After a roller coaster season of injuries, NBA draft prospects, and a gut-wrenching NCAA first round tournament loss to Loyola-Chicago, the Canes must quickly shift their focus on the upcoming 2018-2019 basketball season where their roster could look very different.
The 2018-2019 roster currently awaits the NBA Draft announcements of sophomore guard Bruce Brown Jr. and freshman wing Lonnie Walker IV. Both players are projected to be top 20 picks in the draft, and both players are expected to leave, but no official announcement has been made yet. If no official announcement is made in the near future, expect both players to throw their names in the draft waters and work out at the NBA combine in May, as college players are now allowed to work out at the combine without hiring an agent before officially making a decision on their playing future. Sophomore forward, Dewan Huell, could also test the waters, but I would expect him to return as a focal point for the 2018-2019 Canes lineup.
Besides the potential NBA draft prospects, the Hurricanes will also lose point guard Ja’Quan Newton and walk-ons Mike Robinson and Chris Stowell. The senior class combined for 95 wins over their four years at The U. Newton played a pivotal role for the Hurricanes over the past four years reaching the NCAA tournament the past three years including a Sweet 16 appearance during his sophomore season and the NIT championship game during his freshman season. Newton amassed 1,145 points during his four year career and ranks seventh all-time in Hurricanes history in games played with 127.
For most programs, this is a potentially large departure, as the Canes will likely lose three starters and arguably their three best players. So how has Jim Larranaga and staff prepared their roster for the 2018-2019 season...?
Take a deep breath, sigh, and get ready to grind out another season in the ACC where the Canes can possibly contend for an NCAA tournament spot in 2018-2019 if they finish in the top 10 of their conference (which they should).
I wrote a few weeks ago about the current state of the 2018 recruiting class, that had ZERO commits at the time, and that problem currently remains. Coach Larranaga and staff will have to lean on the graduate transfer market to bolster their roster as well as redshirt freshman forward, Deng Gak, and Mount St. Mary’s guard transfer, Miles Wilson, who both sat out this season.
The biggest sign of life for the Canes next season will be the development of Chris Lykes and Dewan Huell. Lykes will likely be the starting point guard as a sophomore and made an immediate impact for the Canes this season, but can take some ill-advised shots at times. Look for Lykes to be more disciplined in year two and possibly be the leading scorer. Huell took that second year step this past season and his NBA draft prospect status will rise if he takes another leap in year three. Huell will be the post scorer and rim protector as well as the leader in the locker room for the Canes in 2018-2019.
With the recruiting class so far behind in this cycle, the Canes will probably focus on the graduate transfer market for a guard for the upcoming season while shifting the recruiting focus to 2019 and beyond.
Current guards that are immediately eligible through graduate transferring that Miami could have interest in for 2018-2019 (more transfer decisions will be made, so the list could update):
-Ryan Taylor, RS Junior, Evansville: 21.3 PPG, 42.6 FG%, 42.4 3PT%
-Kory Holden, RS Junior, South Carolina: injury-riddled season, originally transferred from University of Delaware. Miami had interest during his first transfer process
-Taishaun Johnson, Senior, Kent State: injury-riddled season, averaged double figures previous two years while shooting 38% from three.
-Tre Campbell, Senior, Georgetown: former four-star recruit from Washington, D.C. an area the Miami staff has recruited well. Ineffective at Georgetown, never averaging more than 4.1 PPG.
-Wil Bathurst, Senior, Cornell: Not a great shooter, but averaged 7.1 PPG, 3.6 RPG, and 3.1 APG.