Key Departures: Ismael Massoud (–>K-State); Ody Oguama (–>Cincy); Jonah Antonio (Grad); Ian Dubose (Grad); Jalen Johnson (–>Mercer); Jahcobi Neath (–>Wisconsin);
New In Town: Alondes Williams (<–Oklahoma) Khadim Sy (<–Ole Miss); Dallas Walton (<–Colorado); Jake Laravia (<–Indiana St); Cameron Hildreth (#130); Robert McCray (#161); Lucas Taylor (#174); Matthew Marsh (NR)
State of the Program:
Year 1 under Steve Forbes was about what you would expect in a first year at a program like Wake Forest, who has been a bottom feeder in the ACC for over a decade now. Forbes had tremendous success at his prior stop E. Tennessee St and the program is excited about his ability to resurrect this once storied program. The good news is he gets his two most consistently productive players back in Daivien Williamson (SR) and Isaiah Mucius (SR) who will be leaned on once again to lead this team. The bad news is virtually all of the contributors behind those two have left campus, forcing Forbes to turn to the transfer portal and bring in a large FR group to try and fill major holes. A couple other young pieces are back, including Carter Whitt (SO) and Tariq Ingraham (SO) who both will look to make SO jumps into larger roles. Other than those 4 the rest of the rotation will lean on those transfers and Freshmen.
Leading the group of transfers is former Oklahoma G Alondes Williams (SR), who has had a role as a reserve for the Sooners in his two seasons there and is a solid slashing wing who can defend and be a weapon in transition and off the bounce. He has a shot to start in the backcourt alongside Williamson and at the very least should be a major contributor regardless of starting or not. A couple of big men come in as well, and both will battle for the starting 5 spot, the first of which being Khadim Sy (SR) via Ole Miss. The 6’10” big man saw his role regress from year 2 to 3 after he averaged 9/6 in his Soph season when he started 29 games. He is the more experienced of the 2 and likely is the slight favorite to earn the starting gig. He is athletic and can finish inside well, and defensively his length and rebounding ability make him a solid option. The other big incoming is 7-footer Dallas Walton (SR), who has some starts under his belt as well and with a size advantage on Sy can certainly make the case himself to be the starter. He is a little bigger and less athletic, but has a similar skillset as Sy and these two very well could end up just splitting time regardless of who starts, especially with foul trouble factoring in. The last transfer incoming is 6’9” wing Jake Laravia (JR) who was an All-MVC selection a year ago and started 50 of 55 games for the Sycamores over 2 seasons. Laravia is a unique player as he has guard skills with the size of a Forward, and with some development to his jump shot could become an All-Conference player in the ACC as well. He is active defensively and on the offensive glass as well and could start on the wing right away for Forbes. The best of the Freshman class is 6’4” G Cameron Hildreth (#130) who comes in as a very good shooter that has the ability to create his own shot as well as being deadly from catch and shoot scenarios. His quickness and athleticism leave a little to be desired but his shooting ability will give him an immediate opportunity to contribute for the Deacons with a chance down the road to develop into a leading scorer for this program. Next up is 6’3” CG Robert McCray (#161) who is largely the antithesis of classmate Hildreth as the southpaw is a gifted athlete that excels attacking downhill where he can use his athleticism to finish through traffic. His jumper shows promise as well, and despite his being undersized I think his combination of athleticism and feel for the game should allow him to develop into a nice player, should he desire to do so. Another G enters the program in 6’6” Lucas Taylor (#174), who has a bit more size than the others but doesn’t stand out in the same ways the other two do. His shot making ability looks to be good, not great, and same with his athletic ability. His jumper has a funky release that seems to work but may leave him vulnerable to getting blocked as he has a low release. I see him needing more time to develop than the other two, but his size helps his potential. Big man Matthew Marsh (NR) from England is the last newcomer, and given the transfers in the interior he likely will be buried this season, but the European big man will get to develop his game and add strength this year with hopes to contribute in 2022.
Overall there’s a lot of turnover for Forbes, as he is in the trenches of a full rebuild. What he has going for him is he is used to combining transfers with returning talent and doing so with success, as he used the JUCO market heavily in his previous stop. The worry once again for the Demon Deacons is playmaking, as the only really proven guard is Daivien Williamson who followed Forbes from ETSU. Carter Whitt was a top-100 recruit in last year’s class and showed promise, especially late in the season, and those two in the backcourt will have to be leaned on to create offense. I would bet on Forbes to continue to make progress, as he’s had success everywhere he’s been and he was able to get some really talented Freshmen and transfers. They by no means have the talent to leap into the conversation in the ACC but they could get up to 3rd or even 4th to last, and that’s progress for this program.