On June 24, 2010, the Los Angeles Clippers called Al-Farouq Aminu’s name as the eighth pick of the NBA Draft. Aminu became the third Wake Forest player to go in the first round in two years, following James Johnson (No. 16) and Jeff Teague (No. 18) in 2009. The only other ACC program at the time that produced more than one first-rounder during those two seasons was UNC (four).
Little did Wake Forest observers know at that point that the wheels had already come off. That April, Wake Forest fired coach Dino Gaudio and hired Jeff Bzdelik. The program — and the talent that it was recruiting — began to slide. The Deacons haven’t had a player sniff the NBA Draft since that night.
That means last Thursday marked the sixth straight draft without a Deacon hearing his name called. Since Rod Griffin went in the first round in 1978, the Deacons had never had more than a four-year gap (1988-1991 and 1998-2001). Rusty LaRue, although undrafted, played in the NBA during the second span.
The Deacons are actually well represented in the NBA right now, boasting six players (adding Tim Duncan, Chris Paul and undrafted Ish Smith to Aminu, Teague and Johnson). But the question remaining: Can Danny Manning attract that kind of talent to the program again?
Manning is certainly making the effort. Since arriving on campus, he’s consistently recruited the top players in each class — something that hasn’t always been done at Wake Forest.
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