November 10, 2011

Signing for success

Historical, bright, multiple national championships, those are just a few of the buzz words some of Wake Forest's 2012 recruiting class used to describe what it hopes bring to the "Tie Dye Nation," but one thing all its members have in common is that they are proud to be Demon Deacons.

Hargrave teammates Codi Miller-McIntyre and Andre Washington, and Aaron Rountree of Greenfield inked their way into the Demon Deacon basketball family and head coach [db]Jeff Bzdelik's second recruiting class at Wake Forest. After the previous season's 8-24 finish their arrivals will be warmly welcomed by him and his staff, as will those of verbal commitments Tyler Cavanaugh, Arnaud Adala Moto and Devin Thomas when they are listed as official Wake signees.

"I think we made great strides for our future success over the last several months," Bzdelik said in regard to the recruiting process for the 2012 class.

Only time will tell, but strides it seems Wake Forest has made in rebuilding its basketball program. The self-proclaimed "Super Six" believe this class will do more than rebuild, but construct an empire that puts the Demon Deacons among college basketball's elite.

"Everybody is looking at us to do big things," Washington said. "I plan on winning multiple national championships. That's my goal anyways."

Those are big words, but this is a big class and a deep one at that. Washington is an athletic 7-foot, 215-pound center; Thomas, a 6-foot-8 and 225-pound power forward with a strong inside game; Cavanaugh, a 6-foot-8 and 215-pound perimeter oriented power forward; Rountree, a lean 6-foot-9 and 190-pound versatile, Jamaal Levy-type player at small forward; Moto, a 6-foot-6 and 205-pound well-rounded small forward.

"I played against Devin (Rated as a three-star recruit by Rivals.com), and I've played Moto (Rated as a three-star recruit byRivals.com) too and I've played with him some at camps," Rountree (Rated as a three-star recruit by Rivals.com) said. "I've played with everybody except for Tyler (Rated as a three-star recruit by Rivals.com). I know everybody brings a level of intensity and different things to the table. Devin is a great rebounder, he runs the floor, he's so strong. Andre's 7-foot and most people in the world can't say that. He blocks shots, rebounds, has a soft touch and it's going to keep developing, and I think I'm a pretty versatile guy."

This group will add size and depth to a team that is in need of both, but it is the smallest member of this class, Miller-McIntyre, who is at the point of it. The 6-foot-1 and 185-pound four-star recruit (Rated as the nation's No. 15 point guard and No. 70 overall prospect by Rivals.com) brings stability and big-time talent to a position that has not had either one since Ishmael Smith played point guard for the Deacs.

"Codi is a freak," Rountree said. "He can bounce out of the gym, and he's explosive. Codi do everything."

Growing up less than a one and a half hour drive away from the Wake Forest campus the decision was not difficult for Miller-McIntyre, especially when the Deacs began to show interest.

"One day after school my coach called me, Coach Bzdelik, he called me and offered me a scholarship," Miller-McIntyre said. "At first I told him I can't accept it right now, because I have an unofficial visit to Clemson next Saturday, and I think this was on a Thursday. I told him I couldn't accept it at first, but an hour later I called him back and told him there's no point in me going to Clemson knowing that I wanted to be at Wake. Ever since they started recruiting me they were always number one no matter what."

For his high school teammate Washington (Rated as a three-star recruit by Rivals.com) Signing Day marked the end of a chapter and the beginning of a new one in his life.

"I just have to get this last season, win this national championship here at Hargrave, and then I'll be right at Wake," Washington said. "I'm excited. On our visit when we went to class and everything, we tried to imagine where we're going to be and like in practice."

This recruiting class should be a statement of security for Bzdelik, Wake Forest and its fan-base, as he is setting his fingerprints on the program by bringing in his players, especially talented ones who are eager to buy into system.

Wake underwent addition by subtraction since Bzdelik was hired, starting with Ari Stewart's transfer, Melvin Tabb's dismissal and J.T. Terrell's arrest and sudden departure. With the 2012 recruiting Bzdelik and his staff have reeled in an edition by addition.
It is obvious this group is special, but what makes it even more unique is its closeness and burning desire to play together.

"It's going to feel like an accomplishment, but it's just going to feel like waiting for a brother-in-law to come into your family when they're already proposed and engaged," Rountree said. "It's like waiting for them to finally get married, so you can call them your brothers truly. Now we're all brothers, even closer than we were before, because it's official now."

Rountree's analogy is an interesting one, but at the same time it works perfectly, because they will be married to Wake Forest for the next few years.

That marriage will have to be more than a faithful one, but one that meshes with the current Deacs and the ones to come if the future of Wake basketball is to be historically bright with multiple national championships. It will also have to be exceptionally good.


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