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Dino Gaudio to guide the Deacons

By By JOEDY McCREARY, AP Sports Writer
WINSTON-SALEM — Dino Gaudio has taken over for Skip Prosser before.
More than two decades ago, Gaudio replaced Prosser at a parochial high school in West Virginia and eventually led that team to a state title. On Wednesday, Wake Forest chose Gaudio to again take Prosser’s place, this time to replace his late mentor in the cutthroat Atlantic Coast Conference.
Wake Forest athletic director Ron Wellman, who signed Gaudio to a five-year contract, praised the 50-year-old Gaudio for his strength during the two weeks of grieving that followed Prosser’s July 26 death from an apparent heart attack. While making such a long-term commitment to a coach with a career record of 68-124 might appear unusual, Wellman said he never considered hiring an interim coach.
The speedy hire also appeared aimed at emphasizing stability and continuity to a recruiting class that’s ranked as one of the nation’s best. Among the commitments are forward Al-Farouq Aminu of Norcross, Ga. (ranked No. 3 nationally by Scout.com), and center Ty Walker of Wilmington (ranked No. 14 by the service).
Dave Telep, basketball recruiting editor for Scout.com, said Gaudio’s promotion was key for the program to begin healing after Prosser’s death.
Wellman outlined his search plans during a meeting with current staff members last Friday, the day before Prosser’s burial in Cincinnati.
A nearly four-hour interview with Gaudio on Monday led Wellman to strongly consider him that night, and a day later he finalized the decision to promote Prosser’s longtime assistant.
Sophomore point guard Ishmael Smith said the players were relieved that Gaudio was promoted, because there was a lingering worry about having to learn the new systems and schemes of an unfamiliar leader.
Prosser and Gaudio first paired up in 1980-81 at a Catholic school in the northern panhandle of West Virginia. The native of Yorkville, Ohio, took over the program at tiny Wheeling Central in 1984-85 after Prosser left to join Xavier’s staff, and a year later, won a state championship with future Tulsa assistant Dave Wojcik as his point guard.
Prosser and Gaudio reunited in 1987 under Pete Gillen at Xavier and stayed together until 1993, when Prosser took the head job at Loyola of Maryland and Gaudio accepted a similar position at Army. Gaudio went 36-72 in four seasons with the Black Knights before moving to Loyola of Maryland, where he was 32-52 before he resigned in 2000.
He rejoined Prosser at Xavier in 2000-01, and the two moved to Wake Forest together the following season.
Prosser’s death following a midday jog stunned the college basketball world and left Wake Forest’s close-knit campus in disbelief.
An example of how close the two were: Gaudio was nervous Tuesday night when calling Prosser’s mother to tell her he would take over for her son. He shouldn’t have worried.
AP Sports Writers Aaron Beard in Raleigh, N.C., and Jeff Latzke in Oklahoma City contributed to this report.
On the Net:
Wake Forest Demon Deacons: http://wakeforestsports.cstv.com/