The Miami Hurricanes (4-2) need depth, and freshman forward Earl Timberlake adds so much more than that.
Quite honestly, he might be the best incoming prospect to represent coach Jim Larranaga’s program since 2017 – Bruce Brown, Lonnie Walker IV.
Timberlake – 6-foot-6, 215-pounds – was a consensus four-star prospect out of DeMatha Catholic (Md.), a common pipeline of Larranaga’s. He was honored as the top player in his state by three major recruiting outlets, and for good reason.
Timberlake showcased his talent on a plethora of occasions, leading his Stags team to a WCAC league title, going at it against No. 1 ranked prospect Jalen Green at the EYBL circuit, etc. Praised for his versatility and strength on the court, the promising forward now faces a new challenge at Miami: become the missing piece to the puzzle.
Timberlake made his Hurricanes debut last week versus Jacksonville State after missing the first five games with an ankle injury. In 25:31 minutes of action, he scored 12 points on 3 of 5 shooting and added four rebounds and two assists.
He sealed the 73-64 win with a steal and put-back layup with under a minute to play.
And even though it wasn’t the purest example of what’s to come from Timberlake – because of rust and his ankle injury – it does give hope for when he pairs up alongside a healthy ‘Canes team.
“One of the things about Earl Timberlake is that he is a great competitor,” Larranaga said postgame. “He’s gonna do everything possible to win. …He puts himself involved in almost every situation, whether it’s defense, rebounding, handling the ball, shooting the ball, getting other guys involved. He’s very, very active on both ends of the court.”
In the preseason, Larranaga, who’s in his 10th season at Miami, praised Timberlake’s ability to fight for rebounds, along with other traits that could’ve likely given him a starting spot over Matt Cross and Anthony Walker if he hadn’t gotten hurt.
“He is more physically ready than most freshmen,” Larranaga said. “He’s strong and athletic and is going to be a major contributor from day one.”
That said, Larranaga has noted that he has the trust in Timberlake to play at guard. In fact, his first time off the bench was to substitute Harlond Beverly and run the one. Larranaga added that his ball-handling makes him able to play from 1-4 and that he’ll definitely make mistakes along the way as he continues to learn more about his teammates.
“The one thing I know is that he’s also gonna turn the ball over,” Larranaga said. “And the reason I say that is he tries stuff, and until he gets really comfortable and confident of what his teammates can do, he’ll probably try some passes that maybe the guy is not ready for, maybe it’s a little too hard, too fast for the guy to catch it. But he’ll learn what they’re capable of and they’ll learn to be more prepared for the type of pass he’s capable of.”
The Washington, D.C. has work to do and much to prove, but the excitement coming from UM’s players and staff hints that Timberlake could be worth the hype.