There are three separate worlds when it comes to college basketball recruiting. The first two are familiar – recruiting high school players, and recruiting transfers who must sit out for a year, and are likely coming in with multiple years of eligibility, though the number of these transfers has increased to the hundreds every year. The truly new world is the recruiting of graduate transfers, players who have completed their undergraduate studies and are thus eligible to play immediately, likely for their final year of eligibility. This has led to a quasi-free agency market, where players look to find more minutes, play at a more prestigious level, or grasp one final chance at NCAA Tournament glory.The Miami Hurricanes have not shied away from going after the nation’s top transfers – and have proven that they can land those players, averaging an incoming transfer approximately every other recruiting class. Even more so, they have proven that they can develop those players into team leaders and All-Conference performers. Now CanesHoops is looking to do that again, in pursuit of Nebraska swingman Andrew White, a former top recruit who started his college career at Kansas
It is said that the transfer recruiting process can be explained in one word - “microwave.” Things heat up quickly – coaches often have to fit years of relationship building (or re-building) into just a few short weeks or months, and players need to pick a new school and get acclimated to their new teammates and coaching staff quickly while picking up a different type of academic workload. Many have thought Syracuse to be the favorite in White’s recruitment since he cut Michigan State from his list. But after receiving an official visit last week, Miami has reasons to feel it is in strong position with White. Looking at his publicly stated and heavily rumored reasons for transferring, let us look at Miami’s chances to land him.
Ready to Win and Make an NCAA Tournament run
Despite losing three starters, Miami is expected to compete for an NCAA berth again this year, with the addition of four players in its best ever recruiting class and newly eligible transfer Rashad Muhammad, twice San Jose State’s leading scorer. Veterans Davon Reed, Ja’Quan Newton and Kamari Murphy provide the leadership and stability to support the influx of talented, young players. Syracuse, fresh off a surprising Final Four run as a double-digit seed, has a bigger rebuild with their only returning starters in the frontcourt and a mid-major graduate transfer point guard running the show. Both teams will give White the opportunity to win in the ACC and make the tournament, but Miami will put a more balanced, experienced team around him.
Play In a Major City with an NBA Team and Greater NBA Exposure
Certainly, both schools will receive plenty of exposure playing in the ACC, and Syracuse and Jim Boeheim have excellent relationships with the NBA community. However, this is a no-brainer. The Miami Heat are a few miles down the road, and Coach Larrañaga and his staff have integrated extremely well with the NBA community, providing a home for offseason workouts for numerous players, who often play pickup with their college counterparts. The Hurricanes have a particularly symbiotic hometown relationship with the Heat, with Pat Riley and Eric Spolestra constantly supporting and cheerleading for the program and other front office visitors on campus from time to time. Additionally, Jay Larranaga (Coach L’s son) is a well-regarded assistant coach with the Boston Celtics and may soon run his own NBA team. What better exposure is there?
With the graduation of Sheldon McClellan and Angel Rodriguez, along with the transfer of James Palmer (ironically, to Nebraska), there is ample opportunity for White at the guard position. The Hurricanes need to replace nearly 75 minutes per game at the guard position, and over 160 made three-pointers across the roster. Syracuse too can offer tons of playing time and shots, but with little perimeter experience returning, will his teammates be able to help him get good shots that showcase his abilities, or will he face the same concerns he did at Nebraska?
Style of Play
Miami runs a professional-style, pick-and-roll offense with wrinkles that will have White taking shots and making decisions similar to those he would at the next level. Most importantly, Miami runs a physical, man-to-man defense that will allow scouts to see what White is capable of on both ends of the court. When one thinks of Syracuse, the patented 2-3 zone is mentioned most often, which can be a handicap (either real or perceived) to those with NBA aspirations.
This off-the-court factor might be the deciding one, and is another no-brainer in Miami’s favor. Miami assistant Jamal Brunt, who was formerly the associate head coach at Richmond, has known the Richmond native since his junior year of high school. This is actually his third recruitment of White, as Richmond tried to keep him home out of high school, and to bring him back when transferring from Kansas. Coach L and assistant coach Chris Caputo are both familiar with White, a Class of 2012 recruit who they first tried to recruit to George Mason, and later to Miami. Even the Director of Basketball Operations, James Johnson, is familiar – he recruited White while serving as the head coach at Virginia Tech. No other coaching staff has the same sort of relationships and trust, and that may make all of the difference in the world after his departure from Nebraska.
Miami appears to be a low-risk, high-comfort choice for Andrew White. The location, exposure, opportunity and relationship with the staff seemingly check all of the boxes on White’s wish list, or that of any transfer, in fact. Reports are that White’s visit went well and that he integrated well with the team, but the family is playing its cards close – there is no indication of when he might decide. Miami’s fall semester begins on August 22, and White would likely have to decide a few days before to enroll and get to campus on time. The Hurricanes program may be hanging on for a little while longer, but the hope is that good news is coming soon enough.
Editor’s Note: Thanks again to SOTU’s Hoops Consigliere, Josh Frank (@joshdacane) for his input and editing skills.