On Sept. 25, the Wake Forest men’s basketball team held their first official practice, which signaled the unofficial start to the 2019-20 season.
The Demon Deacons play their first game of the season in just over a month, on Nov. 6 at Boston College.
Head Coach Danny Manning is back and the vast majority of last year’s team returns, except for star freshman Jaylen Hoard. So, what is new this year?
A full season preview will be released in a future edition of the Old Gold & Black, but there is something very new this year that doesn’t involve personnel.
On Sept. 13, a ribbon-cutting ceremony officially opened the brand-new basketball facility, the Shah Basketball Complex, as well as the new Sutton Sports Performance Center.
The generosity of Mit Shah (’91) and Ben Sutton (’80, JD ’83) were crucial in the addition of these amenities to the Wake Forest campus.
Nine-time NBA All-Star and Wake Forest legend Chris Paul swung by to tour the new facility on Sept. 25. In a video posted by the men’s basketball team on Twitter, Paul is shown walking around the new building, clearly very impressed by the quality. At the end of the video, while standing at midcourt of the new practice gym, he says “Yeah this is nice, real nice.”
Paul donated $2.5 million on Aug. 7, 2018, in support of the basketball program. His generous donation was the largest ever by any alumnus of Wake Forest under the age of 35.
So, what are the main advantages of the 22,371- square-foot building to Wake Forest basketball?
The state-of-the-art facilities will definitely help with recruiting, as the new resources challenge the top of the college basketball food chain. Beautiful buildings and advanced resources are necessary at this point to recruit at a high level.
“It’s definitely something that we feel like when a recruit comes on campus, you can talk about our practice gym and the weight room and the technology that we have, second to none,’’ Manning said.
The practice gym features analytical sports technology, including the Noah Shooting System, which gives feedback instantly on shots based off of arc and depth.
The facility also includes the Hill Family Team Meeting Room, a modern-designed and comfortable environment where the team can watch film.
The players have had nothing but good things to say about the Shah Complex.
“I thank Mit Shah and Ben Sutton, and everyone who [donated] money to get us this nice facility,” said junior guard Chaundee Brown. “It’s really nice, and I’m grateful to be here.”
“Oh, it’s amazing. I mean, this is amazing,” said junior center Olivier Sarr. “We were waiting for [the new buildings], but now that we have it, we’ve just got to take care of it and use it as much as we can. Especially the nutrition center; I wish I had that my freshman year.”
Additionally, now neither the men’s nor women’s teams will need to leave campus and go to the Lawrence Joel Veterans Coliseum to practice.
This year definitely has a different feel to it. Hopefully the on court performance will too.