For a squad that was 259th in the nation in defensive rebounds while ranking 183rd in the nation in points per contest, it’s safe to say that the Deacons didn’t have the best season last year statistics wise. Their record was also not appealing as they were nine games below .500 at 11-20. On top of that, they lost three of their starting players to the NBA and to another collegiate team.
That’s why the new age of Demon Deacon basketball has arrived. With so many question marks and uncertainties, here’s my prediction of the starting five for next year’s basketball team.
- Brandon Childress
- Chaundee Brown
- Isaiah Mucius
- Jaylen Hoard
- Olivier Sarr
Childress takes on a new role this upcoming season. Having been in a backcourt logjam for the past two seasons, it’s time for him to show why he deserved to be a four-star recruit out of high school.
He has the tools to become the main focal point of the team’s offense. He has the efficiency from deep as he posts a career 36.7 percent from beyond-the-arc. The facet of his game that makes him stand out from the team’s other guards are his handles. With a strong ability to keep the ball under control, Childress has quietly become one of the team’s better shot creator. Whether that’s through size ups or the occasional step back, he has been able to create that separation from his defender that has made him into the offensive player he is today.
Besides scoring, of course, Childress needs to be able to help the team’s offense flow in order to fully embrace his new point guard role; and let me tell you, he already has that aspect of the game on lock. Despite starting in just five games, he managed to lead the team’s second unit and average close to three assists per game. This led to a 21.4 assist percentage in his career at Wake.
Given the extra playing time incoming, there is no doubt that Childress can become one of the team leaders on offense.
As I explained in a recent article, Chaundee Brown is a perfect complementary piece to Childress. His athleticism matches Childress’ ability to find the open man in both the half-court and transition game. His average three-point efficiency (34.2 percent) allows him to find more open shots off of screens with Childress at the helm.
The main asset of Brown’s game is his defense. At 6’6” with a 6’8” wingspan, he creates a clear size advantage among college guards. As a result, he has quickly established himself as one of the team’s best defenders. This defense also helps Childress’ game as he will be the one responsible for guarding the better scorer of the opponent’s backcourt players. This is beneficial as Childress can focus more on helping out the offense, which is a perfect mutual pairing.
Mucius is the team’s biggest wild card in the starting lineup. This is because he is coming into the program as a freshman that possesses all the attributes that you want in a modern small forward. Yet he hasn’t shown the aggressiveness to truly expand his offensive game.
Throughout his high school career, he was able to display that he can do a little bit of everything. He has shot the three well and used his incredible athleticism to score both in the halfcourt and transition.
On the defensive end, he is very intriguing. At 6’8” with a 6’11” wingspan, he has the physical frame of a center in college basketball. However, his athleticism allows him to use that height and create a mismatch at the small forward position. This not only helps on offense as he is able to create efficient post opportunities, but it also allows him to become a more versatile defender. This versatility is key when it comes to switching on the pick and roll. Mucius seems like an ideal candidate who can switch onto players one through four as his height and overall defensive ability allow him to be comfortable to whatever position he’s guarding.
But, I’m afraid that his overall game won’t be as impactful as first thought. The lack of shot creating ability forces him into becoming a one-dimensional shooter at times. That’s why I believe that Mucius will become the team’s swiss army knife on the court. He has the ability to be plugged in anywhere and can use his extreme versatility to help fix a need in any way possible. Whether that’s guarding the team’s best offensive player or to create an even bigger mismatch in the frontcourt, it seems as if the possibilities for head coach Daniel Manning is limitless in terms of using Mucius on the court.
In all, Mucius seems like a team-first forward who won’t light up the box score in points, but will do the little things that help the group overall.
Hoard has been viewed as the best of the incoming freshmen, and I totally agree. The amount of offensive versatility that he possesses at such a young age is truly remarkable.
Offensively, Hoard has it all. The most noticeable facet of his game is the way he finds open shots. During his time in France, he established more and more of his isolation game. He can beat defenders one-on-one by either creating his own shot or driving inside for two. At 6’8” with a 7’1” wingspan, he is ideally set to play power forward in college. As a result, he will most likely go up against guys who are much slower and not as assertive on defense. This will dramatically establish his scoring as he will easily find open ways to score in that facet of the game.
Another way that Hoard is able to find open basket opportunities is with the transition game. His length, similar to Mucius, allows him to become pesky on the defensive end. Between tip passes, steals, and blocks, Hoard has been a known factor on the defensive end. This has allowed him to generate a lot of points on the fastbreak. That’s why he would fit perfectly with the Deacons’ roster. As Sarr seems to be up and coming in the rebound department, Hoard will get his fair share of opportunities in the fastbreak this upcoming year. Another thing to look out for is that Sarr and Hoard were once teammates in France, so their already established basketball chemistry should continue going forward. Finally, with the high basketball IQ of Childress at the point, Hoard’s transition opportunities should come at an even higher rate.
Sarr is set to become the backbone of the team this upcoming season. With the departure of Doral Moore, he has claimed the title as the team’s starting center. I believe that he has what it takes to flourish in this new role.
The main aspect of Sarr’s game has been his rebounding. He has already been a solid rebounder throughout his first year on the team as he totaled an impressive 15% defensive rebound percentage while only playing fifteen minutes a game. But, Sarr wasn’t satisfied with that. During the offseason, as some of you may know, he began to morph his body into becoming a tougher and physical player down low. That came by gaining an impressive 40 pounds this offseason.
This new physique will certainly help him in grabbing more second-chance opportunities for the Deacons. This also allows for more transition opportunities after a defensive rebound, which, as I previously stated, is a facet of the game that this team can flourish in.
On defense, Sarr’s weight gain should definitely help the overall impact on that end of the floor. His presence in the paint should allow the team to become more focused on the perimeter as they know they have an ideal shot-blocker down low.
However, it doesn’t seem like Sarr gained anything on offense. He was a non-threat from three last year and hasn’t shown signs of improving that in the near future. His only true way of generating offense will be on average post ups and offensive putbacks.
Still, Sarr has shown that he is ready to take on the tradition of successful Deacon big men.
There you have it. Those are my choices for the Deacons’ starting five. Did I miss anyone? Let me know in the comments below!