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Miami Basketball Roundtable: Who will be the most important player?

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The 'Canes tip off the regular season in just a few short weeks. We continue to preview the team today by looking at who might be the most important player on the team.

Streeter Lecka

Last we broke down which of the freshman we thought would be the best/have the biggest impact.

Today we examine who will be the best player overall.

Will it be 6'5 Texas transfer Sheldon McClellan, who could lead the team in scoring?  How about Angel Rodriguez who was an All Big XII player at Kansas State?  Big Man Tonye Jekiri?  Someone else?

Joshua Kaufman got us started, and clearly set the tone for a staff that recognizes the values of big men (with a very comical FSU dig added).

Miami’s most important player has to be Tonye Jekiri. Jekiri’s improvement will go a long way to determining the success of Miami’s season – especially in the first 16 games while Cruz-Uceda has to sit due to some idiotic NCAA rule. I guess if Cruz-Uceda stole a scooter, signed 1,000 autographs for $, or engaged in BB gun fights instead of whatever he did, this wouldn’t be a problem and I could answer with Deandre Burnett.

Cam Underwood seconded the notion, with a more serious response.

The most important player in my eyes is Tonye Jekiri. He's the 1 post with size until Ivan Cruz-Uceda becomes eligible, so he's flying without a net at the start of the year.

Jekiri is a good interior defender and rebounder, and will need to bring both of these traits to the table in every game for the Canes to be successful. Jekiri also showed an improved offensive game in the 2nd half of last season, and anything he can add on that end of the floor will be a bonus. But, on a team with few interior options, and no others with real height until the 16th game of the season, Jekiri's importance to this season cannot be overstated.

Scott Salamon?   You guessed it,  the 7 footer.

The most important person on the team, in my opinion, is Jekiri.  The Canes must have an inside presence and work their game from the inside out. They had problems rebounding last season and they are a little short on big men, no pun intended. They did not get the big man on campus this recruiting period and for Miami to be successful this season they are going to have to crash the boards hard and it all starts with the man in the middle.

Yours truly made it a nearly unanimous response in favor of Jekiri.


If I was asked who was Miami's best player, I would have to pause and decide between 6'5 wing Sheldon McClellan, who looks like an NBA prospect in skill and physicality, or former All Big XII PG Angel Rodriguez, who is a  battle tested leader.

However, since I asked who was the most "important," my answer is easily Tonye Jekiri.  Until Ivan Cruz Uceda comes off suspension, the 'Canes do not have another experienced BIG on the roster.  Why is Jekiri so important?  Miami has plenty of options on the wing and in the back court but TJ gives them a finisher in close and a rim protector on defense.  Not to mention what he can do on the glass.  He has to stay healthy and he has to manage to to stay out of foul trouble most games, so the 7 footer can give UM a presence down low.  Scoring is far less important for Jekiri then defensive prowess and rebounding.  But because his skill set and size are unique for this squad, he is its' most important player in my opinion.

Charlie Strauzer on the other hand, feels it will be Miami's back court that is the key,

I believe that both McClellan and Rodriguez will be equally important to the success of this team.  McClellan is such a talent he will be the focus of most team's defensive strategies which will create mismatches and opportunities for Rodriguez to exploit.  Angel's vocal leadership on the court along with his ability to create off the dribble should make it easy for guys like Tonye to get easy shots and/or offensive rebounds.  Likewise having a threat like Rodriguez should help free up McClellan on the perimeter for threes.  If McClellan continues to progress I would expect him to average high teens/low twenties per contest, which will be needed as the Canes head into conference play.

Who do you think will be Miami's most important player?  Be sure to vote below.

Stay tuned for more Hoops Updates as we count down to tip off.