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Canes Shouldn't Be Rhett-icent in Their Pursuit of Coveted Big Man Transfer

After a year's sabbatical from postseason play with an overachieving but inexperienced team, the Miami Hurricanes anticipate a return to the big dance next March with seven new players added to the mix through both the recruiting and transfer markets. The coaching staff would like to add an eighth. With one open scholarship remaining, the Hurricanes are looking to bring in a capable big man, one with immediate eligibility via the NCAA's graduate transfer rules. With the Miami coaching staff keeping close tabs on the …transfer wire, one big man who is looking to move elsewhere for his last year of eligibility elsewhere has the Canes high on his list. And he's just as high on theirs. The staff has focused on M.J. Rhett, a 6'9", 230 pound forward from Tennessee State in the Ohio Valley Conference. Rhett averaged 10.9 points and 9.1 rebounds per game, and is one of the top returning rebounders in the country.


SOTU spoke with M.J. Rhett yesterday to get the latest on his recruitment. Rhett told us that "North Carolina, Miami, USC, Ole Miss and Tennessee" are highest on his list, and that he's already taken visits to Oklahoma State and Tulane before dropping them. He visits Ole Miss this weekend, and will visit Miami on April 21. Despite new interest from UNC and others, Rhett intends to make Miami his last visit, and he hopes to make a decision on the weekend of April 26.

"I wanted to prove myself on a bigger stage," Rhett told us of his motivation for transferring for his final year.  The forward, who was under-recruited after suffering a knee injury in high school, is also used to coaching changes - Tennessee State just fired coach Travis Williams after two seasons, while Rhett was initially recruited and coached by John Cooper before he left for Ohio University. Rhett relishes the opportunity to play in a bigger conference like the ACC. "I like that challenge.  To be able to play North Carolina, Duke and Syracuse would be nice," he told us.

A tough inside player with obvious rebounding prowess, Rhett thinks that he has the potential to cause mismatches and show more skills than he did at Tennessee State, as a  "face up" player with range potentially to the three-point line, which was not part of his game for the Tigers (he has never attempted a three-point shot). Rhett likes the Hurricanes' "style of play" and told us that "of course, you can't go wrong living in Miami!" He recently talked to about his relationship with the staff, saying "I like Miami because they have a lot respect for me.  I love Coach Larrañaga...I feel like it's a good situation," a point that he reiterated to SOTU yesterday.

Rhett may be an answer to the Hurricanes needs in the front court. With only two returning players in James Kelly and Tonye Jekiri, both of whom have been inconsistent and neither of whom are entrenched starters, Rhett would see quality minutes. Rhett's style of play fits well into the system that the Hurricanes play, and his rebounding prowess would be a massive boost to a team that was essentially even on the boards during ACC play, especially as the staff experiments with a potentially undersized rotation featuring extremely talented perimeter players.  SOTU will keep Canes fans posted over these next two weeks.

MJ Rhett (via Chuck Davidson)