Key Departures: Chris Lykes (–>Arkansas); Elijah Olaniyi (–>Stony Brook); Nysier Brooks (–>Ole Miss); Matt Cross (–>Louisville); Earl Timberlake (–>Memphis)
New In Town: Charlie Moore (<–DePaul); Jordan Miller (<–George Mason); Jakai Robinson (#84); Bensley Joseph (#103); Nisine Poplar (#123)
State of the Program:
The Hurricanes are in a bad spot as a program as they have taken a nose dive in terms of results and chaos has ensued with 5 players transferring out, including 2 heralded Freshman from last season’s class. Jim Larranaga had taken Miami to 4 tourneys in 6 years until the most recent skid that has seen them go 16-41 in the ACC over the last 3 seasons. The good news for Larranaga and the Hurricanes is that they get their 2 leading scorers back in Isaiah Wong (JR) and Kameron McGusty (SR), along with part time starters Anthony Walker (JR) and Harlond Beverly (JR), giving the Hurricanes an experienced base with which to build off of. The issue for the Canes a year ago was mostly injuries, causing guys to have to step into larger roles on the fly, which can be difficult to do especially when one of those was Chris Lykes, the presumptive star coming into the season. The went out and got a couple of transfers and some Freshmen to help patch the holes left behind and if they can establish some chemistry they could ride McGusty and Wong to a better finish than a year ago.
Leading the incoming group is George Mason transfer G Jordan Miller (SR), who was an All-A10 selection a season ago after averaging 16 ppg and 6 rpg at GM. Miller is 6’6” and is relentless at attacking the basket but his southpaw stroke hasn’t quite found consistency from the outside. Despite that he was very productive and comes to Miami with a real shot at major minutes as his versatility could allow him to play on the wing or as a small ball 4. The other transfer coming in is the well-traveled PG Charlie Moore (SR), who is now entering his 4th college program in a 4th different high major Conference. He has gone from Cal—Kansas—DePaul—Miami in now his 6th season removed from High School. He has averaged double figures in scoring in 2 of his previous stops and will battle Beverly for the lead guard role in this offense as he’s gotten better and better as a distributor throughout his journey. The best of the Freshmen incoming is wing Jakai Robinson (#84) who flashes a pretty lefty stroke and is a strong athlete. His best trait is his jumper but his athleticism and strength make his a prime candidate to be a solid 2-way player. he may not get a ton of run this season due to the talent ahead of him but he should at the very least see some minutes as a reserve and be due for a breakout in year 2. Bensley Joseph (#103) is a 6’1” PG with Cassius Winston like traits as a lead guard, as he has tremendous court vision and seems to relish the opportunity to set up his teammates. He has very quick hands and can be a nightmare defensively, and is able to finish well inside with a variety of crafty finishes. He has a chance to be a prolific lead guard, especially if he develops his jumper. He could work in as the backup lead guard behind Moore with Beverly playing more off the ball. The final newcomer is 6’4” G Nisine Poplar (#123) who has a nice looking jumper, albeit a bit slow to release, and is a powerful athlete. He hasn’t shown much in the way of playmaking but can be a dangerous option in transition and from deep when his feet are set. He will need to develop his ball handling and ability to get his own shot, but the jumper will give him a chance to play and be an impactful presence down the road.
There is no reason this Miami team shouldn’t be better than a season ago, and Larranaga may even be coaching for his job a little bit as a 4th season in a row in the basement of the ACC could spell trouble. They have a ton of returning talent despite the losses and with the impact transfers coming in combined with that they have a talented enough roster to win games. How well these guys mesh and develop together as a team is the real question, as they often played individually a year ago and completely ignored the defensive end of the floor. It’s concerning to see guys bolt from a program, especially Freshmen, but Larranaga has a good enough reputation to at least have some hope that the Hurricanes can make a push for a .500 conference season. The issue is the ACC is loaded and they simply might not have enough to beat the top half of the Conference. Look for Wong and McGusty to score in bunches, but the defensive inefficiencies will rear their ugly head and keep the Canes from taking a major step forward.