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Making Moves: 6 Thoughts On Miami’s Latest Recruitment Success, The Future

Steven M. Falk / Inquirer

For what it seems, Jim Larranaga’s Miami Hurricanes are making sure they lock up their verbal commits quickly. After a busy early signing week, here are six takes from UM’s 2021 recruiting cycle.

1.) Miami keeping their commits locked in and signed.

2021 guards Nisine Poplar and Jakai Robinson made it official on the second week of November, signing their letters of intent to the University of Miami.

It all started with Poplar, who put pen to paper November 11th.

“We are excited to officially welcome Wooga and his family into our program,” Larranaga said in a statement issued by Miami. “Wooga is one of the most gifted athletes we have recruited in recent years. He’s also an outstanding 3-point shooter who will be a very good 3-and-D player.”

Poplar, who’s labeled as a four-star point guard by Rivals, chose the Hurricanes over multiple programs such as Auburn, Georgetown, Georgia and Marquette.

The 6-foot-4, 180-pound guard attends Math, Civics & Sciences Charter School (MC&S) in Philadelphia, where he comes off a junior campaign in which he averaged 22 points per game.

Next up came Robinson, who signed on November 14 in front of his teammates and family.

A four-star prospect according to 247Sports, Robinson committed to UM in early October, becoming the highest-rank player in the Hurricanes’ 2021 cycle.

Currently at Rock Creek Christian Academy in Maryland, the 6-foot-4 guard will look to hold onto the respect he’s merited.

2.) Bensley Joseph is the only commit yet to be signed.

The earliest commit of the triad, Joseph is the only one that has yet to sign their LOI with Miami.

This shouldn’t be a cause of concern, however, as he’s consistently shown his love for the program through social media and hasn’t given any indication that he’s lost interest.

Joseph, who’s ranked as the No. 1 guard in Connecticut, could simply be taking his time with the process until he’s extremely certain that Coral Gables is where he wants to be.

3.) Coach Larranaga’s prioritizing his George Mason pipeline.

As he has done in prior recruiting classes, Larranaga has kept his eyes laser focused on the prospect in areas he targeted at George Mason University.

Larranaga, who coached for the Patriots from 1997 to 2011, winning a total of 273 games and even reaching the Final Four in 2006, has looked into the Northeast and Southeast spots primarily. In fact, that’s exactly where his three commits have come from.

Bensley, Poplar and Robinson aren’t the only ones either, as Earl Timberlake Hyattsville, MD), Matt Cross (Wolfeboro, NH), Isaiah Wong (Drexel Hill, PA) and Anthony Walker (Wolfeboro, NH) among others, have been part of that long-lasting pipeline of Larranaga’s.

4.) All recruitment success aside, Miami still needs a center.

With the likely departure of seniors Nysier Brooks and Rodney Miller Jr. likely coming following the 2020-21 season, it’s up to Larranaga and his staff to find a big-man that can make a difference.

According to 247Sports, they’ve been targeting senior centers Mac Etienne and Jonas Aidoo.

Miami held a virtual visit with Etienne in the summer, showcasing the heavy interest they have in the No. 1 ranked player in New Hampshire. The 6-foot-10 prospect was previously considering reclassing and entering the collegiate level in 2020. However, that seems to not be the case anymore.

As for Aidoo, he recently listed Miami in his ‘Top 10,’ along with ACC programs such as Wake Forest and N.C. State. The seven-foot big-man has been described as a ‘Power-5 center’ by 247Sports’ Jerry Meyer, so it could be a valuable pickup for the Hurricanes in the long run.

5.) ACC ranking bound to drop, unless a significant commitment occurs.

Currently ranked at No. 2 in the 2021 ACC basketball team rankings, behind rival school Florida State, the Canes seemingly are as advanced as ever when it comes to bringing top-notch talent to the U.

That’s not the case, however.

Prestigious basketball programs like Duke, North Carolina and Louisville have yet to garner its entire class. And if their class will look anything like years prior, UM’s ranking will tumble significantly.

Regardless, it’s not about rankings or the ranking of each player, rather the impact a team believes they bring to the table.

6.) When will Larranaga, Miami eye South Florida prospects?

Assuming that a majority of the players are usually under the radar, it’s almost shocking to realize that Larranaga’s 2020 roster features not one player from the South Florida area.

That needs to change.

With St. Andrew’s School (Boca Raton, FL) Joshua Minott already signed to Memphis, the unanimous eye-catching prospect would be senior combo guard Wesley Cardet.

Cardet, who played at North East High School (Oakland Park, FL.) before transferring to West Oaks (Orlando FL.) this summer, has the skill set to be utilized on all sides of the court. At 6-foot-6, 175-pounds, Cardet is efficient at attacking the basket and providing a shot from mid-range when need be.

Cardet took an unofficial visit to the Coral Gables campus a while back, but interest between both sides has seemed to dwindle down. Still, there’s time for things to change. Only time will tell.

Along with Cardet, fellow teammates Matthew Bewley and Ryan Bewley, both 2023 prospects, are among those to have received an offer from UM. They’ll likely be highly touted on the recruiting board for years to come.

Michael Yero covers all of South Florida’s major pro teams, along with high school sports for 305 Sports. He also covers sports for Immaculata-La Salle High School’s student newspaper, the Royal Courier.

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