Wake Forest Basketball: The 10 Best Players in Demon Deacon History
From the early days of playing in Gore Gymnasium in Wake Forest, N.C., to the Joel Coliseum in Winston-Salem, Wake Forest University has a long and storied tradition in basketball. With legendary coaches such as Bones McKinney and Skip Prosser, which I'm sure I'll examine in a later article, and a strong history of success with six Elite Eight appearances, Wake is well known for being able to put out a great team year in and year out.
This is the first part in what will be a series of articles that I will write about the best parts of Wake Forest basketball tradition. To begin, I thought it would be fitting to study the ten best players that ever donned the old gold and black.
With 10 retired numbers and numerous players who were amazing but did not earn that honor, this is a daunting task, and some great players must be left off the list. I truly apologize to anyone that may be offended by being left off the list and would like to remind everyone that these rankings are solely my opinion.
Here are some players who had fantastic careers, but unfortunately, just barely missed the cut:
Now that I've got that out of the way, let's begin, shall we?
10. Rodney Rogers
Rodney Rogers, the ACC Player of the Year in 1993, was known as a force to be reckoned with in the post. With a career average of 19.3 points and 7.9 rebounds over his years at the school, Rogers was a member of three straight NCAA tournament teams and was able to lead Wake to the Sweet 16 his senior year, their first appearance at that level since 1984.
Recently, Rogers was in an ATV accident that has left him paralyzed. In response, he founded the Rodney Rogers Foundation to assist others that have been paralyzed. Here is a link to the site in case you want more information:
9. Josh Howard
Some home grown talent, from Kernersville, NC, Josh Howard was a dominant player on both ends of the court. With career totals of 1,765 points, 836 rebounds, 215 steals, 239 assists and 143 blocks, Howard was able to dominate opposing defenses while still being able to hold back the other team on defense.
Among other accomplishments, Howard earned AP All-American honors along with ACC Player of the Year in 2003 and was able to facilitate the transition from Dave Odom's coaching days to those of Skip Prosser. His senior year, 2003, was also the most recent time that Wake Forest was the ACC regular season champion.
8. Rod Griffin
Rod Griffin was another dominant forward at Wake Forest, a two-time All-American who finished his career with 18.6 and 8.9 averages in points and rebounds respectively. During his senior year, he led the team to the 1977 NCAA Regional Finals, which was the first time Wake had made it that far since 1962.
Griffin also had a reputation as a lights-out shooter, as he still holds the record for highest field goal percentage at 62.1 percent. That's not a misprint, either. He really was that good.
7. Randolph Childress
Randolph Childress is a legend at Wake and has even agreed to return as an assistant coach in the coming season. An All-American, Childress is probably best known for his performance in the 1995 ACC Tournament. In the tournament, he averaged 36 points and seven assists en route to a spectacular overtime win over a heavily favored UNC squad, 82-80, in which he hit the go ahead shot.
Childress was a great shooter, finishing second all-time in Wake Forest scoring, with over 2,200 career points. His No. 22 jersey was later retired by Wake in his honor.
6. Chris Paul
Chris Paul, or "CP3," was another homegrown talent coming from Lewisville, NC, a suburb of Winston-Salem. While he is the only player on this list to have not graduated from Wake Forest, yet, it is beyond doubt the impact that he had while playing for the Demon Deacons. He had almost 1000 points and over 300 assists in his two years at Wake, and if he had stayed, he would probably be one of the top two players to go through the school.
Paul is still a huge celebrity at Wake, and students still talk about how they caught a glimpse of him once at a football game or on campus.
5. Tyrone "Muggsy" Bogues
Career leader in both assists and steals, much could be said about Muggsy Bogues determination and grit. Despite his lack in size (he was only 5'3"), Muggsy was known for his unselfishness with the ball, defense and speed. He is currently the only Wake Forest player to have his number retired without first winning ACC Player of the Year.
4. Charlie Davis
Charlie Davis was a trailblazer at Wake Forest. He was the first African-American player to win the ACC Player of the Year award, and he certainly earned it. With a career scoring average of almost 25 points per game, Davis took control of games offensively for the Deacs.
While he, unfortunately, played during a down time during Wake Forest's basketball years, he was the bright spot on an otherwise bad series of squads. He earned All-American honors his senior year in 1971 despite being on a Wake team with a mediocre 16-10 record. Charlie Davis truly was one of the best players to ever go to Wake Forest.
3. Len Chappell
Len Chappell had a great career for Wake, not only statistically but also in the wins category. Playing for legendary coach Bones McKinney, Chappell was on Wake Forest's sole Final Four team in 1962. His statistics were also more than just stellar, as he became the second Demon Deacon to break 2,000 points and 1,000 rebounds.
With over 2,100 points and 1,200 rebounds, Len Chappell was a nightmare for opposing players and created mismatches that allowed for the Demon Deacons to win many games during his career. He made the Elite Eight as a junior and the Final Four as a senior, which, when looked at with his All-American status in both of those years, makes a very convincing argument for him possibly being the best player in Wake Forest history.
However, to see why he isn't, one must simply go to the next slide to see another statistical monster who played at forward just a few years before Chappell came through.
2. Dickie Hemric
Dickie Hemric was a stellar player and one of the best players of his era in college basketball. Only the third player in NCAA history to score over 2,000 points and have over 1,000 rebounds, Hemric finished his career with 2,587 points and 1,802 rebounds. He still holds the Wake Forest record for most points scored in a career, and his rebound record in unlikely to ever be touched.
His accolades include being the first two-time winner of ACC Player of the Year to go along with back-to-back All-American honors. So, if he was so dominant, why isn't he No. 1? The answer is, he never won a national player of the year award, unlike the No. 1 Wake Forest basketball player of all-time.
If you haven't guessed already, I know the tension must be building, so I'll get on with it. The best player in the entire over 100-year history of Wake Forest Demon Deacon men's basketball is...
1. Tim Duncan
Tim Duncan is the only Wake Forest player to have won the Naismith award, and if it hadn't been for getting the flu, he could have quite possibly led Wake to a national championship in 1996.
He stayed for all four years and earned a degree in psychology despite the fact that he would have been a lottery pick after his third year. When he left, his career stats were over 1,500 points, 1,000 rebounds, 400 blocked shots and 200 assists, making him the first player in NCAA history to do so.
Duncan was also the first pick in the 1997 NBA Draft, is an NBA MVP, a four-time NBA Champion and still plays for the San Antonio Spurs. His No. 21 was retired by Wake, and you can find many replicas of his Wake Forest 21 jersey for sale in various stores.
Overall, Wake Forest has had a great tradition of basketball, and Demon Deacon fans from all over, myself included, know that it will only be a matter of time before this list will change once again. Until then, Go Deacs!