The Deacs officially have a 2016 big man! After the excellent news broke around midday today that 4* British C Samuel Japhet-Mathias was committing to Wake Forest just a week after taking his official visit, a strong, collective sigh of relief was let out all across Winston-Salem as Danny Manning had finally closed the deal on a highly touted big man prospect. After missing out on long-time target Rodney Miller and anxiety over the Deacs’ chances to land Harry Giles amping up exponentially as his inevitable decision looms closer, the tension was finally cut (or at least significantly eased) on word of the City of London Academy Center’s announcement. For all coverage on his commitment and what type of player Danny Manning is getting in SJM, we have you covered with links here and here. However, this article isn’t about Japhet-Mathias, it is about where does the 2016 class go from here and who is lined up to join him, Washington, Mitchell, and Childress on National Signing Day just 5 months from now. Here’s a breakdown of who Wake Forest is still targeting and updates on their recruitment as we head into the fall months.
Fernando wasn’t on Wake Forest fans’ radars until mid-August when it was reported that Danny Manning was interested in the Montverde Academy product following a few strong performances for E1T1 in the summer circuit. He showed glimpses of dominance in the low-post and excellent potential, and to be honest, that is exactly what Fernando is as a recruit in a nutshell: Excellent potential. You could search every high school gym in the country day and night for the next year and find only a handful of big man that might be more naturally athletic than the PF from MVA. However, with every "big upside" recruit, there is always the underlying truth that development is key once they step on campus, and the burden of a big project might be keeping several high-major programs away from Fernando for now as he prepares for his senior season. There were rumors that UNC was interested back in August, but nothing has developed out of them since, and the Tar Heels certainly have a number of higher profile names ahead of him on their big board at the moment. Central Florida seems to have been making Fernando a priority lately and had him on campus for an unofficial visit earlier this month. If the Deacs can’t land Giles, I would be perfectly fine with Manning adopting a project for the 2016 class and taking Fernando given that Japhet-Mathias seems to be a guy who can play right away and Collins and Moore will have a season under their belt. The real key is to see how Danny Manning plays Fernando’s recruitment from here on out. Get him on campus too soon and you might waste your official visit as you keep a scholarship open for HG. However, wait to see what happens with Giles, and Fernando could be off the board and committed elsewhere when you really need him. It will be an interesting story to follow for sure, but until a visit of any kind is scheduled, the staff’s prioritization of him will remain relatively unknown.
Look for Central Florida to complete class with one more...seems to have zeroed in on 16 Montverde big man Bruno Fernando— Corey Evans (@coreyevans_10) September 27, 2015
There’s another Harry still left on the board for Wake Forest and it comes in the form of Australian PF Harry Froling, who at the moment is still planned to take an official visit to Wake Forest when he comes to the States during a break this fall. Froling has been playing for his hometown club the Townsville Crocs since mid-September as a development player, which is providing him valuable experience against professional competition in his final year before heading to the US for college. Along with his pro debut, Froling’s recruitment has picked up dramatically (at least publically) with Boise State, Fresno State, and Miami all sending assistant coaches to Australia for an in-home visit this month. According to FoxsportsAUS.com writer Olgun Uluc, Wake Forest is currently not scheduled to make the multi-thousand mile journey to Australia to meet with Froling in his hometown, though something could be in the works under the surface given how stealthily Danny Manning recruits. Despite the up-tick in suitors over the last couple of weeks, it looks like one of Wake Forest’s main competitors could find itself out of the running soon enough, however. On Tuesday morning SMU was dealt a number of sanctions for violations of NCAA rules, including a postseason ban for 2016, a loss of 9 scholarships over the next 3 years, and a suspension of Head Coach Larry Brown for 30% of this season. Froling’s two sisters currently play for the women’s team at SMU and the school was considered a serious threat to Wake Forest’s chances at landing the Australian PF, but with the recent turmoil and Larry Brown’s job security certainly in question with the University, this news ultimately does bode very well for Wake Forest. I personally don’t think there is space for Froling and Giles in the 2016 class, but his performance at the Adidas Nations tournament this summer against top US competition was downright impressive and he would be an extremely valuable addition to the program if he commits to the Deacs. (He is #131 in white in the video below)
2016 PF Harry Froling will have a home visit with Boise State tomorrow. Fresno St will likely be in for a home visit with him on Tuesday— Olgun Uluc (@OlgunUluc) September 27, 2015
The young gun @HarryFroling will be making his debut for the @TsvCrocs. We think some US college teams might have an eye on this one!
— NBL (@NBL) September 23, 2015
The 2016 5* PF will visit NC State this weekend along with former WF target Dennis Smith and a number of other top recruits in the 2016-2017 classes. There was always the slim dream that a potential "SuperClass" with Smith, Giles, and Adebayo could’ve been possible after Wake Forest made all three of their selective top lists in the summer within the span of a couple of weeks. However, after Bam’s close friend Dennis Smith committed to NC State a few weeks ago following a visit from the Wolfpack staff, the 5* PG said "My first call is going to be to Bam Adebayo and get him on board." The dream was a long shot to begin with and it became virtually impossible when Smith decided to choose his childhood favorite school instead of giving Wake Forest an official visit. If the Deacs land a 5* PF in this class, it won’t be Bam Adebayo, and to be quite honest, I would be stunned if he doesn’t officially join Smith at State by the end of the weekend.
Udoka Azubuike will also visit NC State along with Bam Adebayo and Rawle Alkins this weekend, source confirms. @JonRothstein 1st reported— Adam Zagoria (@AdamZagoria) September 29, 2015
Wake Forest sneaked its way onto 5* C Marques Bolden’s final 7 last month after an unexpected unofficial visit to campus by the Texas big man. The main belief around the industry is that he’ll be headed to Duke or KU for his year (maybe 2) of college basketball, but with Javin DeLaurier’s commitment to the Blue Devils just last week and K in hot-pursuit of 5*’s Giles and Wenyen Gabriel, I think he will certainly evaluate all his options carefully before deciding on a school. Of course, Wake Forest is a longshot in this race as it is with every 5* that it doesn’t have a personal or nearby connection to, but his interest in Duke has a direct effect on the WF program and thus an update on his recruitment is necessary. Two weeks ago Bolden took an official visit to Duke and all reports are that it went very well, which only made his “rescheduling” of a KU visit this past weekend all the more suspicious. After all, Wake Forest fans have seen this story play out right before their eyes before when Eli Wright “rescheduled” his official visit in early August only to commit to Mississippi State before ever stepping in Winston-Salem. Some expected Bolden to commit to the Blue Devils over the weekend, but 4* PF Javin DeLaurier’s announcement might have stalled him in his tracks as he ponders whether he wants to seriously compete for playing time if his dream is to be a one-and-done. I don’t think Bolden will end up suiting for the Deacs next season, but the addition of DeLaurier and a potential commitment from Wenyen Gabriel soon might mean they don’t have to go up against him either.
Hypothetically, Duke could add Harry Giles, Wenyen Gabriel & Marques Bolden to Tatum, Jackson & DeLaurier. That would be ridiculous.— Evan Daniels (@EvanDaniels) September 27, 2015
And then there’s a guy you may have heard about: Harry Giles. I’ll keep this update brief as many of you don’t need a profile breakdown or any highlights to convince you of his skill. If you’re like me, the number of highlights of the 5* Winston-Salem product you watch is correlated with an unprecedented level of hope that we are closer than ever before to being back to where we belong as a program. It is also correlated with a sense of worry that the WF hat will remain solemnly on the table as the inevitable hat-picking ceremony concludes, with the city’s desperate hopes drifting back down to the turf like a birthday balloon popped out of the sky. Giles did post in his most recent blog post that his Wake Forest visit went "great" and there were rumors he joined good friend and 2016 commit Brandon Childress for a brief time on his official visit this weekend as well, which is excellent news considering he was originally scheduled to visit UNC instead. Even with specks of good news, these next few months are going to be painfully quiet for Deacon fans. Giles has proven time and time again that he will play this process close to the chest and Danny Manning and the staff will surely do the same as they have since Day 1. For every small bit of news there will be under-reactions and overreactions, but that’s as to be expected when 5 years of anticipation closes in on its conclusion with vague evidence as to what the ultimate answer will be. It all comes down to if Harry wants to join a team full of stars for a coaching legend or be a legend for a program and the star of his city, but until we get a better indication of his path preference we’ll be left patiently waiting for an answer. One thing is for sure though, whether we land him or not, Danny Manning and the staff’s recruitment of the #1 player in the country against some of the greatest coaches of all-time has been heroic. We’re just all hoping their heroic effort ends up with a historic victory at the end of the day. Keep calm, stay positive, and carry on. The Deacs will be back to where they belong soon enough.
For more frequent and daily Wake Forest recruiting news, follow me on Twitter @DeacFan3.