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Clemson Basketball Preview: Wake Forest

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The Tigers face the struggling Demon Deacons Sunday afternoon in a must win home game. This is what Wake brings to the table.

NCAA Basketball: Pittsburgh at Clemson Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

Where: Littlejohn Coliseum

When: Sunday, February 3, Noon

TV: ESPN U (The Ocho)

Wake Forest Demon Deacons

Current Record: 8-12

ACC Record: 1-7

Previous Game: 82-54 loss to Louisville

Head Coach: Danny Manning

Projected Starting Lineup

C - #30 - Oliver Sarr - 7’0, 235 - So - 5.9 PPG, 5.7 RPG

F - #10 - Jaylen Hoard - 6’8, 215 -Fr - 14.1 PPG, 8.1 RPG, 1.3 APG

G/SF - #23 - Chaundee Brown - 6’5, 215 - So - 10.5 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 1.2 APG

SG - #2 - Sharone Wright Jr. - 6’5, 180 - Fr - 7.1 PPG, 2.7 RPG

PG - #0 - Brandon Childress - 6’0, 190 - Jr - 16 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 4.2 APG

Key Reserves

C - #35 - Ikenna Smart - 6’10, 245 - Sr -14.5 MinPG, 2.7 PPG, 2.8 RPG,

F - #1 - Isaiah Mucius - 6’8, 190 - Fr - 22.3 MinPg, 7 PPG, 3.6 RPG

G - #20 - Michael Wynn - 6’6, 200 - Fr - 5.8 MinPG, 1.9 PPG

Offense

Starters

For any fans of 90s ACC basketball, do I have a treat for you. Wake Forest’s back court is a throw back with Brandon Childress (son of Randolph Childress) and Sharone Wright Jr. (son of Sharone Wright Sr.) leading the charge for the Demon Deacons.

Childress is Wake’s best player, and could pose a problem for the Clemson defense with his ability to to get to the rim, combined with his almost 40% 3 point shooting. Childress is probably the most under rated guard in the ACC, simply because he plays on a horrifically bad Wake team. Don’t let that fool you, Childress can ball, and he will be an issue for Shelton Mitchell. Clemson must stay attached to Childress, because he’s the only shooter on Wake. I expect the Tigers to play him tight and try and funnel him into the teeth of the defense. If you give him space, he will rise up and bury a 3 directly in your face. We need to make him shoot contested 2’s at the rim.

Wright is a springy, rail thin guard still trying to find his way in college basketball. He’s a guy you can dare to shoot the 3, because right now, he’s shooting it at 25%. Wright has put up some highlight dunks, and loves to get out in transition and attack the rim. He’s much easier to contain in the half court, but his height could give Clemson some issues, depending on the match up.

Chaundee Brown is similar to Wright. He is a young wing who is much better in transition than in the half court. The scouting report says to back off and let Brown shoot until he proves he can make one from deep. He’s currently 23/80 from 3 for a depressing 28.7%. If you leave him open, he’ll hoist one up, but the odds if dropping aren’t great. I expect Clemson to sag off Brown (and Wright) and make it hard for Wake to get anything at the rim from drives or post ups.

Speaking of post ups, the Deacs have a pair of Frenchmen leading the way in the front court. At 7’0, 235, Oliver Sarr is a developing player for Wake that probably needs another year before he even starts to scratch his potential. That said, he’s a big dude that can hit the glass. Eli will need to body him up and keep him off the offensive glass.

Jaylen Hoard (yes, he’s from France) is second on the Wake scouting report, and for good reason. Hoard was a one of the top players in the 2018 class, coming in at 5*s and #24 in the nation overall. Like most Wake players, he’s a long, skinny dude in need of a few milk shakes and hamburgers, but unlike the other Wake players, Hoard is highly skilled at putting the ball in the basket and pulling down rebound. Hoard will shoot an occasional 3 (he’s not very good at hitting them) but is a beast around the rim. Aamir Simms is going to have to be on his game or Hoard could pose a serious problem for the Tigers. This is the one match up that scares me when I look at the Wake roster.

Bench

Wake has some serious size at center, with 6’10, 245 senior Ikenna Smart coming off the bench, and essentially splitting minutes with Sarr. Wake Forest’s size could pose some issues for Elijah Thomas, and Thomas can’t get caught up with trying to body the Wake centers on defense and picking up cheap fouls. Smart is big, but he’s not particularly good at basketball. He picks up his points around the basket and is a surprisingly poor rebounder for a player of his size. As long as Elijah plays smart and doesn’t waste his fouls on a guy that’s not much of a scoring threat, Clemson will be fine.

Isaiah Mucius is a 4*, top 100 freshman out of New York that Wake would love to get going. He provides the Deacs with a solid offensive punch off the bench, but he’s incredibly thin at 6’8. He’s a guy that will come in looking to score, but isn’t particularly efficient. Like most Wake players, he thinks he can shoot from the outside, but the stats (28%) say otherwise. Virginia Tech goaded him into taking 7 3’s (he hit 2) and Clemson should be fine with a similar game plan. Keep him out of the lane and off the glass and we should be fine.

Back point guard Torry Smith has been out with a shoulder injury, leaving Wake with few answers at the guard position off the bench. Michael Wynn, yet another freshman on the Demon Deacon roster has soaked up most of Smith’s minutes, with Childress playing the iron man role at pg. Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but Wynn is a tall, skinny player who isn’t very good at shooting the ball from the outside. He doesn’t particularly worry me.

Defense

Wake is a bad defensive team. They currently sit at 310 (out of 353) in defensive rating this season, with even bad offensive tams having their way with Danny Manning’s squad.

In their last game, Louisville demolished them on the inside, with 59 of their 82 points coming from low post players. Louisville’s starting back court only accounted for 8 total points, and the Cardinals still won the game by 28 points.

Look for Clemson to attack the paint early and often with Elijah Thomas using his athleticism to work the Wake post players.

Depending on his mindset coming into the game, this should (and I stress should) be a game that Aamir Simms can dominate with his diverse skill set and size. Simms should be able to bully the slight Wake Forest defenders.

Finally, look for Marquise Reed to do his thing and torment the young Wake players with his crafty old man game, burying mid-range jumpers and sneaking through the defense.

Overall

Wake is bad and Clemson should win this game. If they don’t fall in love with the 3, and punish the young and skinny Wake team on the inside like everyone else, this thing shouldn’t be close....but you never know.

Prediction:

Drew: Clemson 87, Wake Forest 72

KenPom: Clemson 76, Wake Forest 63 (90%!)

Note:

If you find any mistakes in this article, please know that it was written under duress with my wife loudly sighing and slamming the vacuum into things to make her overall point about my inattention to house work. I will now attend to the guest bedroom before she kills me.

If you don’t hear from me again, just know that she has access to a biodigester and an incinerator.