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Wake Forest Demon Deacons men's basketball 2018-19 season preview

Wake Forest 

2017-18 record: 11-20, 4-14 in the ACC

Head coach: Danny Manning

Tenure at Wake Forest: 5th season

Career coaching record: 92-102

Home court: Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum

Starters: G Brandon Childress, G Chaundee Brown, F Jaylen Hoard, F Isaiah Mucius, C Olivier Sarr

Bench: G Torry Johnson, G Jamie Lewis, G Sharone Wright Jr., F Ikenna Smart

Overview: Wake Forest has taken a sharp turn in the wrong direction since making the NCAA tournament two years ago, led by first-team All-ACC big man John Collins. After he left early for the NBA, the Demon Deacons limped to just 11 wins last season, and their top three scorers led a mass exodus in the offseason—Bryant Crawford and Doral Moore are playing professionally, and Keyshawn Woods transferred to Ohio State. Regular starters Mitchell Wilbekin and Terrence Thompson graduated as well.

But there's good news, too. To keep the program afloat, Danny Manning landed the best recruiting class of his career, highlighted by five-star wing Jaylen Hoard. The No. 22 player in ESPN's Class of 2018 rankings grew up in France but played his final two years of high school at Wesleyan Christian Academy in High Point, N.C., just 20 miles from Wake Forest's campus. He will be joined by four-star freshmen Isaiah Mucius, Jamie Lewis and Sharone Wright Jr.

Wake Forest also added graduate transfers Torry Johnson and Ikenna Smart from Northern Arizona and Buffalo, respectively, to contribute to a mostly new-look team. The Demon Deacons have a thin veteran core with sophomore Chaundee Brown as the only returning starter along with junior Brandon Childress and 7-footer Olivier Sarr.

One thing that needs to go right: Hoard plays at a first-team All-ACC level on his way to the NBA Draft to help Wake Forest pull a couple of big upsets and sneak into the top 10 of the conference.

One thing that could go wrong: The Demon Deacons' young core never figures out how to play together, and a string of losses snowballs into a last-place finish in the ACC.


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