Coach Bzdelik Keeps Wake Recruiting Class Intact

April 22, 2010

The first job of most new head coaches is to assess the current roster, and immediately attempt to keep any committed recruits from jumping ship. While some coaches don’t pay as much attention to this as others, in the case of new Wake Forest head coach Doug Bzdelik, keeping a top ten recruiting class intact was the top priority.

The class, comprised of Tony Chennault, J.T. Terrell, Carson Desrosiers, Melvin Tabb and Travis McKie, have all signed letters of intent and are bound to play for Wake next season, but could have asked for their release with the recent firing of former head coach Dino Gaudio.

Assistant coaches Jeff Battle and Rusty Larue, both of whom remained as assistants following Gaudio’s departure, worked quickly to ensure that all five recruits still intended to play for the Demon Deacons. Joining Bzdelik on an impromptu tour of all five players over two days, the three coaches were able to reassure the recruits that the situation in Winson-Salem would still be the one they expected when they originally committed.

This was no doubt helped by the consistency of keeping Battle and Larue on as assistants. Both Battle and Larue have ties to the local community, and Larue played for Wake Forest in both basketball and football before playing with Micheal Jordan and the Chicago Bulls. Eventually, once his playing career was over, he returned to Winston-Salem to coach both college and then high school before taking the assistant job at Wake.

As the coaches were able to complete the quick tour to keep their solid recruiting class intact, they also have to look to how they are going to create a competitive team after losing their mainstay senior point guard in Ish Smith and their top scorer in Al-Farouq Aminu, who declared for the draft and is likely gone. The coaches will need to find a way to win with the dominance of youthful talent on their roster, which is no small feat in the ACC.

Triad Pro-Am Rundown, Wake Forest incoming frosh

July 18, 2008

Rusty Larue, the former Wake Forest and Chicago Bulls guard, put together a summer league of professionals and amateurs three years ago, and it’s still going strong. The talent level in the Triad Pro-Am is pretty high; NBA All-Star Chris Paul played in two games before jumping a plane to Vegas to work out with the Olympic team this week.

The big draw of the night is usually the Wake Forest recruits and players; in the first game I watched, James Johnson scored 40, leading his team over Harvey Hale’s squad. Johnson was unstoppable, slashing to the basket for dunks or layups, or pulling up and nailing threes.

Coach Gaudio talks with Mike Drum and yes, that’s James Johnson in the background.

There aren’t a lot of high school players who play in the Triad Pro-Am, but all three Wake Forest incoming recruits were in action, including McDonald’s All American Al-Farouq Aminu, Ty Walker and Tony Woods.

Tony Woods

The first incoming Wake player to take the floor was Tony Woods (C, 6’10”, 2008). Woods looks every bit of 6’10” and then some. However, I’ve seen him play better. He seemed winded quickly, and despite some nice moves here and there, often seemed tentative with the ball. I’m not sure if it was because of Coach Deano Gaudio standing a few feet under the basket, but whatever the reason, Woods showed only a few glimpses of the aggressive finisher I’ve seen in other games. That being said, Woods is that rare commodity in college basketball, a legit center. There is no 3 or 4 to his game, he is a back to the basket player, with size and bulk to bang in the paint.

Ty Walker

Walker is not the big body that Woods is; while Woods looked bigger than his listed 6’10”, Walker looked smaller than his listed 7 feet, but I saw the games in different gyms. Walker runs the court like a forward, looking more like a 4 than a 5. He and Ish Smith arrived late to their game and I did not get to see them play as much. Walker did not get many touches, but seemed to get pushed out of the action in the halfcourt sets.

Al-Farouq Aminu

The big draw of the night was Chris Paul, but the second biggest was no doubt Aminu. Aminu is exactly what I’ve seen before; a future NBA 3 who never sees a shot he doesn’t like. The thing is, he looks and handles the ball like a legit 3 but he can shoot like a 2, with that perfect fluid shot that barely touches net as it slips through. He did have a nice slashing spin move to the basket a couple of times. He can get off his own shot, and he handled the ball well even against PG Ish Smith. However, I think his strengths are finding the seams in the d for jumpers or layups. This kid is big time.

Other notes

James Johnson is a stud. Of all the players I saw, he was the best, even better than Aminu.

The player who had everybody scrambling for their roster sheet was Jamal Durham, a 6’6″ player for Winston-Salem State. In a game where Wake star Jeff Teague showed his unbelievable quickness, Durham looked really good.

Chris Paul doesn’t mind walking around the parking lot in his nice white socks.

LD Williams loves to play above the rim.

Lees-McRae incoming freshman Kyle Boardman is a pure PF who surprised me with his outside shot. He plays strong with the ball and although he is not a high flyer, he can bang in the paint. Speaking of Lees-McRae, current LM PG Jesse Hoots was one of the better PGs that played in the Triad Pro Am.

While we’re talking about Lees-McRae, which is in Banner Elk, NC, they just picked up Juco player Vlady Nikolov, a 6’1″ guard.