2007-08 Wake Forest Basketball Preview
Wake Forest Demon Deacons
Overall Rank: #110
Conference Rank: #11 ACC
2006-07: 15-16, 5-11, 10th (t)
2006-07 postseason: none
Wake Forest was ready to put a couple years of struggling on the basketball court behind them, but with the tragic and sudden passing of Coach Skip Prosser, that is the last thing on the mind of the Demon Deacon squad and family. Basketball suddenly seems extremely unimportant, but the rebuilding job will continue in Winston-Salem.
The big departure is Kyle Visser. At 17.0 points and 7.4 rebounds, the center was the only player on the team to average double digits in scoring or over five rebounds. Replacing that production will not be easy. Michael Drum is the only other loss due to graduation. The forward was a decent scorer and long range shooter who ranked third on the team in scoring, but the Deacons have more athletic options ready to take over. Kevin Swinton and Shamaine Dukes have opted to transfer after seeing quality minutes in 2006-2007. Casey Crawford never quite found his groove at Wake Forest as a freshman and will also be playing elsewhere next year.
All three incoming freshmen will get the opportunity to play early and often. Point guard Jeff Teague does a great job of creating off the dribble and has enough scoring prowess to spend some time at the other guard position. Once Teague learns the ropes and puts on some more muscle, he should be a quality ACC player. Shooting guard Gary Clark will add that much needed consistent shooting touch to the Deacons. If he does it well enough, Clark could be starting sooner than later, but at the least he is expected to provide a spark off the bench. James Johnson, a 6-8 forward, has a little work to do before he is officially on the team. Once he develops a little more range or an offensive presence in the paint, Johnson will be much more effective, but he has enough strength and passion to provide some quality minutes right away.
Who to Watch:
Ishmael Smith and L.D. Williams had tremendous freshmen campaigns and big things are expected of them as sophomores. Smith, a 5-11 point guard, averaged 6.0 assists per game and is a quality scorer. He is not a great shooter, but will get to the basket for the easy buckets. Williams is not a shooter either and therein lies the problem with the Demon Deacons this year. However, Williams is a great slasher and will play above the rim. Harvey Hale is the best shooter on the team, but that is not saying too much when the rest of the projected starting backcourt shoots less than 60 percent from the charity stripe. Hale is the expendable piece of the perimeter and if one of the newcomers proves to be a better shooter, Hale will be relegated to the bench.
David Weaver has the unenviable job of replacing the underappreciated Visser. The 6-10 sophomore only averaged 2.5 points and 1.7 rebounds last year and his reaction to seeing a drastic increase in playing time may be the difference between a good year and a bad year for Wake Forest. Luckily, he has some help up front in the form of Jamie Skeen. As a freshman, Skeen averaged 7.5 points and 4.6 boards. He may have spent a little too much time on the perimeter, but Skeen can step outside and hit the long ball or mix it up inside. The Demon Deacons are on the rise. Even the loss of Visser will not stop the team from developing and being really, really good relatively soon. As quickly as Wake Forest went from a #2 seed in the NCAA Tournament to the ACC basement, they can be right back up there as a #2 seed. It is not happening this year, but the young guys will develop into ACC stars and will be a force in the conference by 2008-2009.
Projected Post-season Tournament: none
Projected Starting Five:
Ishmael Smith, Sophomore, Guard, 8.7 points per game
Harvey Hale, Junior, Guard, 8.4 points per game
L.D. Williams, Sophomore, Guard, 8.2 points per game
Jamie Skeen, Sophomore, Forward, 7.5 points per game
David Weaver, Sophomore, Center, 2.5 points per game