While looking to the future is always important, celebrating the program's most successful season is never a bad thing either.
And what better way to honor the 2012-13 Hurricanes Hoops teams than by tracking its' stars.
And you can not begin to talk about last season's star studded group with out starting with Shane Larkin. The best player in the ACC last year was drafted 18th overall in the NBA Draft by the Atlanta Hawks before being dealt to the Dallas Mavericks.
Larkin's debut was delayed by a broken ankle, but once he made his debut, the Mavs and their fans were instantly impressed.
Josh Rowe, Editor of Mavs Moneyball, (@mavsmoneyball) added this insight,
"I think there's a cautious excitement with Mavs fans regarding Larkin. The fan base desperately wants to latch onto a young guy that's home grown (I.E. drafted with the team and not traded or signed for). They did the same with Rodrigue Beaubois and are doing the same thing with Jae Crowder. The problem is fans don't want to get their hopes up, since there have been so many Mavs draft busts in recent memory. The visions of Beaubois are still haunting most of us. We all want to LOVE Larkin but we also have to temper expectations knowing the past. But as far as Larkin's game/personality/demeanor, he's easily going to be a fan-favorite as long as he keeps improving."
Rowe added Miami's system under Coach Jim Larranaga helped prepare Larkin for success in the NBA.
"When I did pay attention to college basketball last year, Larkin's Miami team was probably the funnest to watch. It felt like a very pro-style team, in that it embraced running, shooting threes, lots of pick and rolls and shots at the rim. Was really impressed with Larkin's range as well."
Through 5 games Suga' Shane is averaging just 5 ppg, but already has 3 games with multiple steals, and did knock down 2-3 from downtown in Dallas' 123-120 win over San Antonio 11/20.
Mavs fans are already comparing the speedy Larkin to another former Mavs PG who helped the team win a Championship 3 years ago.
"The easy comparison is J.J. Barea" Rowe observed,
"They're both small, both lightening quick, both great in the pick and roll and both like to score. But Larkin has something Barea doesn't -- elite athleticism. Larkin has a chance to fill Barea's old role in Dallas -- off the bench pick and roll dynamo. With his physical gifts he has the chance to be an even better version of that and back-up point guard is such a crucial position in the NBA."
And perhaps a starter's role in time?
Larkin after his debut (d210tv1):
As for the rest of last season's talented and eclectic group:
Trey McKinney Jones got a long look with the Milwaukee Bucks this summer before signing on in the NBADL. Trey's step dad, Ed Schmitt, gave us the following update,
"Trey is one of two NBA affiliate players assigned to the Fort Wayne Mad Ants. He is off to a good start, averaging 13.5 ppg and playing solid defense. He likes the coaches there and they are impressed with his potential."
Former UM guard and current Mad Ant teammate Anthony Harris added,
"Trey looks good, He went to Miami so I watched him as I kept up with my alma mater. I think he's better than what I saw in college. It's his first year out, so that's saying a lot when you think about a guy."
Click HERE for a peek of Trey, Harris, and the Mad Ants in action (full game).
Julian Gamble is making an instant impact for Saint Vallier Basket Drôme in France, averaging 16.1 ppg, and 8.6 rpg, (top 10 in both categories) as well as providing his usual solid presence defensively.
JG told us,
"All of the teams in the league are pretty good and even so every night is a battle, the game is very physical. I am looking to continue playing well and increasing numbers, and most importantly get some wins."
In addition to some cameo work for SOTU, Gamble keeps in touch with former teammates like Durand Scott and current UM big man Tonye Jekiri,
Does he still photo and video bomb overseas you ask?
"Nah.. Not much media over here. I take a lot of pictures with fans though."
To the fine folks in France I say, you don't know what you are missing.
Aforementioned Scott has gotten off to a slow start in Spain with Blusens Monbus , averaging 4.7 ppg. But the 2012-13 ACC Defensive Player of the Year was in the starting line-up their last game, and is shooting 48% from the floor.
Kenny Kadji got a long look from the Cleveland Cavaliers this summer, but with the Cavs having a crowded front court, did not make the roster.
Kajdi told us,
"I working out right. Getting ready for my next step. Overseas or maybe the D league. I've talked to couple guys on the team but everybody is focused on their season so we haven't had time to talk as much."
There is little doubt, the 6'11 big man with a smooth three point stroke will be helping out a roster somewhere soon with his immense talent. Kenny Kadji will undoubtedly be playing basketball for a living somewhere. Hopefully, that place is in the NBA.
Big Reggie Johnson had his first game action with the NBADL's Delaware 87ers Saturday Night, and produced 3 points and 2 rebounds on 14 minutes. If Big Reg can overcome the injury bug, he can certainly contribute to a pro roster.
Stay tuned as we continue to follow the careers of this very special group.