Cameron Hildreth, Wake Forest Demon Deacons

Steve Forbes has built a consistent program in the Wake Forest Demon Deacons, but they’re looking to take the next step this season.


As is tradition, CBB Review is again ranking the top 100 teams heading into the new college basketball season. Each day, we will reveal the next team until we reach the team slotted at number one. Follow along with #CBBRank on all our social media channels.

Wake Forest, once home of Muggsy Bogues, Tim Duncan, and Chris Paul, fell into a state of basketball purgatory after the sudden death of head coach Skip Prosser in 2007. Coaches Jeff Bzdelik and Danny Manning couldn’t make their mark on the program after the Demon Deacons fired Dino Gaudio following a 20-11 mark in 2009-10. (Neither Bzdelik nor Manning ever recorded a 20-win season in their tenures.) However, after letting go of Manning, the athletic department brought in Steve Forbes from ETSU. Forbes has produced more success in his first three seasons than Bzdelik and Manning combined, compiling a 44-23 record over the past two years. 

Last year, the team had a winning record at 19-13 but did take a step back from 2021’s 25-10 mark. However, Steve Forbes’s 4th year at the helm could be his best yet. 3 double-digit scorers return from last year’s squad, while another was added in the portal, along with 2 former Gonzaga Bulldogs looking for a fresh start across the country. 

Despite the loss of star guard Tyree Appleby and forward Bobi Klintman, the Demon Deacons are in good shape entering the 2023-24 season. The ACC had a bit of a down year this past season, Wake included, at least compared to the previous season. (Miami did make the Final Four, however.) As the ACC reloads, so does Wake Forest. With 4 projected starters coming from last year’s roster, team continuity is strong. 

Non-conference games against Georgia, Florida, and Rutgers should be good litmus tests for how the season will shape up. Returnees Damari Monsanto, Cameron Hildreth, Andrew Carr, and Matthew Marsh should all be major contributors, but guard Jao Ituka will miss 4-6 months with an injury. In the portal, the two aforementioned former Zags are Hunter Sallis and Efton Reid, who should both get significant minutes. The performance of Sallis will be crucial to the backcourt, who, as mentioned, has lost Jao Ituka to injury. 

Other transfers include Kevin Miller from Central Michigan, a guard who is a more than capable scorer but has dealt with injuries, and Abramo Canka, a lengthy international guard who played sparingly in his freshman year with UCLA. Neither will likely start but should provide much-needed depth and have very high ceilings. 

Steve Forbes brought in the 51st-ranked freshman class this season, but it’s better than the ranking suggests. Guards Parker Friedrichsen and Aaron Clark should see around 5-6 MPG this year but could get more if the backcourt depth is tested. Clark especially has the length to guard D1 guards on the perimeter. Wing Marqus Marion from Denmark is an intriguing pickup, and was the highest-ranked Danish prospect, according to 247Sports. Between Carr, Marsh, and Reid, his minutes may be limited but his ceiling is very high. 

Forbes has done a fantastic job adjusting to the modern college basketball world, and his roster this year is proof. The Demon Deacons have 4 players with international footprints, and Forbes isn’t slowing down on that front, bringing in 2 this season. (Abramo Canka and Marqus Marion.)

Click here to learn more about our preseason top 100 teams heading into the 2023-24 college basketball season.

Head coach: Steve Forbes (13th season, 4th at Wake Forest)

2022-23 record: 19-13 (10-10)

2023 postseason finish: None

Notable departures: Tyree Appleby (Graduated), Daivien Williamson (Graduated), Bobi Klintman (Pro)

Notable non-conference games: at Georgia (Nov. 10), vs. Florida (Nov. 29), vs. Rutgers (Dec. 6)

Projected Rotation

PG: Cameron Hildreth (6-4, 195, Jr.)

2022-23 stats: 12.4 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 2.8 RPG, 1.2 SPG 

SG: Hunter Sallis (6-5, 185, Jr.)

2022-23 stats: 4.5 PPG, 2.2 RPG, 1.4 APG (Gonzaga)

SF: Damari Monsanto (6-6, 225, R-Sr.)

2022-23 stats: 13.3 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 0.6 APG, 40.5 3P%

PF: Andrew Carr (6-10, 220, Sr.)

2022-23 stats: 10.7 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 1.2 APG

C: Matthew Marsh (7-1, 250, Jr.)

2022-23 stats: 6.1 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 0.3 APG, 88.3 FG%

6: Kevin Miller (6-0, 175, Rs.-So.)

2022-23 stats: 18.5 PPG, 5.3 APG, 3.8 RPG, 4 games played (Central Michigan)

7: Zach Keller (6-10, 228, So.)

2022-23 stats: 2.3 PPG, 1.5 RPG, 0.2 APG, 10.6 MPG

8: Efton Reid III (7-0, 240, Jr.)

2022-23 stats: 2.1 PPG, 1.0 RPG, 0.1 APG, 4.7 MPG (Gonzaga)

9: Abramo Canka (6-6, 200, So.)

2022-23 stats: 1.5 PPG, 0.7 RPG, 0.2 APG, 5.5 MPG (UCLA)

10: Aaron Clark (6-4, 195, Fr.)

247Sports Composite No. 164 rated player

11: Parker Friedrichsen (6-3, 195, Fr.)

247Sports Composite No. 93 rated player

12: Marqus Marion (6-8, 210, Fr.)

247Sports Composite No. 213 rated player

Wake Forest Demon Deacons MVP: Damari Monsanto

Damari Monsanto, recruited to ETSU by then-coach Steve Forbes followed him to Wake in the 2021-22 season and has improved across almost all statistical categories since then. Entering his third season at Wake, he should start at the small forward position to form a solid backcourt duo with Gonzaga transfer Hunter Sallis and returnee Cameron Hildreth. An excellent shooter, his 40.5% mark from behind the arc placed him 2nd in the ACC among qualified players. At 6-6, 225, Monsanto has the length to take any guard assignment on the defensive end as well. 

Monsanto placed high in the conference last year in multiple stat categories, ranking 4th in the ACC in offensive box plus/minus, as well as a turnover percentage and steal percentage that ranked in the top 20. Anytime a team has a backcourt player capable of taking the ball away from the other team at a high rate while keeping care of the ball on the other end of the court, they’re going to be a valuable piece in the rotation. 

Wake Forest Demon Deacons make-or-break player: Hunter Sallis

Hunter Sallis, transferring in from Gonzaga, should be an immediate contributor in the Wake Forest Demon Deacons backcourt. Never quite finding his niche in the Pacific Northwest, a change in scenery will likely benefit the high-potential guard. Able to play point, he will still likely play any position from the 1-3 this season as Steve Forbes figures out the best possible rotation of players. A stout defender and great athlete, Sallis will be crucial to the Demon Deacons’ success this year. 

That being said, Sallis did not find an expansive role while at Gonzaga. Averaging 13.6 MPG his freshman year and 16.7 MPG as a sophomore, his efficiency dipped this past season as he shot just 25.6% from three and his FG% dropped from 56.4% to 46.6%. His box plus/minus dropped from 4.1 his freshman year to 2.4 as a sophomore. However, a change of scenery should benefit the guard, who still has the potential he flashed as the no. 10 prospect in the class of 2021. Especially with the injury to Jao Ituka, the Demon Deacons need Sallis to tap into his potential this season. 

Key analytic: 3PM per game

The exciting Steve Forbes offense was rated the 66th-fastest tempo in the nation according to KenPom, and they took their share of threes last season. That volume, combined with the shooting ability of the backcourt, led to 9.5 threes made per game last season, good for 14th in the nation out of 363 teams. While the team leader in 3PM, Damari Monsanto, returns, the Demon Deacons do lose four of their top six leading shooters from behind the arc. 

This is where the health of Kevin Miller becomes crucial. If the Central Michigan transfer can stay on the court, his career 36.1% from behind the mark could alleviate the void left by Tyree Appleby, Daivien Williamson, and Bobi Klintman. Monsanto is a solid bet to hit threes consistently, but no other returning player hit above a 33% mark from three last season. Cameron Hildreth and Hunter Sallis haven’t been shown to be reliable shooters from behind the arc, nor has Andrew Carr. UCLA transfer Abramo Canka could help fill in, but his sample size last season (5-10 from three) is too small to make any assumptions. Freshmen Aaron Clark and Parker Friedrichsen will be given minutes if either of them shows they can consistently hit threes. 

Ultimately, Wake’s roster has enough talent to not rely on the deep ball if they aren’t hitting it consistently, as Carr, Marsh, and Reid can all score down low. However, the possible schematic change might take some growing pains, if Forbes does decide to go down a different offensive route this season. The Demon Deacons most likely will not finish in the top 20 in 3PM per game again this season, but they likely won’t take as many either. Still, a top 100 or even top 50 showing is possible, especially with Monsanto on the roster. 

Wake Forest Demon Deacons 2023-24 projections

Projected conference finish: 6th in the ACC

Projected postseason ceiling: NCAA Tournament – Sweet 16 Exit

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