All rankings are courtesy of 247sports.
Wake Forest basketball's Jaylen Hoard came into the season as the highest ranked Deacon Deacon freshman since Al-Farouq Aminu in 2008. He was also the Deacons’ first five-star recruit since Aminu.
As such, the expectations for Hoard were set extremely high, and may have even been too high.
Through 15 games so far, Hoard is averaging 14.7 points, 8.0 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 0.7 steals, 0.5 blocks, 2.3 fouls, and 2.7 turnovers in 29.7 minutes per game. He is shooting 47.4% from the field, 19.2% from beyond the arc, and 70.8% from the free throw line.
Hoard is supposed to be the best player on the team and has fellow four star freshman Isaiah Mucius and four-star sophomore Chaundee Brown for help, along with junior point guard and team leader Brandon Childress.
For comparison, in his freshman season Aminu averaged 12.9 points, 8.2 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 1.2 blocks, 1.0 steals, 2.6 fouls, and 2.6 turnovers in 29.0 minutes per game. He shot 51.6% from the field, 17.9% from beyond the arc, and 67.1% from the free throw line.
But Aminu also didn't have to be, and wasn't expected to be, “THE GUY” in his freshman year as he had sophomores and future first round picks James Johnson and Jeff Teague, along with juniors L.D. Williams, future NBA point guard Ishmael Smith, and Chas McFarland to support him. He also had fellow four-stars Tony Woods and Ty Walker in his class.
There has been a lot of concern about Hoard’s effort, as some say that at times it seems like he just doesn't really care. But that may be more of an indictment on his coach than on him as a player. After all, Hoard has scored in double-figures in all but two games so far this year and is the second leading scorer on the team behind Childress.
Jaylen is still projected as either a lottery pick or in the mid first round in most mock drafts, and the only big knock on his game from scouts is his lack of a perimeter shot.
For comparison, the number one small forward in the class of 2018 was Duke’s Cam Reddish. On a much deeper team, he is averaging 13.3 points, 2.9 rebounds, 1.9 steals, 1.7 assists, 0.4 blocks, 2.5 fouls, and 3.0 turnovers in 23.6 minutes per game. Cam shoots 38.2% from the field, 35.8% from beyond the arc, and 72.1% from the free throw line.
Hoard was ranked as the number six small forward in the 2018 recruiting class.
The fifth ranked small forward in the class was Oregon’s Louis King. He is averaging 8.9 points, 4.8 rebounds, 0.9 assists, 0.8 steals, 0.2 blocks, 2.2 fouls and 1.6 turnovers in 22.7 minutes per game. He shoots 36.6% from the field, 34.3% from beyond the arc, and 80% from the free throw line.
The seventh ranked small forward was Duke’s Joey Baker, who has not played due to the logjam at small forward with Reddish, RJ Barrett, Jack White, and Zion Williamson all eating up time.
Hoard was ranked 24th overall in the class, just behind Florida’s Andrew Nembhard and just ahead of North Carolina’s Coby White.
In looking at the numbers, perhaps Hoard hasn't been so bad after all, and just happens to be stuck on a bad team where his game doesn't stand out nearly as much in the national spotlight.
Jaylen’s stats are actually really good, and while he has his moments that make us frustrated where he seems like he isn't giving forth enough effort, perhaps we shouldn't have placed such high expectations on him given the lack of talent surrounding him and the fact that he is only a 19-year old kid in his first year of college.
Here’s hoping Jaylen’s game continues to improve as his experience in the best college basketball conference in the country grows.