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ACC Basketball Preview: Wake Forest

Quick Facts

2005-06
Record: 17-17 , 3-13 in the ACC
ACC Regular Season Finish: 12th
ACC Tournament Result: Lost in Semifinals
NCAA Tournament Result: None. Lost in NIT 1st round

Players and Coaches

Head Coach: Skip Prosser, 5th season at WF, 111-52. 13th season overall, 276-130
Key Returnees: G Harvey Hale(5.6 ppg), F Michael Drum(5.5 ppg), C Kyle Visser(5.0 ppg), F Kevin Swinton(2.8 ppg), F Cameron Stanley(2.6 ppg)

Preseason Rankings
Poll Rankings: None
ACC Preseason Poll: 10th

Outlook

Wake Forest lost a lot to graduation which is a massive problem considering they were the worst team in the conference last season with the talent that is no longer there. Justin Gray, Eric Williams, and Trent Strickland took about 46 ppg with them as well as the bulk of the assists and rebounds. So where does Wake go from here? Most likely to see if the 18th ranked recruiting class has someone who can run the point. Ishmael Smith looks to be the odds on favorite for that task. Touted for his speed he has drawn some comparisons to Chris Paul and Wake really needs him to turn in some Paul-like performances if they want to escape the ACC cellar. In terms of experienced players Wake returns two seniors and four sophomores who saw significant minutes last season. The Demon Deacons will need Kyle Visser and Michael Drummond to step up and provide not only leadership but scoring threats on the low post and a rebounding presence. A year ago Wake was the second best rebounding team in the conference but has lost 60% of that through attrition. With so many points and rebounds gone Skip Prosser will be looking for production in all sort of places. Of the four sophomores only Kevin Swinton was ranked coming out of high school but played only sparingly last season. Harvey Hale averaged over 21 minutes a game while putting up around 5 points a contest. These two along with Cameron Stanley and Shermaine Dukes could form a core of solid players alongside the senior laden front court and a very large freshman class. Those freshman, incidentally, consume half of the roster and some of them, like Smith and shooting guard Anthony Gurley, will contribute right away out of sheer necessity. Prosser is a good coach who should be able to make use of the talent he has, though the losses he has endured and the learning curve associated with so many inexperienced players will make the first two to three months of the season very difficult.

THF Prediction

I am having trouble reconciling the loss of so much from last season and the dependence on so many unproven players which makes me a complete hypocrite because Roy Williams had the same hand dealt to him and he finished second in the conference. The problem with Wake is they finished last with the players they had and now have lost all of them so I am having difficulty raising them out of the cellar in my prediction. So let it be noted right here than on paper I think Wake is one year away from fielding a really good basketball team. There is simply too many questions for me to consider them even as high as the ACC media has put them at 10th. I also realize I could miss this one because there is no way of knowing how well these freshmen will play or which one of the current sophomores will raise his game to such a level as to boost the team. In other words Wake could be 12th in the conference like I think they will be or they could climb as high as 8th. Such is the nature of basketball nowadays.

Prediction: 13-16 overall, 3-13 in the ACC for 12th place