Entering his 3rd season as a Deac, Mitchell Wilbekin brings some much needed experience to a younger team. As a sophomore, Wilbekin started 30 games, averaging 7.3 points, 2.0 rebounds, and 1.4 assists in 28.2 minutes per game. He is a reliable guard that values the basketball and helps the offense flow even when not scoring himself.
Strengths: Wilbekin’s greatest strength is that he takes care of the basketball. For a guard that played almost 30 minutes a game and handled the ball quite a bit, he averaged just 0.6 turnovers per game. That is an impressively low average. His turnover percentage (estimated turnovers per 100 possessions) was the lowest on the team among scholarship players at just 7.1%. He is a guy Manning can trust to value each possession and not be careless with the basketball. Aside from not turning the ball over, Wilbekin is a solid player on the offensive side of the ball. Though he averaged just 7.3 points per game, his offensive rating was the second highest on the team last season at 111.0. This means that while Wilbekin is not scoring himself, he is helping the team score by effectively running Manning’s offense. He is also a good shooter, shooting 34% from the 3-point line with an eFG of 46%, and 85% from the free throw line.
Weaknesses: Wilbekin’s weaknesses show up on the defensive end. His defensive rating was the worst of the scholarship players, with a defensive rating of 115.9 (higher is worse). This is a result of his on ball defense not being stellar last year, which left opponents wide open for dunks and 3s when other Deacs came to play help defense.
Another issue is that Wilbekin is a little undersized at the shooting guard position. Taller shooting guards in the ACC can just shoot over him and there isn’t much he can do to contest their shots.
While more a result of play style and not a real weakness, Wilbekin shot just 1.3 free throws per game last season. This is likely due to the fact that 71% of his shots were from the 3pt line. As the team’s best free throw shooter, it would be beneficial if he could find away to get the stripe more often.
How he fits: Wilbekin started at shooting guard in Wake Forest’s exhibition game this season, and played 15 minutes at that position. As a junior, he certainly knows Manning’s system better than any of the freshmen, and will be great asset in helping the younger guards learn how to play in it. I would suspect that he will start at shooting guard for a majority of, if not the whole year. That being said, his minutes per game may diminish later in the season as Keyshawn Woods gets more playing time.
What are you expecting from Wilbekin this season?