Miami basketball has backcourt depth to absorb Isaiah Wong loss

Mar 26, 2023; Kansas City, MO, USA; Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 26, 2023; Kansas City, MO, USA; Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports /

Miami basketball star guard Isaiah Wong declared for the NBA Draft as expected on Monday. Wong was the ACC Player of the Year, part of back-to-back Elite Eight teams and a 2023 Final Four run. The Miami coaching staff was well prepared for Wong departing after this season and have a strong backcourt returning for 2023-24.

The Miami basketball team projects to have an all-junior backcourt of Bensley Joseph, (fourth-year) Nijel Pack and Wooga Poplar next season. Joseph provides Miami with an experienced point guard who was a key role player for the last two years. Pack and Poplar should continue to provide Miami with high-scoring guards.

In addition to returning Joseph, Pack and Poplar, Miami also returns forward Norchad Omier in the post. Jakai Robinson and Christian Watson who have not played many minutes during their Miami careers project competing for playing time as backups. Also, expect Miami to search the transfer portal for wings.

Miami will specifically look for a versatile wing that can also play in the post as Jordan Miller did for the Hurricanes in the last two years. A.J. Casey who was a 2022 signee for Miami received valuable minutes as a true freshman this season and projects to be in the rotation for Miami in 2023-24.

Wong will make the University of Miami Sports Hall of Fame someday. Wong finishes his Miami career fourth in Hurricanes’ history in minutes played, ninth in field goals made, free throw attempts and defensive rebounds, eighth in field goal attempts and points scored, sixth in free throws made and fifth in free throw percentage,

Wong helped lead a resurgence of the Miami basketball program after the Hurricanes missed three straight NCAA Tournaments. Miami missed the NCAA Tournament in each of the first two seasons with Wong on the roster. The Hurricanes have become one of the elite teams nationally with Wong on the roster.

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Miami is in a significantly better place as a basketball program in part because of Wong. Joseph, Pack and Poplar have Miami in a good place to replace the production Wong had in his Hurricanes’ career. Miami should continue to be among the elite teams in the ACC with three returning starters plus Joseph for next season.