A quick Wednesday morning update before we get to the Wednesday buzz column below:
UM basketball suffered a recruiting setback minutes ago when its top target - Brandon (Fla.) PF Demetrius Henry - announced he will sign with South Carolina instead of UM, which was his other finalist. Henry said coach Frank Martin is the biggest reason he chose South Carolina.
Henry would have stepped into departing PF Kenny Kadji's slot if he had signed with Miami. The Hurricanes desperately need to add quality size in the next few months, but most of the really good recruits already have signed elsewhere. As it stands, Tonye Jekiri will start at center (Jim Larranaga said he could end up being the best big man UM has ever had) but undersized 6-6 Erik Swoope could end up starting at PF.
Point guard Shane Larkin must decide by Sunday whether to leave for the NBA. ESPN says he is strongly leaning toward leaning pro, though Larkin and his father have said no decision has been made.
### As colleague Armando Salguero noted earlier today, the Dolphins and Chiefs have resumed trade talks for offensive tackle Branden Albert. Decent chance this gets done, but not certain. Fins wants to make sure they can't get one of elite tackles in draft. And Chiefs have to be willing to accept pick No. 54. Fins hadn't received permission to give Albert a physical as of this morning, but that could change at any minute. Fins could always wait until Friday to see how first round plays out Thursday night.
WEDNESDAY BUZZ COLUMN
Fins draft chatter:
### Not even the Dolphins know for sure if they will be drafting any state players this week, as they did last April with UM’s Lamar Miller and Olivier Vernon. But besides liking the skills of FIU safety Jonathan Cyprien, the Dolphins also have been showing interest in several Gators and Seminoles.
Permitted to bring in 30 non-local players for visits at team headquarters, the Dolphins have used three on FSU offensive tackle Menelik Watson, UF linebacker Jelani Jenkins and UF tight end Jordan Reed.
Also, Miami has shown interest in FSU defensive end Tank Carradine; brought in UF safety Matt Elam to meet with team executives last week; and sent their special teams coach upstate to audition Dustin Hopkins (FSU) and Caleb Sturgis (UF) – two of the draft’s best kickers.
The Dolphins have spent more time with Watson than any other tackle in the past month, sending their offensive line coach to audition him in Tallahassee and then summoning him to Miami to meet team officials. He's an option - if Miami trades down lower in the first round or if he slips to 42 - but only if Miami doesn't trade for Branden Albert, which remains a possibility.
A native of England, Menelik never played football before August 2011. He played right tackle at FSU but NFL Network's Mike Mayock said he could be a natural left tackle. “It’s mind-boggling how much upside this kid has,” Mayock said.
Miami also is intrigued by Carradine, a potential second-rounder who had 11 sacks last season before a November ACL injury. The Dolphins haven’t spent as much time with FSU end Bjoern Werner, though he’s also on their radar.
“Werner’s stock has dropped” to the 30s, Kiper said. “He didn’t test out as well as people thought. A little raw. Great motor.”
Since the Combine, the Dolphins have spent significant time with two UF linebackers projected for the middle rounds: Jenkins, a potential mid-round pick who was limited by a foot injury last year but played well in 2011 (75 tackles, two sacks), and middle linebacker Jon Bostic (6.5 sacks, two interceptions).
“Bostic is one of the highest risers in the draft – could go 60 to 75,” Mayock said, adding Jenkins is a fourth- or fifth-rounder.
Kiper said Reed’s stock “has dropped a bit. Maybe he’s a fourth- or fifth-round pick. He’ll help a team.” Elam – a potential second-rounder - has good range, but he’s on the small side (5-10) and he has struggled in coverage at times. "He will play a lot of years in the league," Mayock said.
### Miami couldn’t be more serious about finding a challenger for Dan Carpenter. Besides auditioning Hopkins (25 for 30 in field goals last year) and Sturgis (24-28), the Dolphins sent a coach or scout to privately audition Nebraska’s Brett Maher, North Carolina’s Casey Barth, Oklahoma State’s Quinn Sharp, Fordham’s Patrick Murray and Houston’s Matt Hogan – all on the their campuses. UM’s Jake Wieclaw worked out for the Dolphins at their facility.
### Besides liking tight ends Tyler Eifert and Zach Ertz, the Dolphins recently summoned Michigan State’s Dion Sims – a potential mid-rounder who averaged 13.2 yards per catch - to team headquarters.
### So what does Dwyane Wade think of Bucks guard Monta Ellis saying earlier this season that he’s as good as Wade, but without all the wins and championships? “I looked at it and I chuckled in a sense,” Wade said in a private moment Tuesday.
“But if I’m a bar for somebody, I don’t mind that. Monta is a talented, talented guard. But obviously, I feel my game is a little bit different. I’m not just a scorer. I do everything on the floor, my whole career I’ve done it. That’s where I separate myself from others…
“[But] I look at what Kobe Bryant does. I know I need championships to be where he’s at, to even be in the category with him as a player.”
### Behind the scenes, Ray Allen has been challenging LeBron James all season about his shooting, to the point “that he gets tired of me talking about it,” Allen said. “Every day we talk about it. I told him he could be a 50-40-90 guy in the playoffs.”
That means 50 percent from the field (he shot 56.5 during the season), 40 percent on threes (40.6) and 90 percent from the line (75.3). “Free throws have been his nemesis,” Allen said. “I tell him all the time he can shoot over 80 from the line. That’s what I want from him.”
### Kansas State point guard Angel Rodriguez’s transfer to UM drew closer to reality Tuesday. “Miami is where he wants to go and they are interested,” said Art Alvarez, his coach with the Miami Tropics. “It looks very promising.”
Rodriguez, second-team All Big 12 last season, could not play in 2013-14 - unless he gets a waiver on the NCAA transfer rule because of family hardship - but would have two seasons of eligibility left. He is transferring to be closer to his mother and two brothers, who live in Puerto Rico.
Alvarez, who expects Rodriguez will have to sit out next season, compares his game with NBA guard J.J. Barea’s.
UM received his release from K-State today.
Meanwhile, UM is one of several schools pursuing physical 6-9 forward Tarik Black, who is graduating from Memphis and is eligible to play for another college this coming season.
### Remember how UM quietly accepted it when the NCAA threatened to believe Nevin Shapiro’s claims if former players didn’t agree to be interviewed by the NCAA? Miami is now protesting that, and with good reason.
“The enforcement staff attempted to coerce former student athletes by sending them correspondence in November 2012 indicating that if they failed to cooperate, Shapiro’s jailhouse tales about them would be established as true,” UM wrote in a motion to the NCAA’s infractions committee. “Such intimidation is yet but another example of the enforcement staff’s desperate and unprofessional” actions.
We hear about a half dozen players spoke to the NCAA as a result of the threat, but their testimony wasn’t very damaging. Former safety Randy Phillips told people he spoke to the NCAA because he didn’t want to be barred from UM’s training room while rehabbing an injury and trying to get back to the NFL.
Former receiver Jason Geathers spoke to the NCAA “but had nothing to give them,” said his agent, Daniel Rose. “Jason said, ‘Larry Coker warned us about this guy.’” Ex-Canes linebacker Carl Walker also told people he spoke to the NCAA.
### Some of the NCAA’s mistakes in the UM case are laughable. In one 2012 e-mail to UM obtained by The Herald, since-fired investigator Abigail Grantstein wrote about trying to determine whether “Durand Scott’s and Reggie Mitchell’s eligibility have been jeopardized.” There is no Reggie Mitchell. It’s Reggie Johnson.
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