Monday, June 15, 2009

Wake's Gaudio supports Teague's NBA leap

Wake Forest coach Dino Gaudio and assistant Jeff Battle met with point guard Jeff Teague and his family in Indianapolis on Sunday night to discuss the plusses and minuses of leaving his name in the NBA draft.

Gaudio said he had "an inkling" when he left about what the sophomore would do. And at around 3:15 p.m. today, the player made it official.

"He called, and told me he was going to leave his name in,'' Gaudio said in a phone interview today. "And I said, 'Congratulations.' He's following a dream that he's had since he first started bouncing a basketball."

Gaudio said he fully supports Teague, a second-team All-ACC selection last season who is projected to be a first-round draft pick on June 25. He joins Demon Deacons teammates James Johnson as an NBA early entrant this season, meaning Wake loses its top two scorers. Teague averaged 18.8 points per game.

Still, "I'm really excited about coaching this team,'' Gaudio said. "We've got a lot of veteran players coming back."

One key to the team's success will be forward Al-Farouq Aminu, last season's third-leading scorer. Wake also returns senior guard L.D. Williams and senior forwards Chas McFarland and David Weaver.

And unlike other teams in the league who are losing their star ballhandlers, Wake has a proven replacement: senior guard Ish Smith, who averaged 6.2 points off the bench after being sidelined at the beginning of the season with a foot injury. He started every game at point guard as a sophomore.

"I don't know if there was a more improved player last season,'' Gaudio said of Smith. "After he came back from his injury, he just got better and better."

Gaudio said he will miss Teague, but I told him, "no matter what, I will always be your coach,'' he said. "I'm excited for him."

-- Robbi Pickeral