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Revitalized Wake Forest visits NC State on Wednesday night

The Deacs look like they’re NCAA tournament-bound.

NCAA Basketball: Wake Forest at Florida State Melina Myers-USA TODAY Sports

Wake Forest is one of the most impressive turnaround stories of the season, going from 6-16 (3-15) last year to 19-5 (9-4) in 2022, putting the Deacs in position to make the NCAAs for the first time since 2017.

Improvement like that is tough to author without a Kentucky-esque recruiting class, which at this point stands a little beyond Steve Forbes’ capacity. So he hit the transfer portal hard last offseason, and that has paid huge dividends. Three of this team’s starters, and its top two scorers, were playing elsewhere last season.

2021-22 Demon Deacons

... Adj OE/DE (rk) eFG% TO% OR% FTR
... Adj OE/DE (rk) eFG% TO% OR% FTR
Offense 110.8 (46) 55.9 (14) 19.2 (213) 27.0 (225) 33.6 (89)
Defense 95.6 (51) 46.0 (33) 17.7 (236) 27.4 (136) 26.9 (97)

Of course, it also helps to be lucky. After a couple of modest seasons at Oklahoma, Alondes Williams has leveled up his production at Wake in a huge way. I rather doubt that Forbes thought he was getting a guy who would average 19.8 points, seven boards, and five dimes per game, but that’s what he got—and having arguably the league’s best player sure does make a difference!

Williams is impressive in his versatility: he’s shooting nearly 61% inside the arc, he gets to the line plenty, and he ranks 50th nationally in assist rate. He’s shooting a career-best 31.6% from three, which is helping to open things up for him as well. He gives Wake a little bit of everything.

Forward Jake Laravia (15.1 PPG) has also upped his game since transferring, maybe because he’s more comfortable in a secondary role. But while he doesn’t carry Williams’ workload, he’s been really valuable as well. He’s shooting 65.8% inside the arc and 38.8% from three (49 attempts). He gets to the line frequently, he’s good on the offensive glass, and he’s not a bad shot blocker, either.

Guard Davien Williamson, who began his career with Forbes at ETSU, is also scoring in double-figures this season while shooting a career-high 41.1% from three. Isaiah Mucius has been solid all season as well, and center Dallas Walton gives the Deacs rim protection with efficient spot scoring.

There’s a lot to like about Wake’s starting five, and together those guys have produced one of the most accurate two-point shooting teams in the country. NC State’s interior defense has been somewhat absent this year, so uh, yeah. We’ll hope for the best.

KenPom has Wake by four.