Wake Forest

The Acc

November 18, 2005|By PAUL MCMULLEN

Coach: Skip Prosser, fifth season at school (94-35), 13th overall (259-113)

2004-05 record: 27-6, 13-3 (second in ACC; NCAA second round)

Returning starters: Senior G Justin Gray, senior C Eric Williams

Sun prediction: NCAA Sweet 16

Why it will happen: They don't have the notoriety of Duke's duo, but Gray and Williams would be considered the premier outside-inside combination in any other conference. For all of the attention paid Chris Paul, Gray was a first-team All-ACC selection as a sophomore, and averaged 16.0 points last season. His return to the point included a summer stint at the under-21 world championships, where he got the ball to Redick and Rudy Gay. Williams is a load, a 280-pound player with a .581 career field-goal percentage, and must get the ball more. Swingman Trent Strickland, 6-11 Kyle Visser and 6-9 forward Chris Ellis should step up after proving themselves as role players.

Why it might not: Paul, the No. 4 pick in the NBA draft, wasn't the only personnel loss the Demon Deacons suffered. Taron Downey, Jamaal Levy and Vytas Danelius were part of a senior class that won 94 games. Prosser has created a more vibrant atmosphere in Winston-Salem. He's taken three teams to the NCAAs, but never gotten to the Sweet 16.

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