I’m not gonna lie, thinking about this season of Canes Hoops still hurts. For a team with so much promise and so many expectations coming into the season, a first-round exit in the Tournament feels like a letdown. At this time, however, we’re not here to look at what could’ve been, but instead to acknowledge the great performances from the Canes this season(yes, there were plenty of those). To start off our end-of-season awards, we’re giving out the big one, MVP.
Your 2017-18 Most Valuable Player is ... LONNIE WALKER IV
The Canes had a very evenly distributed amount of production from their top players this season. Their top 3 players each averaged either 11.5 or 11.4 points per game this season. However, of those 3, Bruce Brown Jr was only on the court for 19 games this season, and Dewan Huell, while showing the most improvement of any player from last year’s team, had extended stretches of the season where he was completely taken out of games and was buoyed by a hot start, which was followed by downward trend in production for most of the season. That leaves the biggest recruit the school has ever seen, freshman Lonnie Walker IV. While his numbers weren’t overly impressive (he averaged 11.5 points, 2.6 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 1 steal per game on 41% shooting and 35% from deep), he was the most consistent player for Miami from January through the end of the season. In the last 17 games of the season, Walker averaged 14.5 points per game, as opposed to 8.1 points per game through the first 15.
The stats do not tell the whole story (or even most of the story). The real reason Lonnie Walker IV is your MVP, is moments like this:
No other player delivered as many huge plays as Lonnie did this season. The first two videos shown above were clutch shots that delivered wins for Miami, and the third was an example of the momentum changing plays Lonnie would deliver all season. Lonnie started off the season slowly due to a meniscus tear he suffered in the offseason which kept him out for much of the preparation time leading up to the season. Once the freshman got going, however, we saw the lottery-pick potential we were told about since he signed. In his first start, Lonnie dropped 26 points against Boston University, and he followed that up with huge performances against Florida State, Duke, Louisville, Wake Forest, Notre Dame and Boston College. Later in the season, the freshman was the last shot option that is usually reserved for top players, and the moment was rarely too big for him.
Lonnie Walker IV also gave the Canes some conceptual victories as well. He showed that Miami can bring in NBA level (or one-and-done talent) talent and the environment wouldn’t feel too small. The Canes received plenty of national TV and media coverage this season, especially for a team that hovered around the back end of the top 25 for the majority of the season. Lonnie’s value to this team is also emphasized by the anxiety all of the Canes fans are currently feeling due to the possibility of the freshman leaving for the NBA. This is a foreign feeling for our fanbase, and while Lonnie’s continued presence in Coral Gables would certainly help build the program, not many could argue if he decided to turn pro in the coming weeks. If this is how it ends, we at least got one season of memorable plays from the Skywalker, and there will likely be plenty more at the next level for our MVP.