Good news for University of Miami basketball fans: Coach Jim Larrañaga said he expects five-star freshman Lonnie Walker to be recovered from knee surgery in time for the season opener against Gardner Webb Nov. 10.
Walker, a 6-4 shooting guard from Reading, Pa., tore the meniscus in his right knee on the final possession of practice last Tuesday. He had surgery on Friday morning.
“He’s handled it like a real professional,” Larrañaga said. “He’s upbeat. Obviously, when he got hurt, he was very, very disappointed. But his willingness to do whatever he’s been asked to do has been tremendous. Our trainer and physical therapist are very, very excited about how he appears after the surgery. Sometimes, strength is a real problem for guys after surgery, but his strength seems to be very good.”
Walker was a 2017 McDonald’s All-American and Jordan Brand Classic All-American. He is projected by many NBA scouts to be a first-round pick in the 2018 draft.
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Dewan Huell has been showing up at the gym at 5:30 a.m. and had “had days he’s been the leading scorer in practice,” Larrañaga said. Huell was invited to the Adidas Nations tournament next month.
Sam Waardenburg, who played for New Zealand at the recent FIBA U-19 tournament, and Anthony Lawrence are expected to be big three-point threats this season.
Ebuka Izundu was “the dominant big man” in Monday’s practice, Larrañaga said. He, Huell and Rodney Miller will be a “three-headed monster” in the paint.
With two Sweet 16s over four years, and Hurricanes reaching the NBA on a regular basis, the program has been able to attract higher-caliber recruits in recent years. Five-star point guard Immanuel Quickley has narrowed his choices to Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland and Miami. He is scheduled to visit UM the weekend of Sept. 9.
“We signed Deng Gak, who visited Florida, Kansas and Miami -- that’s high level recruiting,” Larrañaga said. “Chris Lykes visited us and Villanova and canceled visits to Georgetown, Virginia, and Notre Dame. Lonnie Walker visited Kentucky, Arizona and Villanova, as well as Miami. So, when you’re after that caliber player, you have to understand you can lose that guy. He’s got great choices, and what you have to evaluate is what’s he looking for, and what are our chances.
“Right now every kid we’re involved with is looking at Top-25 type programs. What’s nice is he considers us in that category. Doesn’t look at Miami the way prospects were looking at us even six years ago. Now, it’s `Hey, Miami’s in the preseason Top 25, they’ve got guys in the NBA, guys are projected to be drafted next year, so let me take a look at Miami because they’ve got one heck of a basketball program.”
The success of former UM players in NBA summer leagues helps recruiting. Davon Reed, a second-round pick of the Phoenix Suns, averaged 14 points per game in the summer league. Sheldon Mac (formerly McClellan) averaged 13 for the Washington Wizards. Trey McKinney Jones played for three teams in three different summer leagues, but separated his shoulder while playing with the Miami Heat. Kamari Murphy was invited to camp with the Brooklyn Nets.