This season has been an up and down year for the Miami Hurricanes basketball squad.
Players like seniors Rion Brown and Erik Swoope have played their hearts out and helped UM overachieve. They will be sorely missed.
Freshmen Manu Lecomte and Davon Reed have shown great potential and promise to grow into even better players next season with a year of experience.
But which new faces will shape the team in 2014-15?
There is no shortage of incoming talent, and today we break it all down.
For the interest of this article we will use 4 Categories to break down next season's newcomers:
Top Shelf, Will Contribute, Developmental, & Wildcard
PG Angel Rodriguez - (transfer K State Jr.)
The Numbers - Was a 4 star prospect coming out of Dr. Michael Krop High School in Miami, Fla. His two years with the Wildcats did nothing to diminish his reputation. As a sophomore averaged 11.4 points on 36.1 percent shooting, including 34.4 percent from 3-point range, to go with 5.2 assists, 2.1 rebounds and 1.5 steals. Also had a spectacular 2.2 to 1 assist to turnover ratio and was an All Big 12 second team selection as well as All Big 12 defensive player. Listed at 5-11 180.
The Skinny - Just an outstanding all-around player. Shooting will improve after sitting out 2013-14. He can create his own shot when needed, but always looks to keep his teammates involved. Very strong with the basketball and rarely makes unforced errors. Stronger then he looks and moves his feet well on defense. Not the shooter or athlete that Shane Larkin was, but pretty close in overall skills. My only concern is if he can stay healthy. Decided to skip waiver application for this year in part to due to tendonitis in his knee. As good as Manu Lecomte has been as a freshman, should upgrade the PG position on both ends of the floor. Though Coach L has hinted you could see them on the floor together some next year. Certainly they will push each other in practice and the point guard position will be a major strength for the 'Canes next year.
SG/SF Sheldon McClellan - (transfer Texas Jr.)
The Numbers - #47 ranked prospect overall by ESPN coming out of Bellaire H.S. in Texas. As a sophomore averaged 13.5 points, 3.9 rebounds, 0.9 assists, 0.8 steals, shooting 38.2 percent from the field, 27.3 percent from three and 83.3 percent at the line. Listed at 6'5 210.
The Skinny - His talent is off the charts. Yet he earned a spot in Rick Barnes doghouse in 2012-13 because of poor shot selection and defensive effort. Exceptional ability to take the ball to the basket and finishes strong inside. Great handle as well. Streak shooter from the outside. Not a polished passer by any means. With Coach L and staff working with him should improve dramatically as a defender. Bottom line, he is too good not to work with and should see significant minutes immediately. However there is plenty of room for improvement as an overall player.
(For those with the time and desire to see these 2 in action I have posted video of K State's 81-69 win over Texas from 2/23/13 in which Rodriguez had 16 points and 6 assists and McClellan had 15 points and 5 rebounds)
PG/SG Deandre Burnett - (RS Freshman)
The Numbers: As a senior at Carol City H.S. Fl averaged 37 ppg, 5 apg, and 6 rpg. Yes those numbers are real! 4 star recruit and 2012 Parade All-American who spent a season at Prep School as well, so will actually be 20 years old for his RS Fr. campaign. Listed at 6'2 191.
The Skinny: Born to score. Can take the ball to the basket and finish, pull up for medium J's, and has unlimited range from distance. Floaters, slashes, shots off the dribble, catch and shoot are all part of his repertoire. Was expected to lead this year's team in scoring before breaking his wrist just before UM's opener. Had 16 points in 22 minutes in UM's exhibition Vs Florida Tech 10/30/13. All-around game remains a question, but he can definitely fill it up.
PF/C Ivan Cruz Uceda -(JUCO transfer Jr.)
The Numbers: Averaging 14.2 ppg on 63.7 percent shooting from the field, 45.8 percent from three (27-59), and 74.4 percent from the line (58-78), 9.8 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.3 blocks, and 1.3 steals per game (updated 2/23/14) at Harcum J.C. Listed at 6'10 240.
The Skinny: Charlie Strauzer and Josh Frank collaborated to give this very detailed scouting report. In a nutshell he is an experienced, developed player who can score inside and out. He is also an effective rebounder, and an excellent passer. Has very good feel for the game. Not a big time athlete by any means, but could be the sleeper of this group as he is highly skilled. Could end up being "top shelf" because of Miami's need for interior players next season.
PG/SG JaQuan Newton -(Fr.)
The Numbers: Consensus Top 60 player, rated as a 4 star prospect and the No. 55 player in ESPN’s Top 100 list at Neumann-Goretti High in Philadelphia. Unofficially averaging 21.3 ppg and 4 apg as a H.S. senior. Listed at 6'2 180.
The Skinny: Has been compared to Durand Scott because he is best taking the ball to the basket, and has a streaky jumper. Tough as nails competitor who should improve the more time he is on campus. Good passer, and can play both guard positions. Creates his own shot with ease. After watching some film on him as a junior, recently saw senior highlights and his athleticism and explosiveness seem to have improved. Probably won't start right away but because he can defend and is versatile, should be part of the rotation from the get go.
Here's a look at some impressive recent highlights:
PF Omar Sherman - (Fr.)
The Numbers: Rated as a 4 star prospect, according to ESPN and Scout.com, and the # 20 power forward in the country, as well as the No. 94 player overall by Scout. Could not find current stats on Sherman but averaged 12 ppg and 8.3 rpg as a H.S. junior at Duncanville H.S. in TX. Listed at 6'8 250.
The Skinny: Big, strong player who has a soft touch and can play with his back to the basket. Also has good range on his jumper and can even knock down an occasional three. Adds depth to a position of need, and could see early minutes as a result. Might need a year to learn the speed of the game, particularly in the ACC, before becoming optimally effective.
SG James Palmer - (Fr.)
The Numbers: Rated as a 3 star prospect and 25th best shooting guard in the country by ESPN. No current stats available but averaged 12 ppg 5 rpg and 2 apg as a junior at St. John's College High School in Washington D.C. (one of the better programs in the country). Listed at 6'4 180.
The Skinny: Pure shooter who loves to spot up and get shots in transition. Smooth handle as well, and shows the ability to play both guard spots. Don't let the stats fool you, he is the best player on a very good team. Good size as well. Could end up being a very good player down the line, but might find himself redshirting next season with the amount of depth Miami will have in the backcourt.
PG Corn Elder (RS Fr.)
The Numbers: Top 100 H.S. PG according to ESPN. Led Ensworth H.S. TN to 2 straight state championships and was named state tournament's most valuable player. Averaged 20.2 ppg and 4.7 apg a game as a senior, not to mention 4 steals a game. 7 tackles and 144 return yards as a freshman on the gridiron for Al Golden. Listed at 5-10 170. Legit 4.4 speed.
The Skinny: Was expected to contribute to this year's squad before suffering a torn meniscus during football season. Would not be available until January as he is on scholarship for football, so would have a hard time getting many minutes. But could be a defensive menace and a spark plug in certain situations. Elder is a tough kid, and has Shane Larkin like athletic abilities. Long term he could be a factor, especially when his football eligibility is exhausted.
PF/C Unknown (Graduate transfer??)
The Numbers: When all of the graduates move on and the newcomers arrive, Miami will still have one scholarship available (see chart below).
The Skinny: In a perfect world, Coach L and staff find another Donnavan Kirk. A graduate transfer who is BIG, experienced, and eligible ASAP, could be the final piece that completes a very talented roster.
Basketball Scholarship Matrix:
|1||Rion Brown SR/G||James Kelly SR/F||Tonye Jekiri SR/C||Davon Reed SR/G|
|2||Garrius Adams SR/G||Tonye Jekiri JR/C||Angel Rodriguez SR/G||Manu LeComte SR/G|
|3||Erik Swoope SR/F||Angel Rodriguez JR/G||Sheldon McClellan SR/G||Deandre Burnett JR/G|
|4||Raphael Akpejori SR/C||Sheldon McClellan JR/G||Ivan Cruz Uceda SR/C||James Palmer JR/G|
|5||Justin Heller SR/G
|Ivan Cruz Uceda JR/C ***
||Davon Reed JR/G||JaQuan Newton JR/G|
|6||Donnavan Kirk SR/F||Davon Reed SO/G||Manu LeComte JR/G||Omar Sherman JR/F|
|7||James Kelly JR/F||Manu LeComte SO/G||James Palmer SO/G||Empty|
|8||Tonye Jekiri SO/C||James Palmer FR/G||JaQuan Newton SO/G||Empty|
|9||Angel Rodriguez SO/G*||JaQuan Newton FR/G||Deandre Burnett SO/G||Empty|
|10||Sheldon McClellan SO/G*||Omar Sherman FR/F||Omar Sherman SO/F||Empty|
|11||Manu LeComte FR/G||Deandre Burnett FR/G**||Empty||Empty|
|12||Davon Reed FR/G||Empty||Empty||Empty|
|13||Deandre Burnett FR/G**||NCAA reduction||NCAA reduction||NCAA reduction|
* denotes sitting out for transfer season
** denotes medical redshirt season
*** JUCO transfer
Well there you have it folks, everything you need to know about the group who will be joining Manu Lecomte, Tonye Jekiri, Davon Reed, and James Kelly on what should be very good roster.
The talent will be there, but chemistry will be key.
I appreciate any and all feedback as well as anything I may have missed in the comments below.