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Wake Forest Basketball Player Profile: Sam Japhet-Mathias

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A look at the first-year big man from London

Wake Forest v Duke Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

Danny Manning continued to add size to the Deacon frontcourt last year by securing a commitment from Sam Japhet-Mathias, who boasted offers from schools like Connecticut, Georgetown, and Oregon. The freshman center is listed by Wake at 6’11” and 280 lbs., making him one of four players (and three underclassmen) on the roster who are at or above 6’10”.

SJM hails from London, but played one year of high school ball in the US at Vermont Academy. As part of the 2017 class, SJM was a consensus 4 star recruit (a top 100 player, and top 10-20 center) across recruiting services. However, Sam reclassified to 2016, which led in his rankings being lowered or entirely removed by some services. He remained a 4 star, top 100 player on 247’s final rankings.

SJM’s strengths are his size and his touch around the basket. He’s one of those guys who seems to have a soft touch and an innate sense of how to get the ball in the basket down low using either hand. His biggest weakness seems to be conditioning, but based on some of the changes we’ve seen over the past couple of off-seasons I’m not too concerned with our staff’s ability to manage that.

You can see some highlights below. The level of competition leaves something to be desired, but you can still get a glimpse at SJM’s skills and touch in the low post:

SJM has size and natural ability, but will need to get in better shape and continue to hone his skills. Fortunately, he’s got the perfect coach for his development in Danny Manning. As it stands, I wouldn’t expect we’ll see heavy minutes out of SJM this year. I think it’s fair to make a general comparison to Doral Moore’s freshman year. Like SJM, Doral was a promising big man with huge upside who needed some further development and improved conditioning. Moore’s had an extra year in the program, so I’d expect we will be seeing a bit more of him while SJM develops. Unless SJM makes dramatic progress, I’d expect him to be seeing mostly spot minutes, with the potential for greater opportunities in certain games if the other big guys get into foul trouble. Regardless, I’m excited to see what the next few years hold in store for him.