs which is concerning. Considering Hollis is the same size as newly committed Richard Washington and Danny Manning has two 4* guard/wing targets taking official visits in the next few weeks, Hollis seems like a plan C or plan D at the moment in the overall recruiting strategy. His game is different from Washington’s, but considering the class still has yet to land a big man and is the favorite for two 4* guards as well, this visit likely won’t turn into anything in the long run for Hollis. Whether it establishes Wake in a great position for Elliott’s recruitment is a whole other story we’ll begin to sense likely around New Years.
Updated 2016 Big Board
As always, here’s my updated 2016 Basketball Recruiting big board for this week. Names removed from last week: Wenyen Gabriel, Mario Kegler, and DeRiante Jenkins. Players in red are targets that either committed elsewhere or one of the two sides have backed out of the recruitment. Players in blue are new additions to the board this week. Bolded players are top targets for the program based on need or by recent interviews. The rank is from the 247sports composite list that takes into account multiple scouting sites' overall rankings.
How Big Can the 2016 Class Really Be?
The last topic I want to address is the scholarship situation. Wake coming into the year had four open slots for the 2016 class as what’s left of the Spectacular 7 close out their college careers. Regardless if Dinos goes back to Europe to play professionally after this year or not, I think this class ends up being 5 recruits at the very least. Last week I would’ve assumed that the three remaining scholarships would’ve been split up in this fashion: One PF, one C (Likely Miller), and then one for another wing (Likely Wright or McEwen). However, McEwen has officially moved his visit up to August 28th now from the previously scheduled September date, which makes me think that the staff might want to seal the deal with the talented Canadian PG before he blows up with offers. McEwen had a very strong Adidas Nations tournament last weekend and was third in PPG and first in SPG in the entire showcase. Despite his excellent play, Wake and Utah State remain the two leaders at the moment for his services and I’m sure Danny Manning realizes he has to take advantage of the favorable situation now before increased competition inevitably arrives. I can see this class having spots for Wright and McEwen (The staff might even pitch to the two of them the possibility of playing with one another), and then making room for a big through attrition or other means later on in the fall. I think it’s safe to assume that most programs can expect at least 1 transfer at the end of each season simply based on how college basketball is nowadays. That being said, going over the limit initially and taking 5 doesn’t seem like too much of a stretch. But could this class get to 6 without another player deciding to transfer as well? Here’s where it gets interesting. Steve Alford at UCLA is reportedly willing to take his son, Senior guard Bryce Alford, off scholarship and label him as a walk-on in order to create room for newly decommitted 5* big man TJ Leaf. Might I remind you that Wake Forest has a father-son pairing in its program as well with 2016 PG commit Brandon Childress and Assistant Coach Randolph Childress. While the Childresses would have to pay out of pocket for Brandon if he was a walk-on, Wake offers very favorable tuition to students who are sons/daughters of faculty members, and the overall expense would be a fraction of the annual tuition for non-scholarship students (According to the WF HR site, 94% would be covered by the University due to the fact that Randolph was hired prior to 2014). I’m not saying this strategy is suggested or even being considered by the staff, but if it gets to the point where the staff desperately needs another scholarship available (Ex. One of the two 2015 bigs gets seriously injured or Dennis Smith chooses the Deacs at the last minute) this unorthodox plan could be an option.
For more frequent and daily Wake Forest recruiting news, be sure to follow me on Twitter @DeacFan3.