Wake Forest Ranked No. 24 in Preseason Coaches Poll
Oct. 30, 2008
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. - The preseason recognition keeps rolling in for this year's Wake Forest men's basketball squad. The Demon Deacons are ranked No. 24 in the ESPN/USA Today Preseason Coaches Poll.
Wake Forest, one of four ACC teams in the top 25, received 129 points in the poll. The Deacons were just one point behind defending national champion Kansas for 23rd.
This marks the first time since 2005 that Wake has been ranked in the preseason top 25. The Deacons have been out of the top 25 since early January of 2006.
Wake Forest has received its fair share of recognition so far this preseason. The Deacons were picked to finish third in the ACC at last weekend's conference media day in Atlanta. Wake has also been in the preseason top 25 in a number of publications, including a No. 15 national ranking by the ACC Basketball Handbook.
With all five starters returning and a highly-rated freshmen class, Wake Forest is expected by many to be a staple in the national rankings this season. The Deacs, with 11 letterwinners returning, welcome back over 97 percent of last year's production in every significant statistical category, including each of the team's top nine scorers.
Sophomores James Johnson and Jeff Teague highlight the list of returnees for the Deacs. Johnson was a third team All-ACC pick and runner-up for ACC Rookie of the Year last season. Both he and Teague, the Deacs' two leading scorers, were selected to the ACC All-Freshman Team.
Veteran point guard Ishmael Smith also returns to run the show for Wake, along with junior swingman L.D. Williams--the Deacons' top lockdown defender. Junior center Chas McFarland, statistically the ACC's most improved player last season, returns to patrol the paint for Wake.
Off the bench, the Deacons have senior guard Harvey Hale who is the team's most experienced player. Junior center David Weaver, who won the team's defensive award last season, is back, along with sophomore shooting guard Gary Clark.
Second-year head coach Dino Gaudio also welcomes three freshmen who were collectively ranked among the nation's best recruiting classes. Forward Al-Farouq Aminu was recently tabbed as the Preseason ACC Rookie of the Year. Centers Tony Woods and Ty Walker were also highly-rated prospects that should contribute in the front court.
ACC rival North Carolina is ranked as the preseason No. 1 in the coaches poll for the second straight season. A Final Four participant last season, the Tar Heels were a unanimous choice for the top selection.
Duke and Miami joined Wake and UNC in the preseason top 25. The Blue Devils are ranked No. 5, while the Hurricanes come in at No. 16. Virginia Tech and Clemson each received votes in the poll.
The Associated Press Top 25 Poll is expected to be released on Friday. The last time Wake was in the preseason AP Poll was in 2005 when the Deacs were No. 18.
Wake Forest plays its only exhibition contest on Thursday, Nov. 6, against Mount Olive. The Deacs open the regular season on Friday, Nov. 14, against North Carolina Central.