The University of Miami Men's Basketball Team opens the season with a game against Howard on 11/14. With the season right around the corner, it's time to look at some of the most intriguing factors the team will face.
Today the staff tackled the question of which of UM's freshman players, among RS frosh Deandre Burnett, true freshmen Ja'Quan Newton, James Palmer, and Omar Sherman, would have the biggest impact in 2014-14.
Basketball Guru Charlie Strauzer, who put together this detailed look at Miami's improved scoring options, got us started,
I'm going to say Deandre will be most productive of the 4 but of the 3 true frosh I believe Omar will have the greatest contribution. Burnett is a natural scorer, he finds ways to get points and should come out like he was shot out of a cannon given he's 2 years removed from high school and has yet to take a shot in a regular season game. Omar will almost certainly benefit from Ivan Cruz Uceda's half year eligibility related suspension. He came in overweight and out of shape but has dropped 25+ pounds and has really impressed the staff with his talent and work ethic. Coach Chris Caputo likens him to a Sam Perkins type, someone who can score from the perimeter or the block and shoots free throws well if he's fouled. If the Canes get anything close to a Perkins in Sherman they will be in great shape.
Next up, the loquacious Cam Underwood chimed in with his always well thought out analysis:
This might seem like the easiest answer, but if we're counting De'Andre Burnett as a freshman, he's gotta be the choice. I saw him play in his Senior Year at Carol City 3 years ago (yeah, it's been a while since he played), and he is an electric scorer. He averaged nearly 38ppg facing constant double teams and traps designed to get the ball out of his hands. His handle isn't the greatest, but it is good enough to allow him to get to whatever scoring spot he wants. And, he has deep range, which only aids in putting the defense on their heels. Even with adding Sheldon McClellan and Angel Rodriguez to the backcourt, Burnett is the best scorer on the team the instant he steps on the floor.Where Burnett might struggle is on the defensive end. He's only 6'1", but he's a pure scoring 2 guard. Going up against much taller players, Burnett will be tested often. I'm not sure how much we'll see the player he's guarding inverted down to the post, but if they are, that could be a struggle for Burnett to defend.
Grizzled SOTU vet Scott Salomon is never shy with his opinions, and offered this insight,
I think that Deandre is the key to this class because with him being here for a year already and having been exposed to the system, he needs to lead by example. Also, with him being a Miami kid he can help the newcomers adjust to the big city life. Miami has had a tough time putting the ball in the hoop and opening up leads in games and he can lead in this area. They need his shooting touch to come back early so when they get to the ACC part of their schedule, he will have a hot hand and keep them in the games with the big boys.
Highly skilled Hoops Authoritarian Joshua Kaufman agreed that Burnett was the man as well:
Deandre Burnett - It was expected that Burnett was going to take this mantle last season and either become the leading or 2nd leading scorer on an offensively-challenged 'Canes team. Sadly, Burnett was lost for the season before it even started. I find no reason to not pencil Burnett in as the frosh most likely to make a huge impact again. Even with some more capable scorers on this year's squad (McClellan & Rodriguez) and some other talented newcomers (Newton & Palmer), I expect Burnett to light up the scoreboard. I'm not talking 25pts a game here, but 12-15ppg with explosions in the 20's when the 'Canes need him is definitely not out of the question.
Last and least, yours truly offered a slight variation from the rest:
I am going to go with a sleeper in James Palmer. I like his size at 6'4, since he might be forced to play some 3 in smaller line-ups. From what I have seen he is a very smooth, if not spectacular player. And of the bunch I think he has the most consistent jumper. This could come in very handy with the penetration of Manu Lecomte and Angel Rodriguez. He was incredibly efficient in Spain, and shot team best 68% from the floor, hit 57% (8-15) from distance en route to 11.5 ppg. He also chipped in 10 assists and 8 steals in 4 games. Impressive numbers, albeit we have no idea what the level of the opposition was like. He will also benefit from the absence of injured wing Davon Reed. If Palmer can defend half as well as he shoots, he will see major minutes.
The amazing thing? Not one of us picked PG/SG and Philly Native Ja'Quan Newton, the highest rated of all the freshmen among all of the recruiting services.
This further illustrates what a deep and talented group of newcomers Miami has.
Stay tuned for more Hoops Updates as we count down to tip off.