The focus here and elsewhere is often with football recruiting, but basketball recruiting can be just, if not more interesting -- one player can make or break a class. Like our colleague Cameron Underwood does with football, here is a closer look into the Canes basketball recruiting picture, with some help from fellow State Of The U writer, Charlie Strauzer (@strauzer) and super fan Josh Frank (@JoshDaCane).
First, let's recap on who is coming to Coral Gables this fall. With 6 players departing the team, Coach L and his staff had a lot of work to do to get some pieces in place for the 2013-2014 and they, like always, did a good job filling in.
The ‘Canes recruited and landed South Florida scoring guard,DeAndre Burnett and New Jersey swingman Davon Reed in the fall.
The spring saw the Hurricanes add three players who will be eligible next year from very diverse backgrounds. Larranaga worked the junior college ranks hard, despite JUCO players often having trouble gaining admission into the school. It's no secret that the front court is depleted with the departures of Kenny Kadji, Reggie Johnson and Julian Gamble, so the staff pulled in James Kelly. Kelly is a power forward from Michigan who will be eligible as a junior and likely to slot into the starting lineup. Sharing the frontcourt with him will be Donnavan Kirk, who is a DePaul transfer and is ready for his second stint in Coral Gables as a fifth-year senior graduate transfer. The Canes also went fishing overseas and reeled in Belgian point guard, Manu Lecomte, who is considered one of the top prospects in Europe.
The team is expecting dual-sport commits Corn Elder and Derrick Griffin to help out once football season comes to an end. Both had offers from BCS schools in basketball as well, and will count against the football scholarship list, not basketball.
Larranaga didn't stop there, and seeking to further balance the eight available scholarships across future classes, worked the transfer market extremely hard. The Canes needed to upgrade the point guard position and did just that by landing Kansas State transfer and Miami native, Angel Rodriguez. Rodriguez was second-team All-Big 12 last year and will provide instant stability to the Miami backcourt when he is eligible -- the staff is pursuing a waiver for him to play this season, but the staff does not expect to know until some time near the start of the season. Regardless of that decision by the NCAA, Rodriguez has two-year left of eligibility.
Also, deep into Sunday night, the staff landed it's third transfer of the off-season in Ex-Texas Longhorn shooting guard, Sheldon McClellan, who will sit out for a year and be eligible as a junior. Check out our story HERE
The additions of Rodriguez and McClellan give the Hurricanes an experienced backcourt in 2013-2014 and should put them on track to be a dangerous NCAA tournament team.
WHATS LEFT TO DO IN 2013?
- Coach Larranaga has repeatedly emphasized the year-round nature of recruiting, noting that projected NBA first-round pick Shane Larkin joined the program in August 2011, immediately before the start of classes. August may be a magic month for Miami again this year. We've spoken exclusively with a foreign big man prospect who has a strong interest in the Hurricanes, but is waiting for results of a summer course to determine whether he can reclassify to 2013. If he becomes an NCAA qualifier, he expects an offer to be forthcoming. StateofTheU.com will keep you appraised of his progress this summer, and will be the first to let you know if he will be in Coral Gables this fall.
If nothing else pans out, the staff will gladly carry the one scholarship forward through the summer and into the fall.
NOW, ONTO 2014
The 2014 class started to take shape early on with the commitment of shooting guard, Adonys Henriquez last winter. This was the first commitment of what many Canes fans hope will be a well-rounded and a potential landmark class, to build off the success of the historic 2012-2013 season.
There's a lot of in-state talent coming out of this class, with ESPN giving 22 players grades of three-stars or better.
- Most notably is Brandone Francis of Jacksonville. Miami offered Francis last month, and is close friends with fellow Dominican and Cane commit, Adonys Henriquez. Henriquez is putting the pressure on Francis to possibly build the first collegiate backcourt that consists of two Dominican-born players. Word is Francis would really love to follow fellow Dominican Al Horford and join Billy Donovan and the Gators, so don't hold your breath.
The talent, however, does not end there.
- South Florida forward, Malik Price-Martin is still a big priority for this staff and 247sports.com's recruiting analyst, Jerry Meyer expects to commit to the Canes. The athletic Price-Martin would provide scoring inside-out scoring and a much needed addition to the front court. The word out on him is that he won't be committing anywhere until the spring of 2014 after he has taken his visits. It remains to be seen if Miami will wait out on him.
- The staff is also heavily recruiting two Blanche Ely products; Lance Tejada and Richard Lee. Lee is a terrific scorer and holds offers from both Florida and Miami. Many believe both those schools are going to battle until the end for Lee. Tejada on the other hand, is a good point guard and has drawn some comparison to future ProCane, Shane Larkin. I wouldn't blame you if you cringed at the comparison after the great year Larkin displayed, but the similarities are there. Tejada is a small, quick point guard that is great at distributing and making others better. With some coaching and a good big to run a lethal pick-and-roll, Tejada could be a good pickup. Lee is a consensus three-star prospect, while Tejada recently moved into the ESPN 100 list.
- Some other in-state targets include: American Heritage guard Kobe Eubanks, Dmitri Thompson and Orlando point guard, B.J. Taylor.
2014 OUT-OF-STATE OPTIONS
With the smaller rosters and closer relationships between player and coach, in-state preferences are not as important as they are in the football world. Miami is involved with a many talented out-of-state players, especially in their Northeast recruiting bases of New York and Washington, D.C.
- New York forward,Terry Larrier has said that the Canes are recruiting him the hardest and he wants to visit Miami along with Florida. The athletic wing is a fan of warm weather, and Miami more than fits that bill. Larrier has really high upside and still has room to grow, having moved as high as 31st on the 247's rankings after a dynamite spring.
Although Larrier and Price-Martin seem to be the main targets in 2014, the team has up to five more sports to fill, and has many other offers out.
- Players with UM offers who have mentioned Miami recently include PG's Ja'Quan Newton and Keith Pinckney, SG's Jared Terrell and James Demery, SF Devin Robinson, and PFs LaDamion Keys and big man, Satchel Pierce.
- Satchel Pierce is a 7-footer and has Miami high on his list. Pierce told State Of The U that he's yet to be offered by the Hurricanes, but an offer by the staff would put Miami in his top 5. He has yet to cut down his list and is waiting until July. The 7-footer out of Pennsylvania has offers from Seton Hall, FIU, Drexel amongst others.
We'll learn a lot more about this class once players start to cut down their lists in the upcoming months. Expect Miami to see some high-profile visitors during August and September.
WHAT ABOUT 2015?
Saturday at midnight was the first time college coaches could call, email and text 2015 recruits and Miami wasted no time.
Miami recently offered New York big man Jessie Govan, were the first to call PG Justin Jenifer and reached out to several players in Florida. But besides inquiring about some 2015 recruits, Miami had already offered some recruits, most notably Pembroke Pines Charter combo guard, Haanif Cheatham.
Cheatham is the most sought after recruit for the Canes in this class and Miami has made an effort in showing him that he's important to them. Being recruited so early on has been important to Cheatham.
"I think that it's truly a blessing because I've worked so hard for it and I know they are one of the top schools in the nation."
Cheatham is enjoying the process of his recruiting, but he should know his decision "some time by winter or summer of my junior year."
- Other names that the Canes have already offered in the 2015 class include highly recruited players such as Malachi Richardson, Charles Matthews and Isaiah Briscoe.
WHO HAVE WE MISSED OUT ON?
- 2014 PF Tariq Owens had cut down his list to four, which included Miami, but he ultimately decided to commit to Ohio University
- Also, 2014 SG Dion Wiley, who carried a Miami offer, decided to stay home and commit to the University of Maryland.
- 2014 SF Jared Nickens, who thought highly of Miami, also decided to commit to the University of Maryland.
That does it for the first hoops edition of the recruiting radar. Keep coming back to State of the U and we'll keep you covered with all your Canes Hoops recruiting news.