With the news that Olivier Sarr signed with Wake Forest today in the first day of the April signing period, the Demon Deacons are officially out of scholarships for the 2017-18 season.
There is of course the very big looming possibility that another one will become available if John Collins stays in the NBA Draft, but that decision could be at least a month away. The NBA Combine is May 9th-14th, and it appears likely at this point that Collins is waiting to collect as much information possible before making his final decision.
As GrumpyDeac wrote last week, there is another option that would open up a scholarship for Wake Forest, and that is if Brandon Childress were to become a walk-on who paid his own way.
Regardless of what actually happens for a spot to open up, there is no doubt that the staff is still out there recruiting graduate transfers for next year, because there will likely be a spot open for the fall one way or another.
If Collins decides to come back to Wake Forest and there is no attrition from the current roster then that is clearly best case scenario and this article is a moot point.
So far we have taken a look at four potential graduate transfers who we believe Danny Manning should take a look at filling a spot if it opens. The articles primarily focused on somebody who was a defensively oriented player and rebounder to log some minutes at the four.
The Deacs currently have four scholarship big men right now in: Dinos Mitoglou, Doral Moore, Sam Japhet-Mathias, and Olivier Sarr. There is also a non-scholarship player in Sunday Okeke, who is 6-8, 230 and will probably help out a lot in practice during his freshman year.
This doesn’t even include Melo Eggleston and Donovan Mitchell, who aren’t necessarily the same type of players as the guys above, but will likely see some time at the 4.
We speculated a little bit on what this would mean last week if/when Sarr committed, but now that he has, it brings up another big question as it pertains to graduate transfer coming into the program next year:
Does the signing of Olivier Sarr change the mentality of the coaching staff as far as who they would want to bring in as a grad transfer should a spot open up?
I think the answer to this question is yes.
My primary thought is that instead of bringing in a grad transfer that would take minutes at the power forward and center positions from the 4-5 guys listed above, the coaching staff may be looking to get a 6’5 - 6’7 wing forward that can score and play at the 3 a reasonable amount.
Assuming for a moment that John Collins does go pro, the two biggest holes that need to be filled for next year are Collins (NBA Draft) and Austin Arians (graduation). While Sarr will almost certainly not replace John Collins in terms of productivity on the offensive end, he is basically his replacement on as far as scholarships are concerned.
This leaves the role that Austin Arians occupied last year as open for this season. Chaundee Brown will hopefully come in a play the lion’s share of the 3 next year, but it is a position that could still benefit immediately from some experience and leadership.
In an ideal world, Rich Washington would be able to give some minutes at the 3, while Mitchell and Eggleston will assist a bit at the 4. Eggleston could even play some at the 3 position if he is far enough along and can handle the defensive duties that the 3 brings with it.
Here is a quickly thrown together minutes distribution chart that could come together if you take Collins out and look at the current roster as we know it:
This chart assumes that Brown, Washington, Mitchell, and Eggleston will be able to contribute 50 minutes a game at the 3-4 positions. Given that we haven’t seen anything yet in college from Brown and Eggleston, and a very limited sample size from Mitchell and Washington, this may be a pretty tough ask.
This doesn’t even consider the fact that Moore, SJM, and Sarr are playing all of the minutes at the 5 instead of sliding Dinos to the 5 for a few minutes of small-ball (which Coach Manning has shown he likes playing).
30 MPG - Crawford, Woods
25 MPG- Brown, Mitoglou
15 MPG- Childress, Moore, Japhet-Mathias
10 MPG- Sarr, Washington, Mitchell, Wilbekin
5 MPG- Eggleston
It’s not perfect, but is a good look at average minutes game in and game out.
Instead of assuming that everybody will be able to contribute the “ideal” amount at the 3, it makes sense to cut that off at the head and make sure there is a player who is reliable to give minutes there.
All in all, this thought exercise demonstrates that there is a need for experienced and proven minutes at the 3. I would say that this need is stronger than a proven guy at the 4-5, of which we have at least 2 guys for those roles.
Out of the four guys we have profiled so far (Mark Alstork, Jack Whitman, Chris Sengfelder, and Mark Donnal), the player that sticks out to me the most is Sengfelder, the transfer out of Fordham.
Take a look at the initial write-up we did on him a few weeks back:
At 6-7, 240 he is definitely a guy that could get some minutes at the 4 next year for Wake Forest, and he seems to fit the mold of grad transfer that we have brought in. He played 80% of the minutes last year for the Rams, producing at 109 offensive rating, and a top 20 turnover rate nationally.
He has already accrued over 1,000 points in his career (1,013), and is a 35% three-point shooter in his career. His 58% (on 114 shots) from 2-pt range ranked 178th nationally, but his free throw rate is lower than I would like for a guy who has his body type, as he only attempted 42 on the year (1.35 FTA per game).
While I projected him as a 4 initially, he has the type of game that could potentially transfer to some minutes at the 3. Coach Manning has already followed him on Twitter, so it’s clear that Sengfelder is on the staff’s radar. He isn’t a 40% shooter in his career like Arians was, but he did shoot 39% his sophomore year before dropping off to 33% last year.
He is a better 2-PT shooter than Arians was last year, and could contribute in a variety of ways.
Whether or not Sengfelder is THE guy that Wake ends up getting to fill a potential final spot on the roster, I do believe that the Sarr signing changes the type of player that Wake Forest needs to look for in a grad transfer.
I would consider the front-court to be finalized for next year, and should a spot open up on the roster, think a wing player in the mold of Austin Arians would be more useful overall for the team makeup.