Wake Forest Men’s Basketball Head Coach Danny Manning will be returning for his sixth season next year, Athletic Director Ron Wellman announced on Friday.
In November 2017, a source told ESPN’s Jeff Goodman that Manning’s contract extends until 2024-25. The buyout for Manning to be relieved of his duties and for a new coach to be brought in would have been at a steep price for the university. Rumors have been swirling for most of the season about Manning’s job security, and while Wellman expressed his support, the significant buyout was likely the main reason no change was made. This presumably financially based decision has caused outcry from many Demon Deacon fans.
“Following the season, Danny and I … were in agreement that this past season did not approach the expectations either of us has for Wake Forest basketball,” said Wellman in the news release. “I expect that Danny will take the steps needed to show improvement on the court next season while continuing to lead our student-athletes to represent Wake Forest positively in the classroom and in the community.”
Through five seasons at the helm, Manning has led Wake Forest to a 65-93 record, 24-66 in the ACC. Under Manning, the best ACC finish for the Deacs has been 10th. This season’s 11-20 record was a mirror image of the preceding one. The 2018-19 season also featured home losses to Houston Baptist and Gardner-Webb as well as nine losses by 20 or more points.
However, Manning has admirably handled his criticism and has expressed the optimism he has for the 2019-20 season.
“With our returning players, our transfers who will become eligible next season and our incoming recruiting class, I believe that this team will have the ability, desire and chemistry to take a step forward next season” said Manning.
The only player who is without a doubt not returning next year is graduate transfer Ikenna Smart. Wake Forest’s other grad transfer, Torry Johnson, is expected to be granted a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA. Andrien White and Miles Lester, who transferred from UNC-Charlotte and Rice respectively, will be eligible next year.
Freshman Jaylen Hoard is likely the only Deac who will consider leaving early for the NBA Draft. Online mock drafts predict Hoard to be selected anywhere from the beginning of the second round to not being picked at all, so his status for next season is currently unknown. The possibility of other players pursuing a professional career or transferring to another school also exists.
The Deacs have signed four recruits for next season. Incoming freshman Ismael Massoud and Charles Coleman are given three-star ratings by ESPN, while Jahcobi Neath and Ody Oguama aren’t ranked on the site.
The No. 2 player in the 2019 class, Cole Anthony, is still uncommitted, and Wake Forest is in his top five. Most recruiting experts are predicting that Anthony will end up choosing North Carolina or Oregon, but he has a relationship with Manning through USA Basketball, and Mucius and Massoud are his former teammates. If Anthony decided to come to Wake Forest, expectations and excitement for next season would skyrocket.
While fans may not be thrilled with the decision to retain Manning, a few student athletes on the basketball team expressed their joy that their coach was returning via social media.
“Happy to have you back, coach! We got some work to do so let’s get started,” freshman Isaiah Mucius tweeted.
Junior Brandon Childress wrote “Coach, it is all Gods plan. I prayed on it!”
The 2019-20 basketball season is a long way away, and it is very uncertain what the roster will look like. The one thing that is certain at the moment, however, is that Danny Manning will be continue to lead the way as head coach.