Imagine you hopped into a time machine to travel back to 2013, where Shane Larkin, Durand Scott and Julian Gamble find themselves in the midst of leading the University of Miami to its very first crowning as ACC regular season and tournament champions.
The next thing you know it’s 2007, and right before your eyes is Jack McClinton in Coral Gables, stepping back nailing three after three — all well beyond NBA range, of course.
— Stay with me here —
Find the days of Robert Hite and Guillermo Diaz, or way back to now-3x NBA Champion James Jones and even further to John Salmons and the G.O.A.T. Darius Rice. Hell, if you’re prepared for what Miami in 1965 offers, take a look at Hall of Fame inductee Rick Barry perfecting that signature underhand free-throw.
Now switch the transmission from reverse to drive and head to November of this year, where coach Jim Larranaga leads the modern Hurricanes onto the hardwood to begin the perennial search for glory or, at the very least, a ticket past the Sweet Sixteen in the Big Dance.
But this isn’t just any team.
The 2017 squad is objectively the most talented roster in the school’s history, and headlined by a returning Bruce Brown and a few highly touted freshman, like Lonnie Walker, Deng Gak and Chris Lykes, truly speaking, it’s not even close.
Lace 'em up. It's time to get better. pic.twitter.com/JpOU0g0zR0— Canes Hoops (@CanesHoops) July 7, 2017
Take all the Canes legends you visited on your Time Machine Tour (or didn’t — just play along), put them on one team together and they just might put up a fight.
Sure, that’s a slight exaggeration, nevertheless, quit playing god for a moment and hear me out as to why this irregular Hurricanes team shouldn’t settle for Elite Eight-level goals.
Brown — a projected first round pick in this year’s draft, had he entered — is returning to Coral Gables for a Sophomore campaign and his shot at making history, and the guard is thee prime reason behind Miami’s imminent rise. He averaged 11.8 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 3.2 assists as a freshman, is an ACC Player of the Year favorite and loves the limelight, evidenced by his best performances coming against perennial heavyweights like Duke and UNC.
It’s necessary to realize there is a good reason Brown chose to return, and I’m confident it has little or nothing to do with raising his draft stock. That’s where this year’s signees come in ...
In a game powered by 18 and 19-year-olds, these Canes have a few to offer. The names behind ESPN’s No. 12, 46 and 92-rankings in the 2017 Recruiting Index — Walker, Lykes and Gak — are roster additions. Walker, who’s been receiving one-and-done buzz for some time, and Lykes will step onto campus ready to contribute from the jump. (Gak projects to be more of a project for Coach L, for now.)
Lest we forget, role players keep the ship sailing, thus, the return of Ja’Quan Newton, Dewan Huell, Anthony Lawrence, Jr. and Ebuka Izunda cannot be overlooked.
While losing Davon Reed, the bonafide leader and heartbeat of last year’s team, to the NBA would kill the Hurricanes in years passed, the truth is replacing your lost talent year-to-year is the key to success in today’s college hoops landscape and, finally, Coach Larranaga’s recruiting chops are standing out nationally.
With news the 2017 recruiting class recently landed on campus, enrolling in their initial courses, it’s hard not to get excited about this year’s potential.
While the Canes may not sniff the Final Four come Spring 2018, for the first time ever that development would be a major disappointment.