The Miami Hurricanes’ positive buzz for the 2015-16 men’s basketball season has just been seriously interrupted.
Talented guards Manu Lecomte, a sophomore who averaged 7.9 points, and Deandre Burnett, a redshirt freshman who averaged 7.0 points, have decided to transfer, according to a statement issued by the Canes.
Before the transfer, the Canes had a reason to be optimistic because it appeared that their top 10 scorers would be back from a team that went 25-13, narrowly missing the NCAA Tournament and reaching the NIT final.
In addition, Miami was the only team to win at Duke, which on Monday won the NCAA championship.
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As for Lecomte and Burnett, no reason was given for their transfer, and their future destination is not known.
Canes coach Jim Larrañaga, who spoke to the media four hours before the transfers were made public, was asked at his news conference if he expected all 10 of his underclassmen back next season.
“History has shown that 650 kids have transferred for all sorts of reasons, and we’re probably no different than any other program,” Larrañaga said. “It wouldn’t be surprising if someone decided to transfer, and, if they did, our thought would be: why, and then try to help them find the best situation.
“We want our players to want to be here. And if they think the grass is greener someplace else, that’s their choice.”
Lecomte and Burnett both had their moments this season. Lecomte, for example, came off the bench to score 23 points in the win over Duke, finishing 3 of 4 on three-pointers.
Burnett, a former Carol City High star who has the potential to be a volume scorer, had a big basket in Miami’s NIT semifinal win over Temple.
Both players, however, were possibly looking for more playing time. Lecomte started 23 of 38 games and was fifth on the team with 22.4 minutes per game. But he was considered the backup point guard to Angel Rodriguez even though Lecomte’s .430 shooting percentage was superior to Rodriguez’s .337 mark.
On three-pointers, Lecomte shot .456 to Rodriguez’s .304. And on free throws, Lecomte shot .877 percent to Rodriguez’s .745.
Burnett was sixth on the team in minutes played (17.4). But Burnett also fell out of the rotation at times, playing just 28 out of 38 games.
So perhaps he was seeking more consistent playing time. Maybe Lecomte, who is from Belgium, wanted to return home.
Neither player was made available Wednesday, so it’s conjecture at this point.
What is known is that those are two significant losses for the Canes, especially given the fact that Miami stands to lose four seniors after next season: Rodriguez, shooting guard Sheldon McClellan, power forward Ivan Cruz Uceda and center Tonye Jekiri.