Danny Manning is trying to keep pace in a brutal ACC world. With the Wake Forest Demon Deacons rarely hanging in the same company with the conference’s royal hierarchy, Sunday might be looked at as the day some of that began to change, as top 2017 prospect Chaundee Brown committed to the program.
Wake Forest needed a jolt of some sort, and it needed one relatively quickly. The program hasn’t been to the NCAA Tournament since 2010, has only finished above .500 once in the last six years, and the first two years of the Manning era have been ho-hum at best.
The perception of the program was still trending in the wrong direction. Fair or not, casual fans either all but forgot the program even existed, or were remaining steadfast in their idea that it was one of little to no consequence.
Brown represents the complete opposite of that. He’s the sort of talent, a top-30 recruit according to ESPN, that isn’t meant to be obtainable for a Wake Forest or a Danny Manning — or, more specifically, a combination of the two. He doesn’t fit whatever narrative was about to be built this season if the Demon Deacons struggle to win on the hardwood.
Instead, he brings a new level of optimism to the program, even if that is only in the idea of what things can become.
Wake Forest’s 2017 class wasn’t exactly shaping up to be a world-beater. No better tomorrows were being promised by way of Manning’s recruiting trail success. Rather, he had only one commitment for 2017, and it only happened to be a mostly benign three-star talent.
All of that is a polite way of saying, in a roundabout way, that all things in Winston-Salem, North Carolina appeared to be heading in gloom and doom mode. Brown’s commitment, while singular, changes some of that.
It also buys Manning some more time. Who knows how long of a rope the athletic department would have provided him otherwise, but securing a talent such as Brown forces the university to be more lenient as far as evaluating the coach’s stay with the program through this point.
He’s going to be given a little bit more of the benefit of the doubt, and possibly even provided the luxury of having time allotted to him with a sprinkle of patience and understanding.
After all, top-30 players aren’t falling off trees and landing on random campuses these days. Wake Forest essentially needs to eat whatever “bad” might await this upcoming season for (only) the idea of what success Brown can bring with him.
As to why the Wake Forest faithful should be salivating over Brown, in terms outside just the amount of stars attached to his name: The guard is considered a dynamic athlete with a realistic chance to one day play in the NBA. Those, like top-tier recruits, aren’t coming around as often as we pretend.
While he will come to campus next season physically immature and somewhat flawed, as do all freshmen, he also brings with him a jumper ahead of his years, and a more than solid foundation-built basketball-IQ. Everything else we can discuss as far as his play is concerned is only in ideas of him, potential, and hyperbole — all of which will be welcomed “issues” for the Demon Deacons to tackle until he hits campus.
Does this mean Wake Forest is “back” in contention near the top of the ACC? Of course not. Not inherently so, and not even indirectly. But Brown’s commitment is a positive sign. A rare one for the program as of late, and the first earnest happy harbinger in a long time.