Who will prove to be the best option at the 5 in 2017?
This poll is closed
Dinos Mitoglou (small ball!!!)
One of the bigger questions that has been popping up on various Wake Forest Demon Deacons mediums is who will become THE guy at the center position for the Deacs next year on the basketball court.
There are several different options at this point, and even without knowing who will be the final scholarship player (or even if we will land a graduate transfer), there are a few routes that Coach Manning and the staff can take.
The staff has done a great job of stockpiling big bodies to rotate in at the five next year. Although the original plan was to have another year of John Collins, I still believe the team is in good shape in the front court.
Assuming Dinos Mitoglou plays the four, and doesn’t slide to the 5 to play small-ball too start the year (which very well could happen), there are three players on the roster who could feasibly be the starting center come fall: junior Doral Moore, sophomore Sam Japhet-Mathias, and freshman Olivier Sarr.
Without knowing who Wake may land at the 3-4 spot in the grad transfer market, it’s impossible to say for sure that DInos will remain at the stretch 4 instead of being a banger inside for his senior year.
Regardless, the Deacs will need good minutes out of these three to keep the front court fresh and efficient.
While Sarr is highly regarded on an international level, I tend to think that his contributions during his first year at Wake Forest will be minimal. He is a very good shot blocker and rebounder, but has a rail thin body, and strength coach Ryan Horn will no doubt spend a lot of time with him to get him bulked up. His offensive game could also use a year of refining.
I could see Sarr playing a solid 5-10 minutes a game to be a rim-protector in certain situations, but doubt he will be the primary guy at the five during his freshman year.
This leaves Moore and SJM. It appeared that SJM surpassed Moore in the “depth-chart” towards the latter part of the year, but there is an entire off-season for both to continue to develop.
Moore went into a sophomore slump as the year progressed and although he had good spurts of play, his foul trouble, and slow-developing ability to play solid pick-and-roll defense and setting screens on the offensive end, caused him to be a liability at times on both sides of the ball.
On the other hand, SJM showed decent streaks of play as well, but didn’t play a whole lot with Collins and Mitoglou eating up a majority of the minutes at the 4-5.
He has a good understanding of the game, but is very raw across the board. I believe he has more natural talent and understanding of basketball than Moore does, but he has to get in shape to be able to play 15-20 minutes without fouling or getting fatigued.
I think Mitoglou will eat up a lot more minutes at the 5 than a lot of people think, as Coach Manning has shown a proclivity to playing small ball (which is somewhat strange given his background as a player, and his outstanding development of Collins).
Odds are that one of the three will develop into an ACC quality big man, but who of the three is the most likely to be that guy next year?
Personally I think it’s SJM, and I believe he will have a bigger impact than Moore as the season goes on.
While it is pretty clear that nobody will make the quantum leap that Collins made at Wake, with the talent in the backcourt and addition of athletic wing Chaundee Brown, the center position doesn’t need to be an efficient scoring machine, but more of a defensive-minded, tough interior rebounder.
This will help anchor the defense and give the guards a level of protection behind them should they get beat off the dribble (which happened a lot last year). The pick-and-roll defense needs to be vastly improved, and ultimately I think the big man who can prove his worth defensively without fouling, combined with a decent interior game on the offensive end will get the minutes.
The minutes will be spread out among Mitoglou (when he isn’t at the four), and a rotating set early on to figure out who is most capable of handling it, but I think SJM will be a stalwart at the 5 by the time we get into conference play.