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Wake Forest’s Ceiling is as High as Appleby Takes Them

Transfer point guard has carried the Deacs so far this season

NCAA Basketball: Wake Forest at Wisconsin Kayla Wolf-USA TODAY Sports

Steve Forbes has done it again. After losing 4 of his 5 starters—including the ACC Player of the Year Alondes Williams—from the 2021-22 basketball season, the Wake Forest head coach has once again found an all-star in the transfer portal. Tyree Appleby is not only the best player for the Deacs, but he’s also one of the best players in all of college basketball so far this season.

Through 8 games this season, Appleby is averaging 19.6 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 5.5 assists per game. That puts him at 35th in the nation in point per game and 34th in the nation in assists per game. Not only is he scoring a lot, but he’s scoring a lot efficiently. Appleby is currently shooting 53% from the floor and a ridiculous 46% from beyond the arc so far this season. How good is that? Well, according to this chart courtesy of the Player Stats tool over at CBB Analytics, it’s pretty dang good.

Of all the players in DI college basketball this season who meet the qualifications listed on the chart, there are just a handful of players who score more points per game than Appleby, and almost none who score more points with a higher true shooting percentage. If you’re not a stat junky, true shooting percentage is basically “points per shooting possession” and measures scoring efficiency. You can see from the huge gap between Appleby and the next Wake Forest player just how much the Deacs have relied on his offense so far this season.

So how important has Appleby been to Wake Forest’s success this season? We have seen his ability to take over a game and carry the Deacs on his back to victory more than once so far this year—he basically single-handedly willed Wake to wins against Wisconsin and Utah Valley earlier this season. Take a look at the difference in production for Wake Forest when Appleby is on the court vs when he is on the bench (compiled the stats myself so they are unofficial).

The Appleby Difference

Stat On Court On Bench
Stat On Court On Bench
O Rtg 115 94
D Rtg 90 118
Net +/- 121 -25
Assist/TO 1.15 0.83

When Appleby goes to the bench, Wake’s offensive and defensive efficiency get worse by over 20 points per 100 possessions. That is a stark difference. The Deacs are also getting outscored by opponents when Appleby is on the bench, and they turn the ball over more than they assist on baskets. I’ve seen several comparisons of Appleby to Alondes Williams last season, so let’s take a quick look at how Williams’s ACC POY campaign compared to what Appleby has done so far this season.

The Williams Difference (2021-22)

Stat On Court On Bench
Stat On Court On Bench
O Rtg 110 103
D Rtg 97 97
Net +/- 269 28
Assist/TO 1.16 0.90

Keep in mind that those stats are over a full season, but we don’t see the same drastic change when Williams went to the bench last season that we do with Appleby this season. Obviously, having a 1st round NBA draft pick and a ton of vets on that team meant they were more capable of holding their own with Williams went to the bench.

All of that said, it has only been 8 games, and Wake has only played 1 team ranked in the top 100 by KenPom (Geogia just misses at 106). But so far, the Deacs are 7-1 and truly looked like they could be contenders in the ACC in the game against Wisconsin in Madison. How high can Wake go this season? The answer seems clear to me—as high as Appleby will take them.

Go Deacs!