The Wake Forest Basketball program added 6-6 forward Austin Arians this offseason as a graduate transfer from Milwaukee. As a red-shirt junior for the Panthers last season, he started in all 33 games, averaging 11.4 points per game and 3.8 rebounds per game.
Arians is a fantastic shooter from beyond the arc. He has a quick, smooth shot that he can get off with just a small amount of space. Last season he shot 35% from beyond the arc for the Panthers, and made 79 total 3-pointers. That total puts him well ahead of any player for the Deacs, as Crawford led the team with 56 total 3-pointers made during the 2015-2016 season. Going right along with his ability to shoot from the outside is his ability to shoot from the free throw line. Last season he shot a career-high 85% from the charity stripe, though he went to the line just 52 times. 85% ties him with Mitchell Wilbekin, and puts him well above the rest of the Wake Forest roster. For a team that struggled to get the ball to Wilbekin in late game fouling situations, it will be nice to have another guy available on the court that shoots over 80% from the free throw line.
While it’s not necessarily a weakness, Arians may fall in that “tweener” range. At 230 lbs, he may be unable to stay in front of some of the more athletic, slashing small forwards in the ACC. On the flip side, at 6-6, he may not be tall enough to defend in the post. That could put the Deacs in a tough situation on how to play Arians and who to play him with. Arians will also need to increase his rebounding numbers this season. Last season, he averaged under 4 rebounds and had a total rebounding percentage of 7.2%. That percentage would have put him below Cornelius Hudson and right above Rondale Watson in TRB had he played for the Deacs. This is not to say that Arians is a bad rebounder, but rather that the Deacs lost almost 50% of their rebounding from the 2015-2016 season, and they are going to need all the help they can get. From what I have seen of Arians in Nassau, he seems to crash the boards well and upped his average to 5 rpg in those 3 games.
How he fits:
Being a great 3-point shooter, Arians will help space the floor by pulling the defense out away from the paint. This should open up driving lanes and give the post players room to go to work and get some easy baskets. In Nassau, with Dinos Mitoglou injured and not playing, Arians saw a lot of playing time at the power forward position. I suspect that with Dinos back healthy and in the starting lineup, Arians will likely start and play most of his minutes at small forward early in the year, and he may see his playing time with the starters diminish as some of the younger players get more experience throughout the year. As a graduate transfer, probably the biggest thing Arians can do to impact the team is to be a positive, calming, level headed veteran in the locker room that leads by example. That type of leadership is not be underestimated, especially for a young team.
What are you all expecting to see from Arians this season?