Over the past few weeks, Canes Hoops has been busy trying to replenish the talent on the court with transfers. They now need to look to replenish talent on the sideline as well. Friday morning, VCU head coach Mike Rhoades announced that Miami assistant coach Jamal Brunt would be joining his staff at VCU. Title-wise, it appears to be a lateral move, although there is a pervious connection, as Brunt played for and coached with Rhoades at Randolph-Macon College.
Prior to joining the coaching staff in Miami, Brunt spent the previous 10 years as a part of Richmond’s coaching staff. He has coached for three seasons in Coral Gables, as Coach Larranaga hired his ‘offensive coordinator’ in 2015. The Canes were successful during those seasons, finishing with 20-plus wins each season, as well as 3 trips to the NCAA tournament, including a Sweet-16 finish in his first season. Brunt has been credited with mentoring former Cane Davon Reed (1,343 career points) as well as recent NBA Draft entrant Bruce Brown Jr.
Where Jamal Brunt’s impact was perhaps most felt was in recruiting, where the assistant helped Miami form its highest-rated class ever in 2017, bringing in the 7th-ranked haul of Lonnie Walker IV, Chris Lykes, and Deng Gak. The other recruits brought in from 2015-17 include Dewan Huell, Bruce Brown Jr, Sam Waardenburg, Dejan Vasiljevic, and Rodney Miller (so basically the entire team this season). Of course, Miami was unable to bring in any recruits this year, although their efforts were hamstrung by the FBI investigation into college basketball, and Miami was on the shortlist of a few of the nation’s top recruits.
The Canes’ offense sputtered at times this past season, resulting in losses that were tough to swallow (Georgia Tech, Boston College, New Mexico St, late vs Duke, down the stretch vs Loyola), however, there were also plenty of strong offensive showings for this young squad (86 pts vs Minnesota, 86 pts vs NC State, 94 pts vs Fla State, 91 pts vs UNC). Coach Brunt made his presence felt on this team and will be missed, but there was definitely still room for improvement in the program, and the need for a new assistant is now an opportunity to add even more talent to the coaching staff. An early wish list for many Canes fans would be someone who could implement more ball movement and add variety to our offensive sets. With Lonnie Walker IV and Bruce Brown entering the draft this season (and Dewan Huell still contemplating), player development will also be more crucial than ever as the remaining Canes will need to grow into larger roles to maintain the recent levels of performance with Miami Basketball.
Coach Brunt, we thank you for your 3 years with the program, and we wish you all the best in the future.