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Wake notes: Steve Forbes moving quickly on compiling roster and coaching staff
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Wake notes: Steve Forbes moving quickly on compiling roster and coaching staff

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Athletics director John Currie said his search for a new basketball coach would move quickly and indeed it did, with Wake Forest hiring Steve Forbes last week.

Forbes said the process of putting together his staff and roster would move quickly and indeed, it is.

Here are the latest notes on the Deacons’ makeup and a few other notes from last week’s news:

Player retention

Forbes said that his “No. 1 recruiting responsibility” was to re-recruit the players who were still at Wake Forest when he took over, and he’s already pulled back two of the four players who entered the transfer portal last week.

Ismael Massoud and Ody Oguama, both freshmen forwards last season, will return to the Deacons, Forbes told Les Johns on 247sports.com. They were two of the three players who played in all 31 games last season, Massoud averaging 4.8 points per game and shooting 39.8% on 3-pointers (33 of 83), and Oguama starting 24 games and averaging 2.9 points and 3.9 rebounds.

Officially, Massoud entered the portal and is returning, while Oguama never entered.

Another who never entered and is returning is rising junior forward Isaiah Mucius, who announced with a Twitter post that he’s “here to stay.”

Forbes also told Johns that he and the entire staff — keep reading for more on who that entails — met for two hours this weekend with Olivier Sarr. The third-team All-ACC center is staying with teammate Blake Buchanan in Durham instead of returning to his native France during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 7-foot, 255-pound Sarr would be quite the first haul for Forbes’ first recruiting class, per se, at Wake Forest. Sarr averaged 13.7 points and 9.0 rebounds per game last season, and Forbes’ open-court concepts would seem to only cater to Sarr’s skillset — after taking 40 3-pointers in his first two seasons, he only took seven last season.

Rounding out the confirmed players, as it stood Monday afternoon, are incoming freshmen Quadry Adams and Marcus Watson, incoming transfers Ian DuBose and Isaiah Wilkins, and redshirt freshman forward Tariq Ingraham.

Coaching staff taking shape

Forbes has brought nearly his entire staff from East Tennessee State to Wake Forest, and is in a holding pattern for a remaining assistant coach.

“Jason Shay has been with me for a long time and I’m hopeful that he’ll be the head coach at East Tennessee State,” Forbes said last week.

Forbes’ other two assistant coaches at ETSU, Brooks Savage and B.J. McKie, have already started at Wake Forest, as has director of basketball operations Frank Davis.

That grouping, plus Randolph Childress, was the envoy that went to Durham to meet with Sarr. Forbes, on multiple occasions now, has guaranteed that Childress — a Wake Forest assistant and associate coach for the past nine seasons — will have a spot on the staff in some capacity.

“He’s always going to have a place here with a job at Wake Forest because he’s one of the greatest players to ever play here, so we’re going to figure that out,” Forbes said.

Strength coach and other staff

Forbes is bringing strength and conditioning coach Mike Starke from ETSU, and thinks highly of him.

“I’m going to bring my strength coach … who’s one of the best in the country. I’ve held off a lot of high majors to hire him,” Forbes said of Starke, who joined his program at ETSU in 2016.

Forbes’ video coordinator at ETSU has been his son, Christopher, and he’ll have the same title at Wake Forest.

“He just finished his master’s degree, he’s been with me for six years. He’s a very talented young man,” Forbes said. “If he wasn’t talented, dad wouldn’t be bringing him. He’s earned his keep.”

Forbes told Johns on the Zoom interview that Antanas Kavaliauskas, who played at Texas A&M in Forbes’ time on staff there, would have a role.

Dave Clawson’s input

Wake Forest’s football coach of six years had contact with Forbes three times last week during the hiring process, which was valuable input to Forbes.

“He has a really good pulse for this institution, academically and athletically,” Forbes said. “I think he’s very wise, on top of being a great coach. He’s a wise man. So I leaned on him a lot.”

Though the two were both assistant coaches at Tennessee in 2008, Forbes said they never met while in Knoxville, Tenn. That was also the time that Currie was an associate athletics director for the Vols.

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