Nobody was surprised when Al-Farouq Aminu left Wake for NBA, but the same cannot be said of head coach Dino Gaudio getting fired. Under Gaudio, the Demon Deacons had reached the NCAA Tournament each of the past two years but failed to get past the opening weekend, which ultimately led to his dismissal.
Jeff Bzdelik replaces Gaudio after three underwhelming years at Colorado in which the Buffs twice finished last in the Big 12. Bzdelik faces the challenge of replacing Aminu and three other starters who were four of Wake's top six scorers last season.
Top returning scorer C.J. Harris figures to take over the point guard responsibilities from Ishmael Smith. Who will join him in the backcourt is a bit of a question mark and concern. Like Harris, Ari Stewart had an impressive first season with the Demon Deacons and will have a larger role this season. He should be flanked by freshman Travis McKie at the forward spot. On paper, size will once again be a strength for Wake with 6-11 Tony Woods, 7-0 Ty Walker and 7-0 Carson Desrosiers. Georgetown transfer Nikita Mescheriakiov becomes eligible after the first semester and will add even more depth up front.
Youth will be served for Bzdelik and Wake this season, so you can expect plenty of bumps along the road. But if everything goes according to plan, the reloading effort should not be a long one at Wake.
Player to Watch: Tony Woods, C
To say Woods has underachieved in his first two years at Wake Forest is like saying Ryan from The Real World: New Orleans is a bit dramatic. The highly recruited 6-11 center has yet to make much of an impression on the floor averaging less than four points and three boards a game during his first two seasons. NBA scouts and Demon Deacon fans are waiting for him to break out and become a force down low on both ends of the floor. This is a young Wake team, and Woods has to make a major jump as an upperclassman if the Demon Deacons are going to have any chance of being competitive this year.
(UPDATE: Woods has been suspended indefinitely after being arrested for assaulting his baby's mama.)