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With improved recruiting classes, Miami basketball is heading in a different direction

After years of success in the ACC, Miami’s national reputation has changed its makeup.

Miami v Virginia Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

Yesterday 6’10” ESPN 100 power forward Deng Gak made his collegiate intentions known, and committed to Jim Larrañaga and the Miami Hurricanes.

The commitment provided Miami with its second ESPN 100 recruit in the class of 2017, and gave the Hurricanes multiple ESPN 100 commits for the second straight season. The acquisition of Gak not only helped Miami bolster its youth, but also marked the 4th straight season that the ‘Canes brought in a top 100 player.

In 2010, the season prior to Jim Larrañaga arrival, Miami did not bring in a single top 100 recruit, and could not continue the momentum they created in 2009 when they acquired top athletes such as Durand Scott and Garrius Adams.

It was at that moment, that the program’s reputation began to take a hit.

No longer did fans believe the basketball team could make a run at the NCAA tournament, and in 2011 Frank Haith’s departure caused turmoil within the program. Miami was linked to Nevin Shapiro’s illicit benefits scandal, and the program was on the fringe of either being rebuilt or mired in mediocrity.

Fast forward 4 years, and the ‘Canes have an ACC championship, two Sweet 16 appearances, and a set of recruiting classes most programs would kill for. Miami has simply taken the next step over the past 5 seasons, and become a perennial ACC contender.

Larrañaga built Miami’s reputation with senior laden rosters and veteran experience, but as Miami’s recruiting classes improve, the team’s makeup will change as well. Although Miami will always have veterans on their roster, some of the team’s most talented players will be underclassmen in the future.

Although Miami’s unique combination of experience and youth will give the ‘Canes their edge come ACC play, their is no doubt that players will be thrusted into large roles early in their career.

And with youth comes inexperience, something Coach Larrañaga knows they will have to work through.

“Right now with a young team the one thing I see is the inconsistency,” Larrañaga said. “We anticipate that inconsistency early on, but hopefully it can be developed into a more consistent effort defensively and a more consistent performance offensively. But we know we have to be patient with the young guys to get them to the level where they can succeed and win.”

And in order for Miami’s freshman to learn how to win early, the Hurricanes’ veterans have had to step up and teach them.

“We are just holding them accountable,” Miami senior Kamari Murphy said. “Knowing the right places, knowing where to be, talking on defense -- I think once they put it together we will be ready for the season.

The ‘Canes lost the majority of their 2015-16 starting lineup after the graduation of their senior class; but unlike 2013, Miami has equipped themselves with the talent to rebound.

Although Coach Larrañaga pointed out today that Miami has less than 13 scholarship players on their roster, a new breed of players is waiting under the wings.

The only question that remains is whether or not they will follow the culture Coach Larrañaga has instilled in the program, and overcome their inexperience to step up as leaders on the floor.