Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Miami (Fl) Gets Another Year Of Adrian Thomas

Miami got some good news today with Adrian Thomas receiving a sixth year of eligibility, after two seasons (2006-07 and 2007-08) were nearly entirely wiped out by injury. Thomas isn't well known outside of the ACC, and he only started four games last season, but he earned 22 minutes per game off the bench, collecting 7.3 points and 2.7 rebounds per game. At 6'7", 229 pounds he is part of a front line that is big and athletic but a bit raw, and so his experience means a lot. He'll also mean a lot for the entire team, since it was going to have zero seniors on it before Thomas was granted his extra season.

Miami is a team that is underestimated because they finished last in the ACC with a 4-12 record last season. But the ACC was much better than even most experts realized, and Miami was a young team that was pesky and just struggled to win close games. At the end of the season they were ranked the 50th best team in the nation by Sagarin, and 46th by Pomeroy. James Dews, Dwayne Collins and Cyrus McGowan were the graduations from the regular rotation, but it was an 11 man regular rotation that didn't have any clear stars, so those losses won't be too tough to replace.

Durand Scott scored 10.3 points per game as a freshman and should be the scoring focal point as a sophomore in 2010-11. He'll start in the backcourt with Malcolm Grant, who led the team in assists as a sophomore in 2009-10. Rion Brown, the most talented and most polished 2010 recruit for Miami, will provide depth in the backcourt, as will Trey McKinney-Jones, a transfer from UMKC. Garrius Adams can play shooting guard, although at 6'6" he can also play forward.

As I said, the frontcourt has a lot of athleticism and potential, but it's still young and raw: DeQuan Jones, Reggie Johnson and Julian Gamble all played in the regular rotation last season and will be back. Donovan Kirk, a 2009 recruit, didn't play much as a freshman but should play more as a sophomore. The 2010 recruiting class has two talented big men (Erik Swoope and Raphael Akpejiori), although both are raw and won't likely play much as freshmen.

In my original 2010-11 ACC preview I described Miami as a young and talented team that would be on the bubble in 2011, and that should be even better in 2012. My most recent BP68, done nearly two months ago, had Miami sneaking into the field as a 12 seed. One more year of Adrian Thomas will really help the development of that front line, and will help a team built for the future do more winning now. They learned in 2009-10 that raw teams tend to lose close games, and losing close games is a good way to knock yourself off the bubble. But the chances are much better now that Miami will win enough close games to get back to the Dance for the first time since 2008.

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