#19 Miami (FL) Men's Basketball 2016-2017 Preview

Miami Hurricanes
2016-2017 Overall Rank: #19
Conference Rank: #5 ACC
Miami has some rebuilding to do, but with arguably the best recruiting class in school history, the Hurricanes are ready to make another run towards the Sweet Sixteen. A lot of pressure will be on Ja’Quan Newton. He has been biding his time behind some very talented players, but now it is his time to shine. Newton averaged 10.5 points and 2.5 assists coming off of the bench as a sophomore and he will have to turn into a floor leader now.
2015-16 Record: 27-8, 13-5
2015-16 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Jim Larranaga
Coach Record: 118-57 at Miami, 588-391 overall
Who’s Out:
Angel Rodriguez and Sheldon McClellan leave big shoes to fill on the perimeter. Rodriguez dished out 4.5 assists per game and was second on the team with 12.6 points per game. McClellan was one of the most efficient shooting guards in the country. He shot 50.4 percent from the floor and 40.6 percent from beyond the arc. McClellan averaged a team high 16.3 points per game. The backcourt also lost James Palmer who averaged 3.4 points in limited action as a sophomore. Tonye Jekiri and Ivan Cruz Uceda are the losses in the frontcourt. Jekiri, a seven-footer, started all 35 games and averaged 7.6 points and a team high 8.6 rebounds.
Who’s In:
Bruce Brown and Dewan Huell highlight a great recruiting class. Brown, a combo guard out of Boston, is a superb athlete who can shoot from long range and play solid defense. Huell, a 6-11 forward, will likely step right into the starting lineup. He has a nice mid-range jumper to go along with his ability to mix it up in the paint. Rodney Miller, a seven-foot center, has a ton of potential, but it remains to be seen if he is physically ready to compete in the ACC as a freshman. The last of the freshmen is Dejan Vasiljevic, a talented and versatile Australian guard. He can run the show, play solid defense and shoot the ball from anywhere on the floor. San Jose State transfer Rashad Muhammad brings some more scoring prowess to the backcourt. He led the Spartans in scoring as a freshman and sophomore and, at 6-6, can help out on the glass too.
Who to Watch:
Along with Newton, Davon Reed, Anthony Lawrence and Kamari Murphy are back to play a bigger role on this year’s team. Reed is a versatile scorer who connected on 38.3 percent of his three-point attempts and used his 6-6 frame to attack the basket effectively. As the team’s top returning scorer, Reed should take over the main scoring role for the Hurricanes. Lawrence is a promising sophomore wing who proved in limited action last season that he can be an effective scorer from anywhere on the floor. Lawrence can also handle the ball quite well for a 6-7 forward and could spend some time with the ball in his hands if Newton runs into any trouble. Murphy averaged just 5.6 points per game, but he is capable of much more now that he should have more opportunities. Murphy is also a very strong rebounder and a decent shot blocker.
Final Projection:
Miami has the talent to be an extremely dangerous team. They will have to rely quite heavily on freshmen, but with this group, that should not be a problem at all. As long as Newton can become a floor leader and reduce his turnovers, Miami will get back to the NCAA Tournament and by then Coach Jim Larranaga will have his regular rotation sorted out and know exactly what he will be getting from his newcomers. By March, no team will want to run into this Miami squad.
Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA
Projected Starting Five:
Ja’Quan Newton, Junior, Guard, 10.5 points per game
Bruce Brown, Freshman, Guard, DNP last season
Davon Reed, Senior, Guard, 11.1 points per game
Kamari Murphy, Senior, Forward, 5.6 points per game
Dewan Huell, Freshman, Forward, DNP last season
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 75.2 (120th in nation, 4th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 67.4 (64, 6)
Field-Goal Percentage: 47.9 (24, 3)
Field-Goal Defense: 43.1 (148, 6)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 6.9 (183, 6)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 37.5 (44, 3)
Free-Throw Percentage: 74.9 (23, 3)
Rebound Margin: 2.0 (115, 8)
Assists Per Game: 12.5 (226, 13)
Turnovers Per Game: 10.9 (32, 6)
Madness 2016 Men’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#26 Dewan Huell
#27 Bruce Brown
#120 Rodney Miller