A huge thanks to State of the U's hoops consigliere, Josh Frank (aka @JoshDaCane) who has helped us research and present this update on CanesHoops recruiting.
The end of summer and early autumn often includes a wave of recruiting frenzy in college basketball, with both schools and recruits looking to find the perfect fit before their seasons start in earnest. For the Miami Hurricanes, who will turn over nearly half of their roster following this coming season, the 2016 recruiting class is particularly pivotal. With four departing seniors at a variety of positions across the floor, along with a late summer transfer, the Hurricanes have five scholarships to fill for next year.
The good news for Coach Jim Larrañaga and his staff is that they have already filled one scholarship, and it may be at the hardest position for any coach to fill in 2015. Center Rodney Miller, a consensus four-star recruit by all of the major services, committed to Miami in early August after taking an official visit in May. A true seven-footer who plays for the prestigious Oak Hill Academy, Miller may have actually flown under the radar due to his absence from the summer shoe circuit. We'll have more from him soon.
One area of particular focus for this year's class is the presence of three top-40 big men in the state of Florida. The headliner is Miami Norland power forward Dewan Huell, a consensus five-star recruit who would be the highest-pedigreed recruit to come to Coral Gables since Darius Rice, a McDonald's All-American in 2000. Huell, known for his power game and relentless attack, is also a symbolically important recruit, an indicator of how much Coach L has improved the relationship and awareness of a Miami program that struck out on major local talents in the past. Huell is taking his first official visit to the Canes on the weekend of October 2, with a trip to Florida State the following weekend. It's thought to be down to the two in-state rivals, with South Carolina getting a visit on October 16 as a dark horse with connections to Huell's AAU team. Huell had said he intended to sign in the spring, and Miami would certainly have room for him - but it sounds like South Florida's crown jewel may commit and sign early after all.
Up there with Huell is his AAU teammate of the last three years, Juwan Durham, a forward from powerhouse Tampa Prep. Durham is a prodigious package of skill and height with range beyond the arc and as a shot-blocking terror inside of it. We spoke with Durham's high school coach, the legendary Joe Fenlon, who said that despite their similar physical statures, the two players have "polar opposite" games that complement each other. "Juwan is more of a catch, pass, backdoor cut, do things like that. Dewan is more of 'I'm going to take it (to the hoop) and you're either going to foul me or I'm going to dunk on you...they're the perfect high/low combination," Fenlon told us. Durham is a strong four-star recruit who dropped from near universal five-star status due to an ACL knee injury, but is ranked as high as 27th by Scout which retained his five-star rating. From all accounts, Durham has been rehabbing hard, and recruiting analysts who haven't seen him play in nearly a year may be underrated. Known as an unassuming, high-academic kid who can be used all over the court, he may actually be the ideal Jim Larrañaga player. Durham is scheduled for an official visit on September 18 (the weekend of the Nebraska football game) and has already taken an official visit to UConn - his only other scheduled visit at this time, and his tweet upon return indicates that he may not be looking too far from home. Look for Florida and Villanova to be involved as well, and look for more on Durham in this space soon. UPDATE: Since this article ran, Durham surprisingly committed to UConn shortly after this tweet.
Had a great time but I'm happy to be home finally
— Juwan Durham (@JuwanDurham) August 30, 2015
The final big man in Florida is Tony Bradley, a center from Bartow, Florida who has skyrocketed into same elite stratosphere as Huell and Durham this year. Bradley is more of a traditional power player, which may make him superfluous with Miller already onboard - though no one should ever count out Coach L's ability to put his five best players on the floor together. Bradley's recruitment is a bit of a puzzle - he took an official visit to long-presumed leader North Carolina in the spring, but has not committed and insists he is wide open. Though Bradley has been on Miami's campus unofficially, he has no other officials publicly scheduled, including to the Hurricanes. Look for him to make a long-fated commitment to UNC, or to commit to another blue blood like Kansas. Alabama, with new coach Avery Johnson, is also a player.
Beyond the Florida big men, the most intriguing part of the Canes recruiting board is a dynamic duo from Louisiana. Point guard DeJon "Deeky" Jarreau and forward Brison Gresham are high school and AAU teammates in New Orleans who would like to play together at the next level. Jarreau is a lanky, smooth guard who stands at 6'5" and is in everyone's top 60 after July, while Gresham is a long, athletic power forward with an aggressive game at the rim who is ranked as high as number 73 by 247 Sports. The duo has cut it down to seven schools and will have visited all seven by the November signing period. Miami gets the first official visit on September 18, just one week after in-state dark horse Tulane gets the, back on campus. Can the Hurricanes beat out in-state leader LSU, who gets an unofficial at the end of October, regional contender Oklahoma, and out-of-state competitors such as Creighton, UMass, and USC? Look for our conversation with the duo this week.
The two other known official visitors are point guards Xavier Simpson and Bryce Aiken, who are visiting on back-to-back weekends in September. Both are somewhat undersized, tough-nosed point guards who are known as winners, Simpson for his father in Lima, Ohio and Aiken for the renowned Patrick School in New Jersey. Simpson is a bit of a late comer to the Hurricanes recruiting board, as the consensus top 100 point guard was offered this summer after his presumed favorite Xavier took another point guard. It's thought that the Hurricanes will have a tough time prying the Midwest native away from regional schools like Iowa State, Indiana and Illinois - but the Hurricanes think enough of their chances that they will have him on campus officially on September 11. Aiken, a top 150 player who is also a terrific student, has been on Miami's board for a long time, though many think that Harvard, which is putting together a strong recruiting class, leads for him. Aiken will be on campus September 24 if he makes it past official visits to Harvard and local school Seton Hall.
Those six have publicly announced their visit schedules, and look for Bradley to get a visit as well if he is serious about Miami. State of The U has learned exclusively of four other visitors on the schedule - though all visits are subject to change. The most intriguing of those is Philly swingman DeAndre Hunter, a consensus four-star recruit who was thought to be a Miami lean before his recruiting blew up this summer. Hunter will be in Coral Gables the weekend of October 2, joined potentially by two other recruits - point guard Tyson Carter, whose recruitment soared over the summer, and Canadian power forward Eddie Ekiyor, who has had a host of high-majors after him all year. Following them on the weekend of October 16 is Texas forward Clevon Brown, who Scout tabbed as a breakout performer over the summer and who claims offers from Texas, Kansas State, Wichita State and others as proof. Other names that could take visits to Coral Gables include Illinois forward Nick Rakocevic, who has been on campus before, and Virginia forward Javin Montgomery-DeLaurier. Don't anticipate the Hurricanes to use all 12 official visits this fall - expect the Hurricanes to bank visits and look again to the transfer market next spring if they can secure early commitments from priority players like Huell and Durham. The Hurricanes always are active on the international scene as well, and fans should keep an eye on Jim Larrañaga's tendency to pull surprise visitors from under the radar. After a small recruiting class for this upcoming season, it looks like things will be busy in Coral Gables - look for the Hurricanes to pull a nationally ranked recruiting class in the Class of 2016.