The first job of most new head coaches is to assess the current roster and immediately attempt to keep any committed recruits from jumping ship.
While some coaches don’t pay as much attention to this as others, in the case of new Wake Forest head coach Jeff Bzdelik, keeping a top-10 recruiting class intact was the top priority.
The class, comprised of Tony Chennault, J.T. Terrell, Carson Desrosiers, Melvin Tabb, and Travis McKie, have all signed letters of intent and are bound to play for Wake next season, but they could have asked for their release with the recent firing of former head coach Dino Gaudio.
Assistant coaches Jeff Battle and Rusty Larue, both of whom were retained as assistants following Gaudio’s departure, worked quickly to ensure that all five recruits still intended to play for the Demon Deacons.
Joining Bzdelik on an impromptu tour of all five players over two days, the three coaches were able to reassure the recruits that the situation in Winston-Salem would still be the one they expected when they originally committed.
This was no doubt helped by the consistency of keeping Battle and Larue on as assistants.
Both Battle and Larue have ties to the local community, and Larue played for Wake Forest in both basketball and football before playing with Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls. Eventually, once his playing career was over, he returned to Winston-Salem to coach both college and then high school before taking the assistant job at Wake.
As the coaches were able to complete the quick tour to keep their solid recruiting class intact, they also have to look to how they are going to create a competitive team after losing their mainstay senior point guard in Ish Smith and their top scorer in Al-Farouq Aminu, who declared for the draft and is likely gone.
The coaches will need to find a way to win with the dominance of youthful talent on their roster, which is no small feat in the ACC.