Wake Forest closed out non conference play in style vs the Cornell Big Red last night, the Deacs have been up and down this season but the new year may bring new fortunes.
Winston Salem, North Carolina- Wake played a complete team game on both ends, tie dye nation came out with a noticeable sense of urgency. There was a lot of hype around this freshmen class, and the versatility Wake could potentially boast this season.
Let’s examine some key takeaways that really set the tone for this contest.
- Jaylen Hoard Broke out
A lot of talk surrounded the youth of Wake Forest before this season, and that potential was on display last night.
Freshman forward Jaylen Hoard really came to life with a career high; 25 points,15 rebounds, and two assists, the home crowd was absolutely here for it. Hoard was aggressive in the paint where most of his damage was done, Hoard looked comfortable operating on the block, back to the basket. Hoard stayed active filling running lanes in transition, and these Wake Forest guards rewarded the athletic forward, Hoard was hyperactive on the boards, he showed nice bounce, strong hands and a nose for the ball
This was as promising a performance as you could want, from the five star frosh before league play starts in the gauntlet known as the ACC. On the year Hoard is averaging 14.5 ppg and seven rebounds. Considered a potential lottery pick in some circles, Hoard will need to keep that same energy for the rest of 2019.
2. Chaundee Brown/Sharone Wright perimeter scoring
Sophomore Chaundee Brown added 12 points, six rebounds, and two assists, Brown came in with the reputation of a shot maker. He looked smooth off the dribble, Brown created space for clean looks with ease. Brown looked efficient from mid range especially, he found shots within the offense and made them count. Brown has been a consistent scoring option for majority of the season, this marked his seventh straight game scoring in double digits.
Freshman Sharone Wright Jr finished with 11 points off the bench, Wright is another Wing that came in with the rep as a proven scorer in the prep ranks. Wright has the arsenal to provide instant offense off the pine, and he has shown flashes scoring in double figures five times on the year.
Wright looked comfortable from the perimeter last night, Wright moves well off ball and possess a quick fluid jumper. On catch and shoot opportunities Wright carved out space and wasn’t trigger shy, this group will need him to continue to provide energy with this second group.
3. Brandon Childress may be the most underrated PG in the ACC
A True floor general and leader on both ends for this group, Childress owned the game tempo and orchestrated this offense to a tee. Childress leads the team in scoring and assists, he is averaging 16.5 ppg (9th in ACC), 4.3 assists (5th in ACC), and 3.4 rebounds on the season.
Childress stuffed the stat sheet once again last night, he totaled 14 pts, five assists, and six rebounds. Childress played 33 minutes of a total 40, he balanced the decision making of finding his own offense and getting teammates into spots for easy looks. Childress is arguably the best shooter on the team, he’s knocking the three ball down at 43 percent a clip. Childress isn’t afraid to take the big shot but he’s also extremely smart with selection. Childress was considered more of a pass first point guard in the past he’s a maestro in the pick N roll, but with so much production to replace from a year ago, Childress was forced to up his scoring totals. Childress and his leadership will continue to be vital throughout conference play.
4. It was a Nice Homecoming for Matt Morgan
Cornell Senior guard Matt Morgan is a native of Concord and alumnus of Cox Mill HS, so this game was less than 90 minutes from his hometown it had to feel like a homecoming of sorts. Morgan and the Big Red didn’t get the win but he definitely garnered some big respect.
Morgan lit Wake Forest up for a smooth 22 points on the night, Morgan is an absolute sniper from deep with a quick trigger and a short memory. Morgan also converted some difficult drives at the basket, he proved capable of finishing through contact at the cup. On the year Morgan is averaging 23.3 ppg which puts him at 13th in the nation. Morgan is absolutely one of the best players in all of college basketball and he’s got the numbers to support it.
The Skinny– Overall it was a great team defensive effort for Wake, they held the Big Red to 28 percent shooting in the first half. This was the confidence boost this group needed heading into a what feels like a must win conference opener with Ga Tech (8-5,0-0). If this team can play up to their ceiling, they have enough talent to make some noise in the ACC and possibility lock up a spot to the big dance.