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2011-12 College Basketball Season Preview: Wake Forest

Written by Paul Banks of the Washington Times, David Kay and Peter Christian of the The Sports Bank. Send Paul an e-mail here: paulb05 AT hotmail DOT com.
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Wake Forest Demon Deacons (Last Year: 8-24, 1-15 in ACC)

2011-12 Projected Depth Chart:

C: Carson Desrosiers (So)/Ty Walker (Sr)

PF: Nikita Mescheriakov (Sr)/Melvin Tabb (So)/Daniel Green (Fr)

SF: Travis McKie (So)

SG: J.T. Terrell (So)/Chase Fischer (Fr)

PG: C.J. Harris (Jr)/Tony Chennault (So)/Anthony Fields (Fr)

Gone: SG-Gary Clark, PF-Ari Stewart (transfer-USC)

2011-12 Outlook:
Jeff Bzdelik inherited a major reloading project in his first year at Wake Forest, having to replace several key seniors: Al-Farouq Aminu who left early for the NBA, and the troubled Tony Woods. With an extremely young team, the Demon Deacons only managed to win one ACC game and ending the year on a 10-game losing skid.

The brightest light in an otherwise dismal season came from freshman small forward Travis McKie who led the team in scoring and rebounding. Fellow freshman J.T. Terrell had a solid first season at Wake and will play heavy minutes in the backcourt along with returning starting point guard, C.J. Harris. That trio provides some excitement and will be asked to carry the scoring load.

Sophomore Tony Chennault missed half of last season due to a broken foot but should provide a boost off the bench. Freshman Chase Fischer gives the Demon Deacons a solid shooter while Anthony Fields will likely get lost in the shuffle.

The frontcourt must replace starting power forward Ari Stewart who chose to transfer to USC. Seven-foot sophomore Carson Desrosiers showed progress throughout his freshman campaign and should be more effective as he adds strength throughout the offseason. Nikita Mescheriakov became eligible after the first semester and could end up as the starting power forward. That combination does not give the Demon Deacons a lot of muscle inside, but both guys are capable of stepping out on the perimeter and knocking down jump shots.

Frontcourt depth could especially be an issue since Wake recently suspended backups Ty Walker and Melvin Tabb indefinitely for a violation of departmental rules. If their absence on the floor lingers into the season, it will leave 6-10 freshman Daniel Green as the only reserve post player. The eligibility of Walker and Tabb could be the difference between this team finishing in the cellar of the ACC since they provide more muscle in the paint.

There is skill on the roster but not a whole lot of proven depth. This will be another painful season, but the future is looking up as Bzdelik has already received three verbal commitments from top-100 recruits for the 2012 class.

Player to Watch: Travis McKie, SF
McKie might have been one of the more underhyped freshman of the 2010-11 season. He earned an invite to workout with the USA U-19 team this summer although he did not make the final roster that played in Latvia. McKie's length, athleticism and ability to rebound the basketball are his biggest assets. If he can become a more consistent outside shooter, the 6-7 sophomore could have a breakout season and help Wake Forest surprise some people.

Key Non-Conference Games:
  • 11/24-27 vs. Indiana State, Arizona State, Dayton, DePaul, Fairfield, Minnesota, Texas Tech (Old Spice Classic)
  • 11/30 at Nebraska (Big Ten/ACC Challenge)
  • 12/10 at Seton Hall

    Predicted ACC Finish: 11th

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