The Jim Larrañaga era has undoubtedly been the most successful period in the history of Miami Hurricanes men’s basketball. 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 once
But behind every successful coach, lies a great coaching staff and great on-court talent. 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.
(+) Sixth man
(#) Not dressed
- 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 and 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 a huge threat behind the three-point line who could slice his way through defenses for layups.
His most notable season came after 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 America needs that one player that can get his team a bucket at any given situation, Sheldon McClellan was that guy 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
He may or may not be 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 overall 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 (career): 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, Kenny Kadji may be the most versatile scorer ever at The U. Standing at nearly seven feet tall, 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 Billy Donovan after being named the fifth best center by Rivals.com and Scout.com in 2008. ESPN ranked him in the top 50 on 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), and 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 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%
Career: 8.9 ppg; 7.2 rpg; 1.0 bpg; .512 FG%
- G - Bruce Brown (+), 6’5’’ 202 lbs. - Vermont Academy, Boston, MA
One of two Canes hoopers ranked in the top 50 of ESPN’s top 100 players in 2016, five-star shooting guard Bruce Brown signed with Miami and many expected him to be “one and done”. Responsible for Miami’s second and third triple double in program history, Brown was a do it all guy for Larrañaga who could score in a variety of ways as well as guard multiple positions thanks to his 6-9 wingspan.
Entering his freshman year, Brown was dependent on his athleticism but left Miami as a well-rounded basketball player worthy of being drafted with the 12th overall pick in the 2018 NBA draft by the Detroit Pistons. Currently, he is a key contributor in the New Jersey Nets rotation.
2016-17: 11.8 ppg; 3.2 apg; 5.6 rpg; .459 FG%
2017-18: 11.4 ppg; 4.0 apg; 7.1 rpg; .415 FG%
Career: 11.7 ppg; 3.5 apg; 6.2 rpg; .442 FG%
- G - Angel Rodriguez, 5’11” 185 lbs. - Dr. Krop HS, Cupey, Puerto Rico
There was no such thing as a dull moment whenever Angel Rodriguez was on the floor for the Canes. He and Sheldon McClellan provided an electric backcourt for coach L. The fiery point guard gave Miami fans plenty to cheer about, but it was his propensity to hit big shots in clutch moments along with his “never say die” attitude that made the him a fan favorite.
Blessed with skills to slice his way into the teeth of a defense using his lightning quick dribble and ability to drain three-point shots routinely, the former Kansas State Wildcat dazzled on the court and wore his heart on his sleeve, game in and game out.
Rodriguez left his native Puerto Rico at the age of 15 to come to Miami before committing to Frank Martin at KSU. How many “NO, NO, NO...YES, YES, YES!!!” moments did you experience watching Angel play?
2014-15: 11.9 ppg; 3.9 apg; .304 3PT%; .745 FT%
2015-16: 12.6 ppg; 4.5 apg; .341 3PT%; .800 FT%
Career (at Miami): 12.3 ppg; 4.2 apg; .323 3PT%; .769 FT%
- G/F - Davon Reed, 6’6’’ 208 lbs. - Princeton Day School (N.J.), Ewing, N.J.
Davon Reed’s name appears all across Miami basketball record books - a clear testament to his evolution as a player at Miami and one of the best to not only suit up in the Coach L era, but for Canes hoops all-time. Listed at fourth with consecutive games started (84), fourth in games played (131), fifth in 3-point field goal percentage (39.5%), seventh in 3-point field goals made (202), and sixteenth in scoring (1,343 pts.), Reed proved to be an all-around presence on the court.
At Miami, his best physical trait may have been defensive versatility led by his 7-foot wingspan which allowed him to cover multiple positions. Playing four seasons at Miami, his offensive game matured each year and he was clearly a locker room leader by his junior season. Reed’s success at Miami led him to be drafted in the 2nd round (32nd overall) of the 2017 NBA draft by the Phoenix Suns. He is now averaging 14 minutes per game with the Denver Nuggets - this highlight of him clamping down LeBron James is a reason why.
2013-14: 6.6 ppg; 1.7 rpg; .357 3PT%; .343 FG%
2014-15: 8.2 ppg; 4.0 rpg; .457 3PT%; .470 FG%
2015-16: 11.1 ppg; 4.1 rpg; .383 3PT%; .469 FG%
2016-17: 14.9 ppg; 4.8 rpg; .397 3PT%; .433 FG%
Career: 10.3 ppg; 3.6 rpg; .395 3PT%; .430 FG%
- F/C - Julian Gamble, 6’10” 250 lbs. - Southern Durham HS, Durham, NC
As a six-year player for the program, Julian Gamble provided experience, toughness, and was a major defensive contributor in the paint for Miami during their 2012-13 ACC championship run. Also a fan favorite because of his ability to excite the crowd with his hustle, “Jules” recorded career high in points twice (16), and ranks fifth in Miami history with 132 blocked shots.
He red-shirted during his first year on campus and was granted a medical red-shirt after tearing his left ACL in 2011. Gamble makes this team because of his ability to know and accept his role as a blue-collar, lunch pail guy, who was a defensive stalwart for Miami.
2008-09: 2.4 ppg; 2.5 rpg; 0.6 bpg; .435 FG%
2009-10: 3.5 ppg; 2.9 rpg; 0.8 bpg; .479 FG%
2010-11: 4.0 ppg; 3.4 rpg; 0.8 bpg; .598 FG%
2012-13: 6.5 ppg; 4.9 rpg; 1.8 bpg; .576 FG%
Career: 4.3 ppg; 3.5 rpg; 1.0 bpg; .544 FG%
- C - Tonye Jekiri, 7’0” 227 lbs. - Champagnat Catholic, Lagos, Nigeria
Immediate floor time was not something on Tonye Jekiri’s agenda when he arrived in Coral Gables. The Nigerian native who previously played soccer, was a project who required some development before he could see significant minutes in the ACC. However, realizing he had much to improve before being awarded playing time in arguably the best conference of college basketball, the Dennis Rodman and Kevin Garnett fan did what both of those basketball hall of famers would have done in his situation, work.
Jekiri made his basketball idols proud by developing into a solid ACC player starting 16 of 33 games as a sophomore after not starting any games during his true freshman season. He went on to start each game he played during his junior and senior seasons. At one point during his final year, Jim Larrañaga stated Jekiri deserved serious consideration for ACC DPOY after finishing third the year prior - the same season in which he led the ACC in rebounds (9.9 rpg all games; 10.9 ACC games).
The two-time all ACC defender improved each season at Miami and it was evident in offensive skillset and overall court awareness.
2012-13: 1.4 ppg; 1.6 rpg; 0.3 bpg; .514 FG%
2013-14: 4.2 ppg; 5.5 rpg; 0.9 bpg; .456 FG%
2014-15: 8.6 ppg; 9.9 rpg; 1.4 bpg; .500 FG%
2015-16: 7.6 ppg; 8.6 rpg; 1.0 bpg; .525 FG%
Career: 5.5 ppg; 6.5 rpg; 0.9 bpg; .501 FG%
- G/F - DeQuan Jones, 6’6” 217 lbs. - Wheeler HS, Stone Mountain, GA
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. Every basketball team needs at least one human highlight reel and this legendary dunk versus the North Carolina Tar Heels, ranks as one of the best dunks ever in school history - even 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; .533 FG%
2010-11: 4.5 ppg; 2.5 rpg; .419 FG%
2011-12: 5.9 ppg; 3.6 rpg; .451 FG%
Career: 4.6 ppg; 2.4 rpg; .440 FG%
- G - Durand Scott, 6’5” 203 lbs. - Rice HS, Bronx, NY
Hailing from perennial basketball power, Rice High School in Bronx, New York where he was a third-team Parade All-American, Durand Scott may be the most overlooked basketball player ever at UM. Averaging double digit scoring in each of his four years while being named to the ACC All-Defensive team in 2013 and winning the 2012-13 ACC DPOY award, he is easily one of the best and most dependable players to lace up for Jim Larrañaga.
Scott was so impactful defensively with 166 career steals (7th in program history), it is easy to forget he ended his career eighth on Miami’s all-time scoring list (1,650 pts.) and fifth in assists (404). Never mind shot 45% from the field throughout his career. Throw in the fact he started 125 of 132 games played, Scott can make an argument to start on this team.
2009-10: 10.3 ppg; 4.0 rpg; 3.4 apg; 1.2 spg; .455 FG%
20010-11: 13.6 ppg; 4.2 rpg; 3.1 apg; 1.2 spg; .445 FG%
2011-12: 12.9 ppg; 5.4 rpg; 3.1 apg; 1.0 spg; .453 FG%
2012-13: 13.1 ppg; 4.0 rpg; 2.6 apg; 1.5 spg; .453 FG%
Career: 12.5 ppg; 4.4 rpg; 3.1 apg; 1.3 spg; .451 FG%
- G - Kameron McGusty, 6’5” 192 lbs. - Sunrise Christian Academy (Kan.), Katy, TX
Kam McGusty was already an all conference performer prior to transferring to Miami as he was named to the 2016-17 Big12 All-Freshman team at OU. However his college career will be remembered as being a key cog on Miami’s first ever team to make an Elite 8 appearance.
McGusty was among the nation’s most skilled scorers and played best when the lights shined brightest, proving so by being named to the 2022 All-ACC tournament team, and scoring 77 points in four NCAA tournament games (19.3 ppg). The combination of his athleticism, first step, length, and shooting touch led to him being an elite 1 on 1 player as his scoring totals increased each year at Miami.
As a 2021-22 AP First Team All-ACC player, McGusty averaged 16.8 ppg in conference play. Another player that has a case to start on this team, McGusty was not drafted in the 2022 NBA draft, but recently signed on to play with the Detroit Pistons summer league team.
2019-20: 12.5 ppg; 4.0 rpg; 1.6 apg; .435 FG%; .750 FT%
2020-21: 13.3 ppg; 3.8 rpg; 2.8 apg; .445 FG%; .821 FT%
2021-22: 17.8 ppg; 4.9 rpg; 2.4 apg; .476 FG%; .814 FT%
Career (at Miami): 15.0 ppg; 4.3 rpg; 2.2 apg; .457 FG%; .800 FT%
- G/F - Anthony Lawrence II (#), 6’7” 210 lbs. - Lakewood HS, St. Petersburg, FL
Simply put, Anthony Lawrence II was a double-double machine. His father, Anthony Lawrence Sr. played at Miami from 1991-93, and Anthony Lawrence II decided to follow in his footsteps. At 6-7, 210 lbs. he played bigger than his frame - his importance to the team could never be questioned. A versatile player in Jim Larrañaga’s rotation, Lawrence saw the floor at multiple positions offensively, and guarded opposing wings and bigs routinely.
As a senior he finished the season with five double-doubles in his last seven games and approached a triple-double with 17 points, eight rebounds and career-high eight assists against FAU. His all-around offensive game allowed for him to finish his career tenth in minutes played with 3,300 and he is tied for fifth most with 130 career games played.
2015-16: 4.1 ppg; 1.9 rpg; 0.8 apg; .429 3PT%; .511 FG%
20016-17: 6.8 ppg; 3.8 rpg; 1.7 apg; .354 3PT%; .416 FG%
2017-18: 8.8 ppg; 6.5 rpg; 2.3 apg; .432 3PT%; .467 FG%
2018-19: 12.6 ppg; 6.7 rpg; 3.1 apg; .347 3PT%; .453 FG%
Career: 8.0 ppg; 4.7 rpg; 2.0 apg; .378 3PT%; .456 FG%
- F/C - Sam Waardenburg (#), 6’10’’ 225 lbs. - Rangitoto College, Auckland, New Zealand
Sam Waardenburg makes this team as the second big man that can stretch the floor - in this era of basketball it’s always good to have one or two on your roster.
Throughout his career his international playing experience proved to be a perfect fit at Miami as he showed the ability to run the floor, make pin-point passes, shoot the three-ball, and put the ball on the floor when defenders closed out on him. In 2016, he was listed as a top ten player at the 2016 Adidas Nations Tournament in Los Angeles - other players on that list included Zion Williamson and DeAndre Ayton.
In a relatively small rotation where Jordan Miller (6’7”) was the tallest player when Waardenburg was on the bench, his height proved to be an important factor for Miami all season long - namely during their March Madness run where he was indispensable as he came up clutch with timely blocks, rebounds, and crisp defensive rotations. His best tournament game came in the Sweet 16 versus Iowa State when he scored 13 points on 3-7 shooting from beyond the arc. He also chipped in with eight rebounds, five assists, and three blocks that game.
2017-18: 3.3 ppg; 2.8 rpg; 0.4 bpg; .438 3PT%; .414 FG%
20018-19: 5.3 ppg; 3.5 rpg; 0.3 bpg; .352 3PT%; .418 FG%
2019-20: 5.9 ppg; 6.0 rpg; 1.1 bpg; .250 3PT%; .412 FG%
2021-22: 8.5 ppg; 4.3 rpg; 1.3 bpg; .418 3PT%; .528 FG%
Career: 6.0 ppg; 4.3 rpg; 0.8 bpg; .369 3PT%; .456 FG%
That’s it, the official Mike McCoy and unofficial SOTU, Miami Hurricanes All-Larrañaga team.
Who should or should not have made the list?
What would your starting five look like?
Comment below with your thoughts or @ me on Twitter, let’s talk Canes hoops!