With five seniors among its top six scorers, the ACC champion Miami Hurricanes will look far different in 2013-14. The one player among those six who isn’t due to graduate is sophomore point guard Shane Larkin, who proved to be one of the nation’s best point guards as the season progressed.
Larkin’s skill has put him in position to possibly leave school early to enter the NBA Draft, with many expecting Larkin to be a first round selection.
And in response to a tweet from Jorge Milian of the Palm Beach Post that he would forego his final two seasons of eligibility, Larkin denied the report and announced that he will make his decision public Sunday evening.
In 36 games Larkin averaged 14.5 points, 4.6 assists and 3.8 rebounds per game for the Hurricanes, who won their first-ever ACC title and reached the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament.
(CLICK HERE to follow along with who is turning pro and who is returning to school.)
If Larkin were to move on to the professional ranks Miami’s leading returning scorer would be rising senior Rion Brown, who averaged 6.4 points per game in 2012-13. Brown would also be the lone returnee to average double-digit minutes (22.2 mpg), with center Tonye Jekiri (6.9 mpg) and forward Erik Swoope (6.0 mpg) being next in line in that regard.
Head coach Jim Larrañaga and his staff have signed two talented shooting guards in the 2013 class, Deandre Burnett and Davon Reed, and both figure to receive plenty of chances to earn playing time given how much Miami loses production-wise.
If Larkin were to return those two would get the chance to learn from one of the nation’s best floor generals. But if he goes, the task of returning to the NCAA tournament becomes incredibly difficult.
Miami hasn’t reached the NCAA tournament in consecutive seasons since making three straight appearances from 1998 to 2000.
Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.
GAME OF THE NIGHT: No. 10 West Virginia at No. 6 Kansas, 7:00 p.m.
The last time these two teams got together, West Virginia actually knocked off Kansas in Morgantown. It was the third time in the last three seasons that WVU has beaten KU at home. So there’s some revenge at stake here. But there’s also the whole Big 12 title race, which West Virginia currently leads. If the Mountaineers win tonight, they’ll be up by two games on Kansas with the tie breaker and just seven games left to play. The Jayhawks regular season title streak could be over if that happens.
THIS ONE’S GOOD, TOO: No. 8 Michigan State at No. 18 Purdue, 7:00 p.m.
We think the Spartans are back to their early season form after wins over Maryland (at home), Northwestern, Rutgers and Michigan. If Michigan State really wants to prove something to the college basketball world, they will go into West Lafayette tonight and get a win. Denzel Valentine vs. Raphael Davis will be fun.
FIVE THINGS TO WATCH FOR
- Pitt will pay a visit to No. 12 Miami in a game the Panthers could really use a win in. Pitt hasn’t been the most consistent team in the country and without adding a few quality wins they could be looking at the bubble.
- Duquesne will be paying a visit to No. 19 Dayton, who moved into a tie for first place in the Atlantic 10 thanks to VCU’s loss on Saturday.
- Georgia is right there on the bubble, and they will have a chance to try and push themselves into a better spot when they play at No. 22 Kentucky tonight.
- Creighton probably has to win out to have a shot of making the NCAA tournament, and that includes tonight, when they host No. 5 Xavier.
- No. 7 Virginia will be hosting Virginia Tech, who picked off the Wahoos in Blacksburg earlier this year.
THE REST OF THE TOP 25
- No. 1 Villanova at DePaul, 8:30 p.m.
- No. 25 Wichita State at Drake, 8:00 p.m.
It’s Tuesday, which means that it is once again time for the NBC Sports Player of the Year Power Rankings.
And you’ll be shocked to find out that Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield is still No. 1 in those rankings. By a pretty wide margin.
The rest of the top 10?
They can be found here, at the CBT FaceBook page. Follow that page for the countdown: