Men’s Basketball: new roster offers promise

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Christian Odjakjian, Staff Writer

Amidst all of the uncertainty surrounding college athletics in the COVID-19 era, Wake Forest Men’s Basketball fans finally have a glimmer of hope after a turbulent six years of Danny Manning running the program. Former East Tennessee State Coach Steve Forbes has come in hot to Winston-Salem and generated a lot of buzz, snagging a couple exciting 2021 recruits this fall (Carter Whitt and Cameron Hildreth), injecting some much needed energy into the program. With the losses of Olivier Sarr, Chaundee Brown (transfers to Kentucky and Michigan, respectively), as well as the graduations of Brandon Childress, Andrien White and Torry Johnson, five of the top six scorers from last year’s squad are no longer here. But with Manning out the door, and Forbes and his winning pedigree in (130-43 in five years at ETSU), there’s a lot to be optimistic about. 

A lot of talent is gone, but the combination of young blood and transfer experience gives Forbes a solid roster capable of outperforming expectations. CBS College Hoops Insider Jon Rothstein predicts that Wake Forest will come in last in the ACC this year, so Forbes and his team will definitely have a chip on their shoulder, ready to prove the doubters wrong. Let’s take a look at the roster.

Projected Starting Lineup 

Sophomore Jahcobi Neath (6’3”,  Guard): All four of Neath’s double figure scoring games in his freshman campaign came in the final six games of the season. The explosive guard averaged 5.3 points and 2.2 assists, carving out a bigger role for himself as the season progressed. With Childress gone, the door is open for Neath to have a breakout sophomore season.

Graduate Student Ian Dubose (6’4”, Guard): The transfer from Houston Baptist was a scoring machine last season, averaging 19 points, 7.3 rebounds and 3.8 assists for the Huskies. In November of 2018, Dubose scored 18 for HBU in an overtime win over Wake at the Joel. While scoring won’t be as easy for Dubose in the ACC as it was in the Southland, he’s proved he can get buckets against top competition, scoring 20, 18 and 16 against Texas Tech, Dayton and Michigan, respectively. 

Junior Isaiah Mucius (6’8”, Forward): The most statistically productive returning player to this roster, Mucius is a versatile, high-energy athlete who has only gotten better in his time in Winston-Salem. Averaging 7.3 points and 4.7 rebounds a game, Mucius had nine double-figure scoring games and three double-doubles last year, and scored a career high 19 in the first round of the ACC Tournament in March. 

Sophomore Ismael Massoud (6’8”, Forward): Massoud is a knockdown 3-point shooter, connecting on 40% of his attempts from downtown last year. The sniper has some progress to make defensively, but the potential to improve is certainly there.  His 4.8 points and 2.0 rebounds from last season are sure to increase, and his shooting will help the Deacs space the floor.

Sophomore Ody Oguama (6’9”, Forward): The young big man started 24 games in his freshman season, averaging 2.9 points and 3.9 rebounds. His minutes tailed off a bit at the end of February and into March during Sarr’s hot streak, but Oguama’s role should be bigger this season. Forbes will love his defensive energy and rebounding.

Reserves

Junior Davion Williamson (6’2”,  Guard):

The Winston-Salem native followed Forbes from ETSU where he averaged 10.4 points and 2.6 assists a game last year. Williamson is waiting on the NCAA to find out if he will be immediately eligible to play this season. Assuming he is cleared, the talented guard will have an important role, and his relationship with Forbes should make for a comfortable transition. 

Graduate student Jalen Johnson (6’6”, Guard): Another transfer, Johnson comes from a well established program at Tennessee. The athletic guard averaged just 3.5 points a game for the Volunteers, and will look to carve out a more expansive role for Wake. Johnson is a perfect match for Forbes, and could definitely become a starter for this team.

Junior Isaiah Wilkins (6’4”, Guard): Like Williamson, Wilkins is another transfer who is from Winston-Salem. Wilkins has already received his waiver to be immediately eligible after leaving Virginia Tech. The stalwart defender started five games last season for the Hokies, averaging 4.3 points and 2.6 rebounds in less than 15 minutes per contest.

Graduate Student Jonah Antonio (6’5”, Guard): Another transfer! The Aussie averaged 6.9 points a game for UNLV last year and is a knockdown 3-point shooter. 

Redshirt Freshman Tariq Ingraham 6’9”, Forward): The 250-pound Ingraham suffered a season ending achilles injury last preseason in October. The Deacs don’t have a ton of size, so Ingraham could carve out an important role off the bench in his first season.

Freshman Quadry Adams (6’3”, Guard):  The freshman from New Jersey should get some minutes this year. 

Freshman Emmanuel Okpomo (6’10”): Okpoko played high school ball at blue blood Oak Hill Academy, the number three team in the country. At 225 pounds, Forbes has another young big body to develop here.

Walk-ons: Sunday Okeke, Anthony Mathis Jr, Miles Lester, Blake Buchanan and Grant Van Beveren likely won’t see much floor time this season considering the depth ahead of them.