With as many players as Jim Larrañaga lost from last year's Sweet 16 squad we all know it's probably going to be a long season filled with growing pains for the Hurricanes basketball team.
But at least the future got brighter Wednesday.
Thursday morning, UM announced the signing of four players -- Ja’Quan Newton, James Palmer, Omar Sherman and Ivan Cruz Uceda -- to National Letters of Intent.
The signing class is ranked No. 23 in the nation by Scout.com.
> A consensus Top 60 player, Newton is a 6-foot-2, 180-pound guard listed as the No. 55 player in ESPN’s Top 100 list. At Neumann-Goretti High in Philadelphia, Newton averaged 18.0 points per game last season, and has totaled more than 1,300 career points, helping Coach Carl Arrigale lead his team to three consecutive Catholic League championships. The incoming freshman has participated in the NBPA Top 100 Camp and LeBron James Skills Academy, and plays AAU ball for Team Final, the same squad as future Miami teammate Davon Reed. Newton, an offensive slasher with an innate ability to get to the rim, was also recruited by UCLA, Texas A&M and Minnesota.
“Ja'Quan is a multipurpose guard who play both the one and two and be very effective at both. Ja'Quan is an outstanding scorer and will add a lot to our offensive arsenal next season. He hails from Saints John Neumann and Maria Goretti Catholic High School in Philadelphia, which has produced a large number of high major Division I players,” Larrañaga said in a statement released by the school.
> Palmer, a senior at St. John’s College High, is a 6-foot-4, 180-pound guard from Washington, D.C. He helped his squad to a 20-win season by averaging 12 points, five rebounds and two assists as a junior. An offensive threat, Palmer can catch-and-shoot 3-pointers or score in transition. Palmer, who plays AAU ball for Team Takeover, was also recruited by Memphis, Wake Forest, Rutgers, Cincinnati and Maryland. Palmer was coached by Sean McAloon at St. John’s College HS.
“James is one of the best three-point shooters we saw all last summer,” Larrañaga added. “He played for one of the best AAU programs in the country, Team Takeover, in Washington, D.C. He also plays at St. John's College High School of the WCAC, which is one of the toughest high school basketball leagues in the country.”
> Sherman, out of Duncanville, Texas, is a four-star prospect, according to ESPN and Scout.com. The 6-foot-8, 220-pound forward plays high school ball at Duncanville High, where he is coached by Kenny Boren. Scout.com lists Sherman as the No. 20 power forward in the country, and the No. 94 player overall. Sherman, who played his AAU seasons with Deron Williams Elite, chose Miami over Wichita State, North Texas and Weber State.
“Omar is the kind of front court player we were looking for,” Larrañaga said. “He is big and strong with a velvety soft touch. He can score with his back to the basket but can also shoot the three. He plays for Duncanville High School which is one of the best high school programs in Texas.”
> Cruz Uceda is a 6-foot-10, 240-pound forward originally from Madrid, Spain, ranked No. 55 overall by ESPN. Cruz Uceda will be available to play a pair of seasons for Miami following his two years at Harcum College in Pennsylvania. At Harcum, he set the school record for rebounds in a season and has a chance to break the school’s career record for caroms. Cruz Uceda was also recruited by Marquette, Ohio State, Penn State and Villanova.
“Ivan is the perfect compliment to Omar. He is an excellent passer, but at 6-10, he too can play inside and outside. He is a strong rebounder, clever, and plays for a strong junior college program at Harcum College. We were searching for an experienced player to join our junior class and we believe we have found exactly that in Ivan,” concluded Larrañaga.
The four newcomers join an already talented 2014-15 class, which includes redshirt-freshman Deandre Burnett, who is out this season with an injury, and transfers Sheldon McClellan and Angel Rodriguez, who are currently sitting out due to NCAA transfer rules.