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Canes Hoops: Finding additional scholarship athletes

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Three of Miami’s core pieces are likely to be gone next season. Where will the Hurricanes look to find replacements?

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Dallas Practice Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

With Ja’Quan Newton graduating, and Bruce Brown Jr. and Lonnie Walker IV likely declaring for the draft, the Miami Hurricanes men’s basketball team will be looking at a bit of a rebuilding year.

The rest of the primary rotation players are expected to return, meaning the Canes will still have the likes of Dewan Huell, Chris Lykes, Anthony Lawrence II, Dejan Vasiljevic, Ebuka Izundu, and Sam Waardenburg. The team will also be adding Deng Gak and Miles Wilson who redshirted this season with the Hurricanes. This leaves the team with approximately eight rotation players and a need for more scholarship athletes, but where will it find them?

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-First Round-Miami vs Loyola Chicago
The Canes will need some new pieces with Lonnie Walker more than likely on his way out.
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

The most common avenue would be recruiting incoming freshman, but unfortunately that doesn’t seem to be a realistic option for Miami. According to 247sports.com, UM has officially offered 38 different players in the class of 2018. Of those 38, only two remain uncommitted, and both of those players are considered to have low interest in Miami. Considering how late in the recruiting process it is, this means that the Hurricanes will likely go the year without landing a recruit in the class.

So what other options do the Hurricanes have?

Jim Larranaga and his staff can target transfers, as they have been successful doing in the past; more specifically, transfers with immediate eligibility such as graduate transfers. A few possibilities were listed in our 2018-19 season outlook, but here we’ll take a more in-depth look at some of the more intriguing potential targets.

First up is Tre Campbell, a former Georgetown Hoya. The 6-foot-2 point guard was a four-star recruit who didn’t make much of an impact in his time at the school. He played three seasons with an average of 3.7 points per game on 34.7 percent shooting from the field. Campbell was released by the program before the start of the 2017-18 season, but he is reportedly hoping to catch on as a graduate transfer. Though he may not seem like a great fit for Miami, the hope would be that Coach L and his staff would be able to get the most out of a player with an intriguing background.

Larry Austin Jr. fits much of the same profile as Campbell. The 6-foot-2 guard was once a solid prospect as a three-star recruit. He has spent time at both Xavier and Vanderbilt, but averaged a mere 8.4 minutes per game in his career. With the Hurricanes in desperate need of point guard depth, taking a flyer on this project wouldn’t be the worst option available (though it’s not the best).

Another potential option at point guard is Aaron Calixte, the diminutive senior point guard who played for Maine. Though he is listed at just 5-foot-11, he was an effective scorer for the Black Bears. In the 2017-18 season he averaged 16.9 points per game on 47.6 percent shooting from the field and 38.6 percent from three. He also has a career assist percentage of 22, which would have been good enough for best on the team for the Hurricanes this season. If Miami is interested in Calixte, however, they will face competition from Lon Kruger and Oklahoma.

Next on the list is Ryan Taylor, the 6-foot-6 guard of Evansville, who played in the Missouri Valley Conference. As some might remember, the MVC is home to the Loyola-Chicago Ramblers who knocked Miami out of the NCAA tournament. Taylor, however, was the leading scorer in the conference, averaging 21.3 points per game. His shooting ability would be his most enticing attribute for the Canes, as he shot 42 percent from three on the season. Unfortunately, he has also been linked with Archie Miller and Indiana University, among other schools.

The most recent addition to the list of potential transfer targets is Keyshawn Woods of Wake Forest.

The 22-year-old guard was the Demon Deacons’ second-leading scorer and showed promise in his two seasons in Winston-Salem. His 2016-17 season was especially impressive, as he averaged 12.5 points per game on 49.5 percent shooting from the field and 43.8 percent from three. He also flashed impressive passing ability that season with an assist percentage of 21. This would be especially useful for the Hurricanes as the current roster is severely lacking in that department. While he did experience a drop-off in nearly every category in 2017-18, he still has the skillset to make a difference for Miami and should be a priority target.

According to verbalcommits.com, there are 48 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball players with immediate eligibility who are seeking a transfer and have not yet selected a new school. Unfortunately, many of those players either do not fit what Miami is looking for, or are simply not talented enough to make a difference in the ACC. Regardless, there will be many more players looking to transfer in the coming weeks and the Hurricanes are likely to be active in their pursuit of the best available.