Assuming the Wake Forest basketball roster stays the same there is a pretty big question as to how head coach Danny Manning and the staff will handle minutes at the power forward position.
As we know, Manning is somewhat trending towards positionless basketball, which, with the departure of Dinos Mitoglou to Greece, could come a year earlier than expected. This may not be the ideal situation, but it pretty much forces the hand of the staff.
Hopefully the staff lands either Whitman or Thompson and renders this hypothetical null and void.
Currently there are 6 realistic candidates to take the majority of the minutes at the “power forward” spot, so let’s take a closer look at how the staff may choose to allocate those minutes.
The options are (in no particular order):
- Richard Washington (Sophomore, 6-6, 180)
- Donovan Mitchell (Sophomore, 6-8, 210)
- Chaundee Brown (Freshman, 6-5, 210)
- Melo Eggleston (Freshman, 6-8, 190)
- Olivier Sarr (Freshman, 6-11, 210)
- Sunday Okeke (Freshman walk-on, 6-8, 230)
As you can tell from the parentheses above, there are no upperclassmen in these options, and the most experienced player who could start has played 17 total minutes (Richard Washington). In fact, the 6 players above have combined for a total of 24 minutes of college basketball in total.
One of them has to start barring a bizarre manipulation of the lineup, so let’s see what the most likely situation is in my opinion.
I personally believe that, like the center position, it will be a spot handled by a few of these guys. To focus on the starting lineup for the moment, if the season began right now I would expect a starting lineup of:
PG- Bryant Crawford (6-3, 200)
SG - Keyshawn Woods (6-3, 205)
SF- Chaundee Brown (6-5, 210)
PF- Donovan Mitchell (6-8, 210)
C- Doral Moore (7-,1 265)
This provides roughly a standard height distribution at each of the positions and would allow Wake Forest to matchup normally against most opponents. I think Mitchell will start to begin with simply because he has a year under his belt and Manning will want Eggleston to come off the bench to get his legs under him a bit.
There have been some whispers that Eggleston has impressed a bit amongst the players, but I don’t expect him to start to begin the season, particularly taking into account how Manning eases freshmen into their roles.
Everything I have heard about Brown indicates that he will start at the 3 from day one and is already one of the best players on the team.
In an ideal world, Mitchell or Eggleston will prove that they can handle the four and will be able to account for most of the 40 minutes.
Let’s assume for a second that one or both aren’t getting the job done, where does that leave the staff? One option is go super small and shift everybody up a position:
PG- Bryant Crawford (6-3, 200) or Brandon Childress (6-0, 190)
SG - Brandon Childress (6-0, 190) or Mitchell Wilbekin (6-2, 175)
SF- Keyshawn Woods (6-3, 205)
PF- Chaundee Brown (6-5, 210)
C- Doral Moore (7-,1 265)
There is no doubt that this would cause Wake to be a bit undersized at the 3 and 4, especially on the defensive end. Rebounding would be a nightmare, and unless Moore has taken huge steps, or Brown crashes the boards with authority, I don’t see how this could be run in ACC play with sustained success.
I do think that situationally this lineup could be beneficial for Wake Forest. It causes the opposing defense to have to match up with the speed on the court, and I don’t think most teams would want its standard four guarding Brown on the wings.
It is up to the staff to figure out the correct time to implement this strategy and take advantage of opposing defenses.
Another possibility would be to simply slide freshman Olivier Sarr into the power forward spot for spurts alongside either Moore or Samuel Japhet-Mathias.
This would put Sarr into a true stretch four role, but I don’t know if the staff wants to ask that of him this year, or if he is ready for that.
Richard Washington looks to me to be more of a true SF, and if the reports from last year are accurate, his strengths are three-point shooting and defense. I’m unsure of how he matches up in the post defensively, but based on watching him pre-game some, he definitely can move well laterally and has the ability to defend the three.
Therefore I think he will eat more backup minutes at the 3 than shifting up to the 4 to bang inside.
Based on what I know right now, I would guesstimate the power forward minutes breakdown to look something like this:
Donovan Mitchell - 15 minutes
Melo Eggleston - 15 minutes
Chaundee Brown - 6 minutes
Olivier Sarr/Richard Washington/Sunday Okeke - 4 minutes
No matter what the staff chooses to do, unless if somebody comes in and surprises, the power forward position will be a committee. Hopefully somebody begins to stick out as the year goes on and grabs the position by the horns, but the out-of-conference schedule should be a lot of experimentation to figure out the best lineups.
I don’t think the loss of Mitoglou will impact the OOC record too much, as even the small lineup with Brown at the 4 should be fine. ACC play is a completely different story though, as I do not personally believe Wake Forest can be successful if Brown is going to play the majority of the minutes at the 4.
Here’s hoping Mitchell or Eggleston can step up and become the guy at the four that we need them to be.