Courtesy of Wake Forest Athletics
The Wake Forest basketball program is a historic one, producing NBA legends such as Tim Duncan and Chris Paul. In recent years they have struggled to hit their stride, but last year’s campaign proved to be a step in the right direction. Second-year head coach Steve Forbes re-awakened the Demon Deacons and turned the team around, only coming up one win short of an NCAA tournament berth.
Highlights from last year’s season include the Demon Deacons’ 22-point victory over UNC, a team who would go on to play for the National Championship. The Demon Deacons’ stellar conference play earned them a first-round bye in the ACC Tournament, where they came up short against Boston College. Wake Forest then competed in the NIT and defeated Towson and VCU in the first two rounds but lost in the quarterfinals to Texas A&M.
The Demon Deacons will look to make the final jump to the NCAA tournament – but it will not be an easy task with departures of some key players. Forward Jake LaRavia, who led the team in field goal percentage with 55.9% from the field, was drafted 19th overall by the Minnesota Timberwolves and later traded to the Memphis Grizzlies. 2022 ACC Player of the Year Alondes Williams led Wake Forest with 18.5 points per game and was at the top of scoring and assists list in the ACC. He recently signed a two-way deal with the Brooklyn Nets. While it is exciting to see how these Demon Deacons will perform at the next level, their presence will be missed. Four of the five top scorers from last season are gone, and recent transfer additions will look to make an impact.
Wake Forest has six returning players for this season. Transfer additions of guard Jao Ituka from Marist, who was MAAC Freshman of the Year, and graduate transfer Tyree Appleby from Florida, will make up the new front court for the Demon Deacons.
Wake Forest has made an effort to schedule more Power Conference opponents to not only provide a challenge for the squad, but increase their chances of a tournament berth. Wake Forest will square off against Wisconsin on November 29, and play LSU on December 10th.