Deacons Reel in Super-Sized Class

DeaconSports goes more in-depth on Wake Forest's final recruiting efforts of 2002. Wake latest freshman class for men's basketball has five new players including four North Carolinians.

Skip Prosser and his coaching staff picked up five quality prospects in their first full recruiting season at Wake Forest this past year. Four North Carolina natives, Eric Williams, Trent Strickland, Richard Joyce, and Justin Gray, and one Georgia product, Chris Ellis, all signed with the Demon Deacon program.

Standing 6-9 and weighing in at 285 pounds, Williams is the most highly touted of the five-man recruiting class. A McDonald's All-American, Williams averaged 28 points, 13 boards, and three blocked shots per game this past season under Coach Chuck Hess at Wake Forest-Rolesville. Williams finished as the leading rebounder and the second leading scorer in Wake Forest-Rolesville history. He chose Wake Forest over N.C. State, Clemson, Kentucky, and Cincinnati.

Joining Williams in the frontcourt out of the high school class of 2002 is 6-6 power forward Chris Ellis, a Marietta, Georgia product. The son of NBA great Dale Ellis, Chris Ellis fell in love with Wake Forest on his official visit to the University in September 2001. Ellis, a player who is expected to sure-up the Demon Deacon frontcourt in 2002-2003, is expected to see lots of action this season as a true freshman. Ellis chose Wake over Alabama and Georgia.

Trent Strickland, originally a native of East Flat Rock, North Carolina, joined the recruiting class at the small forward position. Strickland, listed at 6-5 and 195 pounds, will be one of the better athletes on Wake Forest's team in 2002-2003. Recruiting analyst Dave Telep listed Strickland as the 12th best small forward out of the high school class of 2002. Strickland is a fierce competitor who loves to hustle and play handcuffing defense. While Strickland still has to improve his jump shot, he has loads of potential.

At the two-guard, Wake Forest received an early commitment from another North Carolina product, 6-5 Richard Joyce, a native of Mt. Airy. Joyce committed to Wake Forest in August 2000 before heading into his junior season at Mount Airy High School. After his junior season, Joyce transferred to Oak Hill Academy to play basketball with one of the top high school teams in the nation under the tutelage of Steve Smith. Playing against some of the top high school talent in the nation everyday in practice at Oak Hill and playing in big-time games, Joyce improved his game even more while at Oak Hill and is expected to make big contributions down the road as a Deacon.

Justin Gray, a Charlotte resident, played his high school ball alongside Richard Joyce last season at Oak Hill Academy. Gray is a mix between a point guard and a shooting guard, but will be called upon for point guard duties this season. Although Gray began his high school career as a shooting guard at West Charlotte in the Queen City and continued as a shooting guard after transferring to Oak Hill for his junior season, he took over the point guard duties for the Warriors of Oak Hill as a senior.

In Coach Prosser's first year full year on the recruiting trail, Prosser and his coaching staff picked up five quality prospects. While they will not be All-Americans this season, look for all five to see significant minutes for a young Deacon team this year.

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