WINSTON-SALEM — Danny Manning said he wasn’t surprised that Wake Forest juniors Doral Moore and Bryant Crawford were passed over in last week’s NBA draft. And the Deacons’ coach wasn’t exactly sympathetic to his former players’ fate when asked about them Thursday.
“That’s their journey. That’s what they chose to do,” Manning said of the two undrafted free agents. “You’ve got to deal with it and make it work.
“I want what’s best for them. We love them. We care for them, but that’s their path now and they’ve got to go out there and make it work. That’s just the reality of it.”
Moore, a 7-foot-1, 280-pound center, had a breakout season in 2017-18, averaging 11.1 points and ranking third in the ACC at 9.4 rebounds per game.
Crawford, a 6-3 combo guard who started all three of his years at Wake, was an honorable mention All-ACC selection after averaging 16.9 points and 4.9 assists per game.
Although both players had individual workouts with multiple NBA teams, neither was among those invited to the league’s predraft scouting combine this spring. That was one of the multiple signs that led Manning to believe both players would be making a mistake by giving up their final year of college eligibility to remain in the draft.
“There are a lot of different things you can predict and you can’t predict,” the fifth-year coach, who was the first player selected in the 1988 draft. “There were some indications that they might not get drafted, but you never know going into workouts and what teams need. But like I said that’s their journey. Something will work out for them.”
Moore has signed a free agent contract with the Washington Wizards and will try to earn a spot in their preseason camp through his play on the team’s summer league squad. Crawford has yet to catch on with an NBA team.
It is likely that both will be forced to take the indirect route to the NBA by playing professionally in either the G-League or overseas next season.
Manning said that both players would have benefitted from returning to school for one more year, both from a basketball and academic standpoint. But he added that Moore and Crawford were hardly unique in their decisions to give up their scholarships and leave so close to earning their college degrees.
“These guys, they just don’t get it, because it’s not there,” Manning said. “In their minds they have so much basketball ahead of them and rightfully so. I understand that.
“But we tell them all the time that it’s going to end sooner than you think and when it ends, you’re not going to have much say so about it. It’s just going to be ‘thanks, bye, we’re moving on.’ Then you’ve got to be ready to make that adjustment to life. That’s just the way it is.”
Manning said that there’s nothing he could have said or done to convince his now-former players to change their minds about staying in the draft.
“Logic goes out the window with some of these decisions,” he said. “We just talk, we educate. We’ve got three guys on our staff that played professional basketball. But we couldn’t have the jobs we have now if we didn’t take our academics seriously.”
Moore and Crawford are two of the five players that left Wake’s program since the end of last season. Junior Keyshawn Woods left for Ohio State as a graduate transfer while sophomores Donovan Mitchell and Rich Washington also transferred to other schools.