It is that time of year again where most college basketball teams are looking to fill its final scholarship spots for the 2018-19 season. Wake Forest has been a very active participant under head coach Danny Manning in scouring the graduate transfer market to add one or two key players each year.
At this point it is safe to say that Wake Forest fans have seen the good and the bad side of these additions. Coron Williams and Austin Arians immediately stick out as great late adds, while there have been some misses as well, notably Terrence Thompson and Darius Leonard.
It is always going to be a bit of a gamble when you are looking this late in the cycle to find guys who can step in and compete at the ACC level, and unfortunately for the Deacs there have been a lot of transfers, dismissals, and early entries into professional basketball forcing the hand of the staff the past few years.
This year is certainly no exception to that and is probably the worst year Wake has had in quite some time as far as roster attrition goes. Right now the Deacs have at least two roster spots to fill, and could have as many as four if Bryant Crawford and Doral Moore were both to leave.
Fortunately there have been a fair amount of guys that the staff has reached out to. Here is a quick rundown on the most feasible options, as well as who I would like to land.
A big thanks to Ned Harwood for putting together this list and updating it for me. Some guys he has listed are already off the board because I was delayed in putting this together.
If we are being realistic there are two guys on this list who have a good chance to wind up in the Old Gold and Black next year. They are former Chattanooga shooting guard Nat Dixon and former Boston University combo guard Cheddi Mosely.
There is always a chance that somebody else could pop up, but Dixon is on his official visit to Wake Forest this weekend, while Mosely has narrowed it down to Wake Forest, St. Bonaventure, Rhode Island and Delaware.
Let’s take a look at these two guys:
Nat Dixon 6-4 SG (Chattanooga)
Dixon is 6-4 shooting guard who would likely step in and start at the 2-guard position for the 2018-19 season. We know that head coach Danny Manning likes to run three-guard lineups, so if Crawford comes back then there is a chance that Wake could once again go with a Childress, Crawford, Dixon lineup, but hopefully with the fresmen coming in he has learned his lesson from the small-ball failures of next year.
Interestingly enough, the transfer from Chattanooga who averaged nearly 14 points per game last year for the Mocs, was a football player at Boston College before he decided he would rather play basketball.
Transfer Nat Dixon just returned from Memphis & is scheduled to see Wake Forest next weekend, he says. He's also considering visits to Nevada & Xavier. Dixon averaged 13.8 PPG at Chattanooga.— Evan Daniels (@EvanDaniels) April 9, 2018
Dixon is a pretty highly touted transfer at this point in time, as you can see from the other schools going after him. I’ve heard that the visit to Winston-Salem this weekend went pretty well and the Deacs are in a good place to land Dixon.
He shot nearly 39% from behind the three-point line last year on 157 attempts for the 10-23 Chattanooga team. At 6-4, 180, he played a bit at the 1, 2, and 3 for the Mocs, and I think is a natural fit at the shooting guard position for Wake Forest.
His 106 offensive efficiency was a huge step up from his 98 rating during his first season in Chattanooga, and it is safe to project that he would take another pretty meaningful step as he heads into his final season of collegiate basketball.
Given the guys who are out there seriously considering Wake Forest I believe Dixon is our top priority and would be an awesome get to replace Keyshawn Woods.
Cheddi Mosely - 6-3 CG (Boston University)
The other option for Wake Forest is Boston Terriers combo guard Cheddi Mosely. He is a 6-3 guard who played both guard positions at Boston. There are more questions surrounding Mosely than Dixon, particularly surrounding the status of his health, as a knee injury that kept him out most of last season, playing in just the first two games of 2017-18.
In addition to the injury last season, Mosely also missed a good bit of 2016 due to an “internal matter” with Boston University. There aren’t a lot of details regarding that, but I am sure if Wake wound up taking him on that the situation would be looked at in-depth.
Mosely averaged 13 PPG as a sophomore, demonstrating an ability to get the ball in the basket in a variety of ways. As a freshman he shot 41% on threes on 129 attempts, but that dropped to 32% as a sophomore.
Aside from scoring Mosely doesn’t necessarily bring a lot to the table honestly. He has a mediocre assist and rebounding rate for a guard, and an above average shot usage.
Between Mosely and Dixon I think Dixon is clearly the better player, and unless Mosely is our only available option I’m not sure how good of a fit he is with what Wake Forest is trying to do moving forward.
That being said, N.C. State and Ohio State both expressed initial interest in Mosely, and Wake was considered on of the schools going after him the hardest. Ultimately I think the final four schools indicate what level Mosely should be playing on, and even with the open spots I would prefer those minutes next year go to younger players if we can’t get a guy who we have a strong idea will be a starting shooting guard for us for 2018-19.
While there is very little risk in reaching out to a lot of different types of graduate transfer players given the open scholarship numbers for Wake Forest, I think Nat Dixon is the best fit for the Deacs regardless of what type of team we have heading into next year. If Crawford comes back then Dixon slots in perfectly at the shooting guard position and gives a projected lineup of:
PG- Bryant Crawford
SG -Nat Dixon
SF - Chaundee Brown
PF - Jaylen Hoard
C- Doral Moore
Obviously the Deacs need to hold on to both Crawford and Moore for this to happen, but that starting lineup is one that I would expect to compete for an NCAA Tournament berth. This is a lineup with a lot of length, which should help the defensive efficiency even if little changes scheme-wise.
Mosely doesn’t really strike me as the type of player who should be starting on an ACC team unless it is a last ditch effort to fill out a roster (which many would qualify what Wake is doing right now).
If Dixon winds up going somewhere else I think I would rather just keep the roster at 11, give Sunday Okeke a scholarship to bump that to 12, and roll with what we have. I certainly don’t want to add any more class of 2018 guys that would limit the class size for 2019 and beyond.
One final scenario is the possibility of Wake Forest landing a legitimate transfer who would have to sit out a year before playing for the Deacs. The most obvious and tantalizing player for this would be Sacha Killeya-Jones, a transfer from Kentucky.
As expected, Wake Forest has reached out to UK transfer Sacha Killeya-Jones. Previously recruited him in HS as well. Former 5* prospect with 2 years of eligibility https://t.co/Qy5X8llZiP— WFU Sports Stats (@DeacFan3) April 14, 2018
Head coach Danny Manning was one of the first coaches to offer SKJ when he was a 3-star before he blew up. The Deacs are one of ten schools that SKJ is still considering:
Kentucky transfer Sacha Killeya-Jones has narrowed his options to 10. His list includes:— Gabe (@AllDaySportTalk) April 14, 2018
Arizona State, Clemson, Georgetown, Nevada, NC State, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, Texas, UNC, Wake Forest. pic.twitter.com/cKRyZHFC01
The work that Manning did early on with SKJ could go a very long way in whether or not the Deacs land him. He would sit out next year and then have two more years left to play for Wake.
He would be a heck of an off-season pickup, and although he wouldn’t contribute this season, would make the ‘19 season a bit more promising before we have even landed anybody for that class.
Overall I think Dixon and SKJ are two guys that would help Wake Forest immensely. I am not as sold on Mosely, and think that allocating our resources towards player development or other guys not currently on our radar would be a better option.