Sports Illustrated Names Lonnie Walker 16th Best Freshman For 2017-18

CHICAGO, IL - MARCH 29: Brian 'Tugs' Bowen II
CHICAGO, IL - MARCH 29: Brian 'Tugs' Bowen II /

Before suffering a torn meniscus in his knee, Miami Freshman Lonnie Walker was playing sensational according to Head Coach Jim Larranaga. The addition of Walker has many high on the potential of the Miami basketball team in 2017-18.

Sports Illustrated recently examined how good the Hurricanes could be this upcoming season. They rank Lonnie Walker as the 16th best Freshman in the country. SI’s exact title about Walker’s impact on the Hurricanes is “At Full Strength, Lonnie Walker Can Help Miami’s Offense Stay With the ACC’s Elite”.

Lonnie Walker will team with Bruce Brown and Ja’Quan Newton to give the Hurricanes one of the best backcourts in the country. The offense they will get from those three, plus reserve guard D.J. Vasiljevic and hopefully from big man Dewan Huell should see the Hurricanes become one of the most improved offensive teams in the ACC.

Sports Illustrated broke down the article about Walker and the Hurricanes into three parts. They examined what Lonnie Walker means for Miami’s recruiting class, how he fits into the team and what the team outlook is for the season.

A year after Brown had an outstanding Freshman season, much of the same if not more is expected from Walker this season. Brown averaged 11.8 points per game, 5.6 rebounds, 3.2 assists 1.5 steals last season.

Miami’s 2017 Recruiting Class

Lonnie Walker is listed as the third best shooting guard in the class of 2017. Miami also brings in 5’7 point guard Chris Lykes. Larranaga loves Lykes for the energy he will bring to the U this winter. He also praised Lykes by saying he will become a fan favorite.

The Hurricanes also bring in a pair of big men to help up front. Deng Gak is a multi-national player who comes to Miami after playing at Blair Academy in New Jersey. Sam Waardenburg is a stretch four from New Zealand.

How Does Walker Fit in. 

"Sports Illustrated is high on Walker’s potential. They said that:“It’s going to take Walker some time to get into a groove for the Hurricanes”"

Walker is expected back for Miami’s season opener on November 10 against Gardner Webb. Miami’s early season schedule should give Miami a chance to ease Walker into the lineup. Their first truly challenging game will be at Minnesota on November 29.

Discussing how Miami should treat Walker’s return from injury SI says:

"“Larrañaga shouldn’t rush his top newcomer onto the court…once he’s at full strength, Walker should start showing off his scoring prowess—his length makes him a creative finisher around the basket, and he’s an improving outside shooter, too.”"

Miami basketball has been ranked anywhere from 11th through 26th in the early season spring and summer rankings. They should be able to challenge for the ACC Championship and make a run at a Sweet 16 Appearance if everyone is healthy. SI gave a summary of what the 2017-18 Miami Hurricanes basketball season could look like.

2017-18 Miami Basketball Outlook. 

"“Even though they’re in the same conference as the defending national champions and a fully-loaded Duke squad, the Hurricanes are a trendy sleeper pick to win the ACC. That’s largely based on who they brought back—Brown and Ja’Quan Reed (SIC, should be Newton), plus four other rotation pieces—but also hinges on Walker. Miami lost two key scorers in Davon Reed and Kamari Murphy, and if they expect to keep up with the other high-scoring offenses in the conference, they’ll need Walker to get buckets sooner rather than later. Provided his knee heals properly, he should be more than up to the task.”"

The biggest question will be can Miami’s frontcourt give them enough production up front. Murphy averaged only seven points per game last season. It’s difficult to anoint him one of Miami’s key scorers.

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Replacing Reed is going to be important. Walker, Vasilijevic and an improved Brown should be able to pick up the scoring lost by Reed. Replacing the intangibles that Reed brought will be more difficult. He’s a great defensive player and with Murphy was the team leader last season.