The Jim Larrañaga era has undoubtedly been the most successful period in the history of the Miami Hurricanes men’s basketball program. He has taken Miami basketball to heights never before seen.
Under Larrañaga, Miami has:
- won the most games in a season (29, 2012-13)
- won both a regular season and conference tournament title in the same year
- beaten the legendary Mike Kryzyzewski on seven different occasions
- beaten a No. 1 ranked team (Duke) by the third largest margin ever
- made the NCAA tournament five times, while advancing to the Sweet 16 twice, and earning an Elite 8 appearance one
But behind every successful coach, lies a great coaching staff and great on-court talent. And in the 11 years Larrañaga has spent in Coral Gables, he has been fortunate enough to coach a number of all-conference, all-freshman, and all-american players - some going on to play in the NBA.
So what does the list of the best players to play under Larrañaga look like? From 2011 through today who are the best scorers, shooters, most athletic, most memorable players in the coach L era?
Who is engrained in your mind as a staple for one of the best 15 players Jim Larrañaga has coached at Miami?
Through the years it was either a streaky Sheldon McClellan getting hot beyond the arc, Lonnie Walker dazzling the crowd with his athleticism, Angel Rodriguez coming up clutch with a timely three, or DeQuan Jones falling from the rafters with an aerial display of dunks nobody has ever seen...take your pick.
Coach L and staff were fortunate enough to have some of the best to lace up for Miami play under them.
This list was not an easy one to finalize as there were a handful of ballers to miss the cut. Everything from statistics, impact the player had on the program, accolades earned, records set/broken, and show-stopping/memorable moments were considered when selecting players.
Without further ado, here is the official Mike McCoy and unofficial SOTU, Miami Hurricanes All-Larrañaga team.
NOTE: Just like in the NBA, there are 15 players on a college basketball roster. However, there are a definite 13 players that can be on the bench during a game.
- PG - Shane Larkin, 5’11” 175 lbs. - Dr. Phillips HS, Orlando, FL
A 2012-13 Lute Olson National Player of the Year, Bob Cousy Award Finalist (top 5), Naismith Player of the Year candidate (top 30), and son of 12-time MLB all-star Barry Larkin, Shane made a name for himself while shining at a different school, playing a different sport than his father. Larkin, a four-start point guard originally committed to DePaul University but transferred to Miami before the start of his freshman year.
Known for his play-making abilities, effectiveness in pick and roll situations, and high basketball acumen especially in the half-court, Larkin was an integral piece and leader on the Hurricanes 2012-13 team that won the ACC regular season and tournament title. He also was also a huge threat behind the three-point line who could slice his way through defenses for layups.
His most notable season came immediately following being named to the ACC All-Freshman team. “SugaShane”, a name given to him by his favorite athlete growing up, Deion Sanders, averaged 14.5 points per game while shooting 40% from three. Additionally, Larkin was honored with the ACC Player of the Year award as voted by coaches following his sophomore campaign.
2011-12: 7.4 ppg; 2.5 apg; .323 3PT%; .857 FT%
2012-13: 14.5 ppg; 4.6 apg; .406 3PT%; .777 FT%
Career: 11.2 ppg; 3.6 apg; .375 3PT%; .808 FT%
- SG - Sheldon McClellan, 6’5” 200 lbs. - Bellaire HS, Houston, TX
Every basketball team in American needs that one player that can get his team a bucket at any given situation, Sheldon McClellan was exactly that during his time at The U. A premier “bucket getter”, McClellan called the University of Texas home for the first two years of his career before transferring to Miami and sitting out the 2013-14 season.
McClellan’s offensive arsenal was something to behold as the athletic wingman displayed tremendous leaping ability and an array of dribble moves to shake defenders loose as seen in this video at the 40-second mark. He was also one of Miami’s best 3-pt threats that could go on a tear at any given moment. McClellan is easily one of the best 1 on 1 players to ever suit up for coach L.
2014-15: 14.5 ppg; 4.7 rpg; .358 3PT%; .824 FT%
2015-16: 16.3 ppg; 3.2 rpg; .406 3PT%; .838 FT%
Career (at Miami): 15.3 ppg; 4.0 rpg; .381 3PT%; .832 FT%
- SF - Lonnie Walker, 6’5” 204 lbs. - Reading HS, Reading, PA
Yes, he’s playing out of position on this team - who cares? The highest ranked recruit to ever sign with the University of Miami basketball program, Lonnie Walker IV lived up to his five-star potential in his lone season as a Cane. A 2017 McDonald’s All-American and Jordan Brand Classic All-American, Walker was the 12th ranked player in the nation, second at his position, and first in Pennsylvania according to ESPN.
An athletic specimen with a 6-10 wingspan, explosive first step, and the ability to finish at the rim with ferocity, Walker was the first freshman in school history to earn all-league honors as an All-ACC honoree. He was also named to the All-ACC Freshman Team and led Miami’s balanced scoring attack with 11.5 points per game.
His shooting touch allowed him to be a versatile scorer and one of the most talented players in America, on his way to becoming the 18th overall pick in the 2018 NBA draft.
2017-18: 11.5 ppg; 1.9 apg; 2.6 rpg; .346 3PT%; .738 FT%
- PF- Kenny Kadji, 6-11 242 lbs. - Pendleton/IMG Academy, Douala, Cameroon
Nevermind the Larrañaga era, Keny Kadji may be the most versatile scorer ever at The U. Standing at nearly seven feet tall, Kenny Kadji provided mismatches on most nights due to his ability to stretch floor as a three-point threat. Once his shot was falling he was a load to handle whenever he decided to put the ball on the floor and attack the basket.
Kadji began his college career at the University of Florida where he originally committed to play for Billy Donovan after being named the fifth best center by Rivals.com and Scout.com in 2008 and ranked in the top 50 of the ESPNU 100 list.
A complete basketball player providing shot blocking ability for Larrañaga, he also led the team in rebounding in both seasons played at Miami. The iron man also is tied for first in school history with games started (64) and 9th in school history with a .479 field goal percentage.
Check out Kadji’s official 2013 highlights as presented by the ACC Digital Network here.
2011-12: 11.7 ppg; 5.3 rpg; 1.6 bpg; .418 3PT%
2012-13: 12.9 ppg; 6.8 rpg; 1.3 bpg; .351 3PT%
Career (at Miami): 12.4 ppg; 6.1 rpg; .373 3PT%
- C - Reggie Johnson, 6’10” 292 lbs. - Winston-Salem Prep, Winsten-Salem, NC
Reggie Johnson may go down as the most skilled big man in Canes hoops history. At first glance, the near 300 lb. behemoth comes off as a one-dimensional post-player; only capable of banging down low. However “Big Reg” possessed nimble feet, with a soft touch around the rim, including a 7-2 wingspan.
A focal point of the Miami attack for much of his career, Johnson is one of 34 Hurricanes all-time to score 1,000 points or more. He also ranks 7th in rebounds (842), ninth in blocked shots (113). He shot a career high .591% from the floor during his sophomore campaign, a season which he posted career highs for points per game and rebounds per game.
Johnson was named to the 2011 All-ACC Honorable Mention Team and the 2010 ACC All-Tournament Second Team.
2009-10: 6.4 ppg; 4.6 rpg; 0.7 bpg; .522 FG%
2010-11: 11.9 ppg; 9.6 rpg; 1.3 bpg; .591 FG%
2011-12: 10.0 ppg; 7.2 rpg; 1.0 bpg; .500 FG%
2012-13: 6.7 ppg; 7.0 rpg; 0.9 bpg; .400 FG%
- G - Bruce Brown, 6’5’’ 202 lbs. - Vermont Academy, Boston, MA +
- G - Angel Rodriguez
- G/F - Davon Reed
- PF - Julian Gamble, 6’10” 250 lbs. - Southern Durham HS, Durham, NC
- C - Tonye Jekiri
- G/F - DeQuan Jones
Easily one of the most electrifying dunkers in the history of the program, Canes fans knew they were in for a treat whenever DeQuan Jones decided to attack the rim. He makes this list as a top three hoops athlete in Miami Hurricanes history, because every basketball team needs at least one human highlight reel, and this legendary dunk versus the North Carolina Tar Heels in which the UNC bench had a hard time composing themselves.
2008-09: 2.7 ppg; 1.7 rpg; .337 FG%
2009-10: 5.7 ppg; 2.1 rpg; .667 FG%
2010-11: 4.5 ppg; 2.5 rpg; .708 FG%
2011-12: 5.9 ppg; 3.6 rpg; .678 FG%
- G - Durand Scott, 6’5” 203 lbs. - Rice HS, Bronx, NY
- G - Kameron McGusty
- G - Anthony Lawrence II#
- F - Sam Waardenburg, 6’10’’ 225 lbs. - Rangitoto College, Auckland, New Zealand #
+ Sixth man
# Not dressed
Who should or should not have made the list? What would your starting five look like? Comment below with your thoughts.