Miami Facing Tough Task in Replacing Shane Larkin

By Jeff Kelly
Geoff Burke – USA TODAY Sports

By the midway point of last season, Miami basketball coach Jim Larranaga probably had a pretty good idea that he would need to find a replacement for star point guard Shane Larkin. Sure enough, Larkin declared for the NBA Draft and was selected by the Dallas Mavericks, leaving the Hurricanes in search of someone to man what is arguably the most important position on the team.

To make matters worse, Kansas State transfer Angel Rodriguez was ruled ineligible to play this season, leaving the hole at the point guard spot much more gaping. After all, Rodriguez averaged solid numbers as a sophomore at K-State, scoring 11.4 points and dishing out 5.2 assists per game. Now the reins are being handed to an unproven freshman. The question remains, who will it be?

The most likely candidates are either Manu Lecomte or Deandre Burnett. Lecomte is a 5-foot-9 newcomer from Belgium, and was recruited more to serve in a backup role to either Larkin, who the Canes hoped would stick around for another season, or Rodriguez, who the Canes then hoped would gain his eligibility once they realized Larkin was as good as gone.

Burnett, on the other hand, is a 6-foot-2-hometown combo guard, a strong recruit who decided to stay home for college. The word on Burnett coming out of high school is that while he’s perfectly capable of running the point if needed, he is more of a shooting guard in a point guard body. He is what people refer to as a “volume scorer” in that he has the ability to fill it up from anywhere on the court. Naturally, you like having players who can score in a variety of ways. When it comes to point guards however, that probably isn’t your main priority.

Another wild card in the point guard mix is fellow freshman Davon Reed, a 6-foot-6 swing-player from New Jersey who has the rare combination of size and ball-handling skills to make him a serious contender for playing time at the point. If he can work his way into the rotation as the guy running the team and do so efficiently, he could help Larranaga put an impressive backcourt on the floor in terms of size and athleticism when paired with rising seniors Rion Brown and Garrius Adams, who both check in at 6-foot-6. After seeing how effective that kind of size at the guard positions can be for a team like Syracuse, Larranaga may be tempted to see how effective Reed can be in running the team.

It will be an interesting transition for Miami, as they must replace more than 85 percent of their scoring from last year, and along with Larkin, they also must replace Atlantic Coast Conference Defensive Player of the Year Durand Scott, who graduated this past spring. Still, most great college basketball teams start with the point guard position, and the trio of newcomers vying for that role will potentially make or break Miami’s season.

Jeff is an ACC basketball writer on Follow him on Twitter @jekelish and “Like” him on Facebook.

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