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Return to the 2006-07 Top 144 Preview

June 18th, 2006

By Joel Welser

Broadcast Basketball



Wake Forest Demon Deacons

Overall Rank: #143

Conference Rank: #12 ACC


2005-06: 17-17, 3-13, 12th

2005-06 postseason: NIT


It wasn’t pretty last year for Wake Forest.  And with the top four scorers gone, it could get even worse.  The good news is that the recruiting class is decent and will fill some major holes; however, the freshmen can only do so much.   Skip Prosser stuck around North Carolina after rumors swirled about the possibility of his departure for Cincinnati and that is a good thing for Wake Forest fans.  The expectations are low this year, but with the talent Wake Forest has, a year or two of experience will turn things around in a positive direction just as quickly as things went south over the last couple of years. 


Who’s Out: Justin Gray averaged a team high 18.2 points and 4.3 assists during his senior campaign.  Eric Williams’ 16.3 points and 8.9 rebounds will be missed under the basket, as will the teams’ second and third leading rebounders, Trent Strickland and Chris Ellis.


Who’s In: Ishmael Smith might not be the most highly touted recruit heading to Winston-Salem, but the point guard is a welcome addition for Wake fans.  Smith is most noted for his blazing speed.  He will drive and dish with the best of them in the class of 2006.  The outside shooting is a concern, but the 6-0, Concord, NC native just needs to keep the turnovers down and drive the lane.  A trio of big men will provide some much needed depth up front.  Jamie Skeen is the best of the bunch, but the 6-8 forward wants to spend time at the 3-spot instead of the four.  Skip Prosser could use him at both spots.  Skeen likes to run and can help out on the glass.  Chas McFarland needs to gain some strength, but the 7-0 center could see some minutes.  Casey Crawford is a battler.  He isn’t a great athlete, but he’ll make up for it with toughness.  The key to Crawford being a productive player is his ability to play facing the basket.  While the inside game isn’t polished, Crawford can easily get the opposing defender out of his comfort zone by stepping back and hitting a three.   Anthony Gurley is one of the best shooting guards coming into NCAA basketball this year.  He’s a tremendous shooter and his ballhandling has improved so much that it isn’t out of the question for him to run the point.  Even if he doesn’t crack the starting five, Gurley will see plenty of minutes and Wake fans hope he’ll drain plenty of three’s.  L.D. Williams will fill in some minutes at the shooting guard and small forward spots.  Williams is a typical athletic wing type and has plenty of potential.  Power forward David Weaver, who redshirted last season, will see his first action this season and will provide more depth up front.


Who to Watch: With the mass exodus of quality rebounders, the work on the glass will fall to Kyle Visser and Kevin Swinton.  Visser started 17 games last year, averaging 5.0 points and 4.3 boards.  The 6-11 senior should see a drastic increase in minutes, and the production needs to increase in order for the Deacons to hold their own in the paint.  Swinton, a 6-7 sophomore, had an effective freshman campaign and the expectations are rising for this season.   He’s a tough, hardworking player on the defensive glass, but could use some work on his offensive game. 


Final Projection: This is a young team.  Luckily, players tend to improve a lot between their freshmen and sophomore seasons.   Look for Harvey Hale, Shamaine Dukes, and Cameron Stanley, along with Swinton, to be more productive members of the team.  Somebody has to finish 12th in the conference, and the Demon Deacons have the most question marks and unproven talent. 


Projected Post-season Tournament: none


Projected Starting Five:

Ishmael Smith, Freshman, Guard, DNP last season

Harvey Hale, Sophomore, Guard, 5.6 points per game

Michael Drum, Senior, Forward, 5.5 points per game

Kevin Swinton, Sophomore, Forward, 2.8 points per game

Kyle Visser, Senior, Center, 5.0 points per game

#144 Montana » #142 Ohio

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