If you've been following Wake Forest recruiting, you know Danny Manning seems to be a man on a mission right now. After locking down the class's first commit back in May, he's been prioritizing several 4* targets this summer that are quite interested in the Demon Deacon program. Thankfully, we have a fairly clear picture now after the July Evaluation periods of who else is at the top of the staff's big board for the 2018 class.
There's no need to sugarcoat it; the 2018 basketball recruiting class has the potential to be the most important for this program in a long time. Coming off a trip to the NCAA tournament and the program's first NBA Draft Pick since 2010, there's no denying that Wake Forest has plenty of positive momentum at the moment. Danny Manning has instilled a sense excitement around the Joel Coliseum that was absent for far too long in the early years of the 2010s. Despite the on-court successes and progressive steps, the opportunity to make one big leap forward back into national relevancy is up for grabs as Manning enters his 4th season at the helm. That opportunity is available right now, and it comes in the form of the final stages of the 2018 recruiting cycle.
The staff already has one stud locked into the class, and that's 6'5 CG Sharone Wright Jr out of South Carolina. The staff prioritized him and his high-ceiling in the summer of 2016, and their hard work paid off when Wright Jr announced his verbal commitment to the Deacs on social media back in May. Sharone is a great starting piece for the class, but with likely 3 more open scholarships left for 2018, there's still some recruiting that needs to be done.
If I told you the next 3 commits could help create the best recruiting class in Wake Forest basketball history, would you believe me? You should. Let me hypothetically introduce you to the four recruits that could make Wake Forest basketball a Top 20 program over night. Sharone Wright Jr, Jaylen Hoard, Isaiah Mucius, and Mike Devoe, step right up.
I've already talked about Wright Jr, the son of Clemson legend and Top 10 pick Sharone Wright, as a member of the class. He's a tall Combo Guard who may grow up to 6'7 or 6'8 and be one of the most versatile guards in the country once he reaches Winston-Salem. ESPN has him as a 4* and a top 20 SG in the nation and he picked Wake Forest over Memphis, South Carolina, Clemson, VCU, Florida State and more. He's a great talent with a high ceiling and will certainly have the ability to compete for playing time early in his career.
Next is Jaylen Hoard, A 6'8 forward who put up huge numbers on the AAU circuit this summer for Team CP3 and is close friends with 2017 commit Olivier Sarr. Hoard is a consensus Top 50 recruit, and Scout has him comfortably as a 5* ranked #17 in the entire 2018 class. To say Hoard would be a huge pickup for the staff would be an understatement given his performances on the Nike EYBL tour this year and how he perfectly fits the need of a versatile forward. Hoard also attends Wesleyan Christian Academy over in High Point, the same school Brandon Childress graduated from in 2016. 247sports currently has 5 Crystal Ball predictions for Hoard to Wake Forest by various members of the industry. Wake is in a great spot for him currently and will hopefully receive some good news in the coming weeks from the high-profile Frenchman.
Isaiah Mucius is another talented prospect you are undoubtedly familiar with at this stage of the recruiting process. Mucius, a 6'8 4* SF from Brewster Academy is an athletic wing that Wake Forest has been interested in for a long time now. He has a strong jump shot and is very capable of taking guys on and finishing at the rim. He had multiple breakout games for PSA Cardinals on the Nike EYBL tour this summer in front of Danny Manning and the staff, and he's a huge priority heading into the fall months. He has an Official Visit scheduled to Wake the weekend of September 15, which is WFU Homecoming and the Bi-Annual President's Ball. If that doesn't hint at how bad the staff wants him I don't know what will. He has the potential to be one of the best players in the ACC in the Black and Gold and would fit perfectly into Danny Manning's fast-paced offense.
Finally, Mike Devoe could round out this class as the next big Point Guard to wear Wake Forest across his chest. Devoe is a crafty 4* lead guard who can score in bunches and also is one of the most talented passers in the class of 2018. He is one of just a few prospects to finish the Nike EYBL season Top 30 in PPG (26th) and APG (12th) all while shooting 42% from 3PT and 81% from the line. The staff has been highly interested in Devoe dating back all the way to last year, and their efforts have led to an Official Visit being scheduled for September 14, the same weekend as Isaiah Mucius.
There's no doubt the staff will be pitching heavily that weekend just how dominant the duo could be at Wake Forest, along with Sharone Wright and potentially Jaylen Hoard as a 4-person class. Noting that he could be the next in line of Muggsy Bogues, Randolph Childress, Chris Paul, Jeff Teague, and Ish Smith at the PG spot isn't a bad thing to mention either I suppose.
All four talented prospects are 4* recruits with the potential to rise even higher in the rankings as their senior seasons progress. Not even factoring in any ranking increases, this four-man class of Wright Jr, Hoard, Mucius, and Devoe would finish on 247sports with a rating of 63.04, which would've been 8th in the 2017 Team Rankings. Across all scouting services, it would be ranked in the Top 15 in the nation and Wake would enter the 2018-19 school year as contenders for an ACC title. That roster could potentially include this Top 10 recruiting class, Bryant Crawford, Chaundee Brown, and five (5!) other players who were rated as a 4* by at least one scouting service coming out of HS. If you want depth, you've got it.
The program would also be loaded with perimeter players who can be slotted at three positions or more comfortably. This idea of positionless basketball with crazy athleticism from 1-5 is where the game of basketball is going, and Wake Forest would have a roster built for causing matchup nightmares and a run-and-gun style. This squad wouldn't just be good, it would be damn fun to watch multiple times a week in front of huge crowds at the Joel. After all, who doesn't want more of this?
Danny Manning is on the verge of building an absolute powerhouse here in Winston-Salem, and these four recruits have the potential to be the catalyst for Wake's ascension to that next level. The staff is ready, the Joel is ready, and the fans are ready. If Hoard, Mucius, and Devoe also feel ready to call Wake home, the Demon Deacons' return to the upper echelon of college basketball will arrive even sooner than expected.
For more Wake Forest recruiting news, you can follow me on Twitter @DeacFan3.