At this point it is likely known by most readers of BSD that sophomore center Samuel Japhet-Mathias was “permanently dismissed from the men’s basketball team for not meeting program expectations” last week by head coach Danny Manning.
The England native was used sparingly this year by Coach Manning, appearing in just one game in ACC play. He played 15 minutes against the Duke Blue Devils in Cameron, scoring 4 points to go with 2 rebound and 4 fouls.
While SJM did not play a lot this season and it appeared that he fell into the Manning doghouse for whatever reason, this does bring up the question of whether the Deacs will be a dhorthanded inside moving into next season.
Right now Wake has two seven footers expected to return next season in Doral Moore and Olivier Sarr, which is a good thing, but it is unclear what Moore’s plans are after this season regarding professional basketball.
I would guess, at this point, that Moore returns for his senior season at Mother So Dear just based on the loaded draft class that features a lot of good big men, but as we saw last season there can be unexpected departures.
With SJM leaving it gets Wake Forest back to 13 scholarships for next season barring any other departures. In the current day and age of college basketball I do not think it is realistic for all 9 current players to return next year, while adding the four freshmen in the 2018 recruiting class.
I am not going to speculate on who may or may not be leaving because I have no inside knowledge, but the staff is still heavily recruiting power forward and top 10 2018 recruit E.J. Montgomery, so they are certainly still looking for additional players for next year.
Wake is apparently one of 4-5 players for Montgomery, joining Duke, UNC, Vandy, and possibly Kentucky. My guess is that he winds up with one of the blue bloods, but the staff has done a good job of keeping Wake on his radar. If the Deacs were to land Montgomery it would assuage a lot of the front court depth concerns moving into next season.
My guess is that if Montgomery is not landed then the staff will look to the grad transfer market for a power forward who can eat some minutes. I think that Donovan Mitchell and Olivier Sarr are capable of holding down the four next season, but that means relying heavily on Moore at the 5 to eat up the majority of the center minutes.
Since the roster next season will feature a lot more positional flexibility with Hoard, Mucius, and Wright, Jr., I think the Deacs could get by with Moore, Sarr, and Mitchell at the 4-5, but I think the staff would prefer to land at least one more body.
If Moore does wind up going pro, or there are any other departures then Wake will absolutely need to bring in somebody else from the front court.
A lot of this also depends on what the staff thinks they can get out of Sunday Okeke. While it is not overly intelligent to rely on a preferred walk-on, if he can provide 5-7 minutes per game at the 4 then it could be enough minutes to roll with the roster that is had.
For now we are in a “wait and see” holding pattern with regards to Montgomery and what occurs at the end of the year, but as things currently stand I personally think Wake is alright moving into next year with the current roster.
Obviously if we are somehow able to land Montgomery I am 100% on that train.
My guess is that the staff does not necessarily feel the way that I do with the front court, even if Moore stays, and will continue to recruit hard and look into the transfer market for another 4-5.