Miami basketball has moved past false bribery allegations

The college basketball Adidas scandal that disgraced college basketball in the fall of 2017 prevented the Miami basketball program from signing any recruits in 2017-18. Jim Larranaga and his program have put that behind them and moved on.

In an extensive interview with Manny Navarro of The Athletic, Miami athletic director Blake James discussed a variety of subjects. The resiliency of Larranaga, the honesty and integrity that he runs the Miami basketball program and getting past the scandal was one of the primary discussions.,

Larranaga and the Miami basketball program were not so thinly veiled in a mention of the schools involved in the Addidas scandal when the FBI made multiple arrests and announced the briberies that were rampant throughout the sport in the years prior to the revelations in September 2017.

The initial mention of the Miami basketball program cost the Hurricanes a 2017-18 recruiting class. Larranaga was able to improve the 2018-19 roster through three transfers. Zach Johnson played one season at Miami as a graduate transfer and Anthony Mack transferred. Kameron McGusty sat out last season.

McGusty will be eligible for the 2019-20 season. The Miami basketball program signed freshmen Isaiah Wong, Harlond Beverly and Anthony Walker and added transfers Keith Stone from Florida and Nysier Brooks from Cincinnati during the 2019 offseason. All but Brooks will be eligible in 2019-20.

Larranaga and his staff have frequently relied on transfers to improve the Hurricanes roster long before the transfer portal became a catchphrase. Navarro asked James about what the Miami basketball program went through last season with Dewan Hernandez‘s ineligibility, the allegations and Larranaga’s reactions to it all.

“Navarro: “In men’s basketball, everything the program went through last season with Dewan Hernandez and the shadow of allegations, are they past it now in your mind?

I think we’re past that shadow. Again, it was documented that we were redacted from the case. I think when you look at the recruiting class that they signed to come in here, obviously, we’re getting great young people. If you turn the clock back one year, we didn’t get a single person.

So, there was clearly a big, significant impact that it created. With that said, I think the cloud from that is gone from us. I think you see that in our class, and I think you’ll see that in the team that Jim (Larrañaga) puts out on the court this fall.

Navarro: How tough was that for Larrañaga to deal with?

James: That’s probably best for Jim to answer. But, working with him and knowing him, it’s something that really bothered him. He’s a man of great integrity and that case called that into question, and obviously, that’s hard on someone.

We had the great benefit of knowing him and knowing who he is and how he operates. There was never a question in my mind in anything that Jim said. He told me from the start that he hadn’t done anything wrong and we believed him and stood by him. And I know, we’ll have great days ahead under his leadership and guidance.”

Beverly, Stone and Wong are likely to make an impact on the Miami basketball program in 2020. Beverly and Wong are top 15 combo guards. They have the potential to come in and improve the rotation for the Miami basketball team this season.

Beverly and Wong are both strong offensive players. The Miami offense was inconsistent in 2018-19. The Miami basketball team was far too dependent on Chris Lykes and to lesser extents Ebuka Izundu, Anthony Lawrence and Dejan Vasiljevic last season. Izundu and Lawrence graduated.

The Hurricanes inside presence this season is to determined. Rodney Miller returns from a redshirt season and stretch four Sam Waardenburg also returns. Brooks is sitting out 2019-20 after transferring from Cincinnati. Miller, Stone and Waardenburg are likely to be more complementary players on the offensive end.

Lykes, Vasiljevic and McGusty are likely to start in a perimeter-oriented attack. Beverly and Wong will be backups. That will give Miami one of the best perimeters in the ACC. Larranaga’s two Sweet 16 teams at Miami have been guard dependent. With a perimeter-oriented team in 2019-20, the Hurricanes could exceed expectations.