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Wake Forest preview: What you need to know about the 2021-22 men's basketball team
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Wake Forest preview: What you need to know about the 2021-22 men's basketball team

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A preview of the Wake Forest men’s basketball season:

Season and home opener

William & Mary, 7 p.m. Wednesday (ACCNX)

Coach

Steve Forbes (266-83 overall in 11 college seasons; 6-16 in one season at Wake Forest)

2020-21 record

3-15 ACC, 6-16 overall

Prediction

13th place in conference; voting by league coaches

Key additions

F Jake LaRavia (12.5 points, 6.1 rebounds last season at Indiana State)

F/C Dallas Walton (6.5 points, 2.8 rebounds at Colorado)

Alondes Williams (6.7 points, 2.8 rebounds at Oklahoma)

Key losses

G Ian DuBose (10.9 points, 4.9 rebounds)

F Ismael Massoud (8.3 points, 3.4 rebounds)

C Ody Oguama (7.6 points, 5.4 rebounds)

Key returnees

G Daivien Williamson (12.9 points, 2.5 assists)

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Isaiah Mucius (10.3 points, 5.2 rebounds)

Carter Whitt (4.7 points, 2.7 rebounds)

Looking back

Forbes’ debut season didn’t get a fair launching-off point. Two games in, the program dealt with a COVID-19 shutdown that created a one-month layoff between games. The Deacons returned to play tight games in the start of conference play – winning three ACC games over a five-game stretch – before a slog to the season’s end, which finished with a buzzer-beating loss to Notre Dame in the first round of the ACC Tournament.

Looking ahead

With nine new players, this version of the Deacons will look much different than last year. They’ve gotten taller – spearheaded by a smooth 6-foot-8 scoring threat, Jake LaRavia, and the addition of veteran presences Dallas Walton and Khadim Sy in the frontcourt – and they have a group of guards that play with the athleticism and tempo to boost Forbes’ offense.

Biggest games

Oregon State, Emerald Coast Classic, Nov. 26

Northwestern, Nov. 30

At Virginia Tech, Dec. 4

At Louisville, Dec. 29

Duke, Jan. 12

North Carolina, Jan. 22

Strengths

This team will share the ball much better than last season. In an exhibition game against Winston-Salem State on Friday, the Deacons had 18 assists on 30 made baskets. The firepower of this team should convert on those extra passes much easier than in 2020-21.

Concerns

Forbes will always challenge the team to work defensively. And the way the coach wants to play starts with effort on that end of the floor. How quickly these new pieces mesh on defense will determine the success of the season.

Worst-case scenario

Nothing should be worse than last season. The talent on this team is much different. But staying among the cellar of the ACC would be a disappointment given the abilities of these Deacons.

Best-case scenario

This season becomes the foundational year that last season should’ve been. And more importantly, it’s a fun one. Wake Forest surprises teams and pushes closer to the middle of the conference scrum. They upset a top team (like a Florida State, who they played tight with last season) and win in the first round of the ACC Tournament for the first time since 2017.

336-727-7165

@ByEthanJoyce

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