I’m finally wrapping up my “projected lineup” series with the Miami Hurricanes. I started this a while ago with Boston College, but in all honesty, I had to wait. With no players on the Canes’ roster, Jim Larranaga had to go out get himself some bodies…and he’s done just that. Now it’s time to see where all the new pieces fit.
GONE: To save time, let’s just say, everybody.
PROJECTED STARTING LINEUP
PG – Angel Rodriguez (JR), 5-11/180
SG – Garrius Adams (SR), 6-6/195
SF – Rion Brown (SR), 6-6/200
PF – Donnavan Kirk (SR), 6-9/225
C – Tonye Jekiri (SO), 7-0/230
Really the only thing that matters right now is Angel Rodriguez’s eligibility. Will he get his hardship waiver? I’m going to say he does, in which case, go ahead and pencil him in as Shane Larkin’s replacement. The former Kansas State Wildcat is the perfect point guard to lead a team that will still be trying to get to know each other when the season begins. He’s a pass-first floor general, who will attack the paint.
I originally had freshman Deandre Burnett starting in a four-guard offense, but then Larranaga brought in Donnavan Kirk. The former Cane-turned Blue Demon is back in South Beach and something tells me he picked Miami because the coaching staff probably made him certain promises, like a good chance to start.
Personally, I’m not that high on Kirk. Yes, he’s got good size and is a solid defender, but he’s not a strong rebounder and he’s limited offensively. Yet, he may be the best option by default at the four-spot.
Ironically, despite losing seven players this off-season, the Canes potentially will start three seniors. Besides Kirk, both Garrius Adams and Rion Brown will start in their final season.
Adams was once a significant sub, but had to redshirt last year due to injury. Now with everyone gone, he should be able to step in at the 2/3 spot. He’s a versatile player with good size, length and athleticism. He’s also a solid on the ball defender, so that should keep him on the floor for long stretches at a time. His only major flaw is he’s not a good outside shooter.
Brown is the opposite of Adams. He too is a good athlete, but he relies mostly on outside shooting. The kid jacks up threes…lots of them. Now it was fine his first two seasons, but last year his three-point percentage fell below 30-percent. In the end though, his biggest issue is, despite the athleticism, he’s a terrible ball handler and he can’t/won’t create his own shot, unless he’s slashing without the ball trying to produce a Sportscenter worthy dunk.
Now the X-factor in all of this is in the middle. Tonye Jekiri is just a sophomore and got one good year to sit and learn the position. Long and lean, the big fella likes to run ahead of the pack. He’s a great finisher, a solid rebounder and can swat some shots on the defensive end. However, he has yet to demonstrate any post moves. If he can deliver a couple of inside tricks and avoid foul trouble, he could be a sleeper in the ACC.
SG – Deandre Burnett (FR), 6-2/190
SG – Davon Reed (FR), 6-5/175
PF – James Kelly (JR), 6-7/240
Both Deandre Burnett and Davon Reed are two rookies I like a lot. Burnett is a scorer..plain and simple. He drives, he slashes, he puts up floaters and he can hit a three. He can also play point, which may come handy if Angel Rodriguez doesn’t get his waiver.
Right now, I have the seniors Adams and Brown starting, because if Larranaga proved anything, it’s that he loves seniors. However, if either of these guys falter, Burnett could easily step in and be a producer.
Luke Burnett, Reed is an experienced combo guard, capable of running the point. He’s a skilled athlete, with good vision and creativity. However, he’ll need to work on his shooting mechanics, because he’s not a great outside shooter.
James Kelly comes from Owens Community College where he averaged a productive 18.3 points and 10.1 rebounds. He’s a inside/outside power forward, who might remind people of Julian Gamble, with a little range added in for fun. My concern with Kelly is defensively. Does he have the quickness to handle the more athletic folks in the ACC? For now, he’s the best option off the bench inside. Kirk can slide over to the five, while Kelly takes over at the four.
SF – Erik Swoope (SR), 6-6/235
PF – Raphael Akpejiori (SR), 6-10/240
It’s hard to pick where Larranaga will use both Erik Swoope and Raphael Akpejiori. Yes, they both are seniors, but both have been huge busts while in Coral Cables. Swoope in particular has disappointed me (My mother disappointed me once…just once). Anyhow, I really expected him to be a sleeper stud by his junior year. Instead, he played about six minutes per game last year, averaging 1.6 points per game.
The fact is, he’s a superior athlete, but he has developed zero offensive game and is incapable of extending his range.
Akpejiori also came to Miami known for his athleticism, as well as his motor, but he’s develop no offensive moves and can do little or nothing with his back to the basket. It’s hard to get minutes if you force your team to play four-on-five when you’re in the game.
SG – Manu Lecomte (FR), 5-11/165
SF – Derrick Griffin (FR), 6-6/220
PG – Corn Edler (FR), 5-11/170
Lecomte comes over from Europe. Again, if A-Rod doesn’t get his waiver, Lecomte could see some serious minutes off the bench, but for now, I got Angel in and Lecomte spending a year learning and gaining some weight. The Belgium is quick with the ball and is known as a good decision maker, but he’s extremely undersized and he’s not a good outside shooter.
Both Derrick Griffin and Corn Edler are football players, moonlighting as basketball players.
Griffin has great length and a gift for putting the ball in the basket. He likes to attack and he seeks out contact. Meanwhile, Elder is a point guard who plays the position like a running back. He’s fast and athletic, always in attack mode. He’s also a fearless defender, which could land him some important minutes.
However, the issue with both these guys is, when do they start to play basketball? If they don’t start until after the football season is over, you’re talking about the end of December or early January (I’m assuming the Hurricanes football team goes to a bowl game this year). If this is the case, it’s not going to be easy for freshmen to walk in and be ready to play at the beginning of ACC play.