#15 Miami (FL) Men's Basketball 2017-2018 Preview

Miami Hurricanes
2017-2018 Overall Rank: #15
Conference Rank: #3 ACC
 Miami Logo
Miami made their second straight NCAA Tournament in 2017, but it was short-lived as they were handled by Michigan State in the first round. The Hurricanes were never ranked in the AP top-25, but they won 10 games in the stacked ACC and earned an 8-seed in the tournament. This season, Miami loses only two players from their rotation, but both players were full-time starters and top-4 scorers on the team. Jim Larranaga has an impressive recruiting class coming in though, headlined by top-20 prospect Lonnie Walker. Led by All-ACC caliber players Bruce Brown and Ja’Quan Newton, the Hurricanes look to be a well-balanced team that can compete for a conference title.
2016-17 Record: 21-12, 10-8
2016-17 Postseason:
NCAA Tournament
Jim Larranaga
Coach Record:
139-69 at Miami, 609-403 overall
Who’s Out:
Miami will only be without two players from last season, but both were key contributors to the Hurricanes’ trip to the NCAA Tournament. Davon Reed has graduated after earning All-ACC third team and All-ACC defensive team honors as a senior. Reed ranked fourth in school history with 131 games played, including 99 career starts. Reed led the team in scoring (14.9), made threes (2.4) and three-point percentage (39.7%) last year. Reed also added 4.8 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.3 steals per game. His presence on both ends of the floor will be difficult to replace. Kamari Murphy has graduated after spending two seasons at Miami. Murphy started all 33 games last year, averaging 7.1 points and 7.3 rebounds, both career-highs. Murphy was the Hurricanes’ only reliable big man last season, and they will need someone to step up and replace his production down low.
Who’s In:
Jim Larranaga has brought in three new recruits this season, led by five-star prospect Lonnie Walker. Walker is a McDonald’s All-American and a top-20 prospect nationally. Walker was ranked as the second-best shooting guard in the nation and brings NBA-level talent with him. Walker will give Miami another scoring wing to play alongside Ja’Quan Newton and Bruce Brown. Chris Lykes joins Miami as a four-star point guard who is ranked top-70 nationally. Lykes will be one of the smallest players in the nation at just 5-foot-7, but he has top scorer potential. Deng Gak is a four-star center who could see important playing time right away. The Hurricanes don’t have much returning experience in the paint, so Gak could earn minutes at center with a strong start to his freshman season. Sam Waardenburg will also be eligible this season after redshirting last year. Waardenburg was a three-star center from New Zealand who could give Miami some minutes down low.
Who to Watch:
Bruce Brown should be the Hurricanes’ best player this year after a great freshman campaign. Brown averaged 11.8 points, 5.6 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.5 steals in his debut season. Brown has NBA-caliber talent which he displayed when he notched the second triple-double in school history last year. Ja’Quan Newton will need to have a big season as the Hurricanes’ lone senior. Newton averaged 13.5 points, 3.5 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.1 steals last season. Newton can be a score-first guard, but needs to play as more of a leader on an inexperienced team this year. Anthony Lawrence will be a junior after starting 18 games a year ago. Lawrence averaged 6.8 points, 3.8 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.3 steals as a sophomore. Lawrence shot 35.4% from three, and will need to step up to replace Reed’s lost production from behind the arc. Dejan Vasiljevic can also be a threat from three-point range. Vasiljevic played 17.4 minutes per game as a freshman, but was still able to attempt 4.4 threes per game. Dewan Huell and Ebuka Izundu will need to step up in Murphy’s absence. Neither player saw more than 18 minutes per game last year. Huell is the best candidate to breakout as a former five-star recruit. Rodney Miller could also add depth down low, but had just 14 appearances as a freshman.
Final Projection:
Miami has been a team on the rise for a few seasons now, and this year’s squad could be Jim Larranaga’s most talented yet. Losing senior leaders Davon Reed and Kamari Murphy will be tough for the Hurricanes, but Miami will add five-star recruit Lonnie Walker along with two four-star prospects. Bruce Brown and Ja’Quan Newton both return with All-ACC potential, and Miami has a slew of underclassmen with potential on the roster. The Hurricanes have legitimate top-10 talent, but they will be relying on mostly inexperienced players. Miami will be a tournament team, but they could struggle early as their young players get acquainted.
Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA Tournament
Projected Starting Five:
Ja’Quan Newton, Senior, Guard, 13.5 points per game

Bruce Brown, Sophomore, Guard, 11.8 points per game
Lonnie Walker, Freshman, Guard, DNP last season
Anthony Lawrence, Junior, Forward, 6.8 points per game
Dewan Huell, Sophomore, Center, 5.8 points per game
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 69.0 (272th in nation, 13th in conference)

Scoring Defense: 64.1 (24, 2)
Field-Goal Percentage: 45.2 (127, 11)
Field-Goal Defense: 41.9 (74, 6)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 6.3 (267, 14)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 35.6 (143, 10)
Free-Throw Percentage: 71.8 (116, 8)
Rebound Margin: 4.0 (56, 3)
Assists Per Game: 11.8 (253, 15)
Turnovers Per Game: 12.6 (135, 12)
Madness 2017 Men’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#16 Lonnie Walker
#63 Chris Lykes
#108 Deng Gak