Miami basketball roster faces major transition after Earl Timberlake transfer

Dec 19, 2020; Coral Gables, Florida, USA; Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 19, 2020; Coral Gables, Florida, USA; Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports /

The news that star freshman Earl Timberlake is entering the transfer portal is a major blow to the Miami basketball roster for the future. Timberlake was projected as a potential first-round pick in the 2021 NBA Draft if he had remained healthy during the 2020-21 season. Injuries limited Timberlake to seven games.

Timberlake averaged 9.3 points per game, 5.0 rebounds and 2.4 assists in the seven games with three starts in 2020-21. Without Timberlake, Miami only has three scholarship underclassmen on the roster for the 2021-22 season. Leading scorer Isaiah Wong, guard Harlond Beverly and forward Anthony Walker are all sophomores.

Any of the six seniors on the Miami basketball roster have the option to return for next season with eligibility frozen by the NCAA during the 2020-21 season. Centers Nysier Brooks and Rodney Miller, guards Chris Lykes, Kameron McGusty and Elijah Olaniyi and forward Sam Waardenburg all have the option of returning.

Miami signed four-star small forward Jakai Robinson and three-star shooting guard Nisine Poplar in November 2020 in the Class of 2021. The Hurricanes also have a commitment from four-star point guard Bensley Joseph in the Class of 2021. Timberlake spoke to ESPN who broke the story about his transfer.

"“I’ve been dealing with a whole lot this season as far as being away from home and ankle and shoulder injuries…I wanted to be there for my teammates, but unfortunately I wasn’t able to. After some thought, I came to the conclusion that putting my name in the transfer portal is the best move for my future.There’s nothing negative that happened. There’s no bad blood with Miami. I just want a fresh start. I love Coach L and the rest of the coaching staff. I just want to start over and get a fresh start somewhere else…I’m not sure where I want to go…I’m open to anything. I’m going in with an open mind. There are no favorites.I will not be entering the NBA draft…I need to get back to being the real Earl Timberlake before I can think of taking the next step in my career.”"

The future of the Miami basketball roster has major questions. Miami played with six scholarship players for a significant portion of the 2020-21 season. The Hurricanes currently have five scholarship players with the three underclass returnees and two signees for the 2021-22 season.

The decision by Timberlake to transfer leaves Miami without either of their 2020 signees. Forward Matt Cross who played well for the Hurricanes in 14 games this season was dismissed in January. Miami is also without a junior class because they did not sign any freshmen during the 201 recruiting cycle.

Two complete classes missing have hampered the Miami basketball roster. College basketball programs are allowed 13 scholarships. That is 3.25 signees per class. Miami is missing eight scholarship players for next season without knowing if any of the current seniors will return for the 2021-22 season.

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If the 2018 and 2020 classes reached average that would be 6.5 scholarship players. That would put the Miami basketball program at 11 or 12 scholarship players for next season and in a far better place to compete than they have been during the last three seasons when the Hurricanes finished with a losing record.