With the 2015-16 season in the books and the 2016 recruiting class closed as well, it’s time to look at who Danny Manning could be bringing in next season to fill the vacant scholarships left by Cornelius Hudson and Rondale Watson. Last week, Rob wrote an article about Presbyterian wing Desean Murray, who the staff reportedly made contact with after he announced his intent to transfer.
However, Murray is currently only a sophomore, meaning he would have to redshirt next season and be ineligible to play until 2017-2018. Given the pressure on Manning to produce a winning team next winter, I would assume he would prefer a graduate transfer who could contribute right away as well as open up a scholarship for the 2017 class. A name popped up yesterday on Twitter that piqued my interest for this exact spot: Florida A&M wing Malcolm Bernard. Let’s take a look at why Danny Manning should target the young man from Florida.
It is official. FAMU 's Malcolm Bernard has been granted his release from the school. Plans on picking a new school soon. @WCTV— Asher Wildman (@AsherWildMan6) March 14, 2016
First off, Bernard had an absolutely sensational year down at Florida A&M this past season. After spending his first two seasons at Charleston Southern and averaging just 3.4 PPG in 2013-14, he transferred back to his home state of Florida and used his redshirt year to develop his game. And develop his exactly what he did.
Bernard’s statistics absolutely skyrocketed in 2015-16 much like Tyler Cavenaugh's this past year at GW. He doubled his rebound production from 3.5 RPG to 7.1 RPG after the transfer. He more than tripled his assist totals and averaged 4.3 APG, which was good for first on the team. Oh, and he also went on to average 14.4 PPG this year, 11.0 MORE points than he did in his final season at Charleston Southern. Simply put, the guy blew up, and he became the centerpiece of a Florida A&M program that is currently in the middle of a rebuilding process of its own.
Grad transfer addition: Florida A&M's Malcolm Bernard told ESPN he has gotten his release. 14.4 ppg, 7.1 rpg, 4.3 apg.— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) March 14, 2016
That all sounds nice, but what are the potential drawbacks of his game? Well for one, he doesn’t necessarily solve the 3PT % issue that plagued the Wake Forest basketball team all year. On 2.0 three point attempts per game, he hit just 21% of them, which made up for about 25% of all his misses on the year. He also doesn’t necessarily solve the free throw shooting problem either, coming in at a flat 66% on the season, which is the same exact number the WF team finished the year on.
Finally, what are Wake’s chances at realistically landing Bernard if they are interested? Given the fact that he is a versatile grad transfer who excels at scoring in the paint, rebounding, and passing, the line of suitors will undoubtedly be long. He has made it clear in a recent article that he wants to use his final year of eligibility at a program that is able win games and make the NCAA tournament. That desire is likely especially strong considering in his last two seasons at FAMU the Rattlers have gone a combined 10-48.
However, if the staff can get Bernard to buy into the rebuilding process here at Wake and he is intrigued by the potential to start at an ACC school, perhaps Danny Manning might be able to persuade him to take a visit to Winston-Salem this spring. As of right now, it is far too early to tell if Bernard is a legitimate option for an open scholarship spot, but it is certainly an interesting story to follow.
For more frequent and daily Wake Forest recruiting news, follow me on Twitter @DeacFan3.