In his column about ACC Tipoff yesterday, David Thompson of the Fayetteville Observer mentioned how bad last season was for the ACC and wondered if this year would be better.
We in turn mentioned the difficulties everyone faced last year due to Covid and how that affected, well, everyone.
Things will be different this year and one thing to keep an eye on is the rise of Wake Forest.
Steve Forbes, as we said when he took the job, would be able to rebuild in a hurry with grad transfers and then the whole revolution of what is essentially free-agent transfers hit and he’s worked that too.
Not much is left from last year but Carter Whitt is a talented guard and Forbes essentially overhauled the roster. He says now he has ACC-level talent and he’s been recruiting at a higher level.
Tuesday won't hurt in that regard: Forbes picked up a commitment from 4-star forward Zach Keller. Here’s what analyst Brandon Jennings said about Keller: “Keller is a hard-playing power forward prospect who gets off the floor well and shows a solid foundation of skill within his game. Offensively, he diversifies his game with his physical activity on the offensive glass to score off of clean-up buckets while also having the touch to step out and knock down the long ball. He adds value as a vertical athlete who will explode off the floor to protect the rim in an intriguing fashion or to corral a rebound on both ends. The question mark within his game is his durability, however, when healthy, Keller plays with a high motor and does not require a certain amount of touches to have an effect on a game.”
Here’s the thing about the ACC that a lot of people miss when they look at one year to the next: the desire to compete at a high level is endless. Virginia Tech sucked for a long time and then got Buzz Williams and Mike Young. Miami persuaded Jim Larranaga to give their program a pulse after essentially flatlining. Clemson came very close to rolling the dice on Will Wade a few years ago.
And while Wake struggled with Jeff Bzdelik (who went on to become a superb NBA assistant coach) and Danny Manning (now a Maryland assistant), Forbes seems to know what he’s doing. Moreover, he is as well-suited to the current environment as anyone.
So keep an eye on the Deacs. Forbes is bringing that program back in a hurry and is very likely to make some noise this year and by next year, a good bit more.