Three Hoop Group Alumni Poised to Step Up for Miami

Injuries often cause one door to close, and another to open for players and teams. The Miami Hurricanes will experience that feeling over the next month and a half, as the school announced an injury to Bruce Brown. Brown, the team’s second leading scorer, will have surgery on his left foot and leave him sidelined for the next six weeks. This is huge news for a Miami team that had expectations of competing with the top of the ACC this season.

Brown, like Miami, had been slightly underwhelming this season. He was a player who many thought would make huge strides as a sophomore, catapulting him to a first round selection in the Spring’s NBA Draft. His 11 points and team leading 7 rebounds are not bad by any means, but not the jump many expected. Now he will be sidelined for six weeks and have to work back from injury.

Miami as a whole finds themselves in a similar boat. After starting 10-0, Miami is just 15-5 and 4-4 in ACC play. They have a loss to Duke, which normally isn’t bad, but it came in a game where they held a 13 point second half lead at home. They also have losses to Georgia Tech, Florida State and Clemson. With Virginia pretty much locking up the ACC, all the Canes can do is finish as close to the top as they can. That will be a tall task without Brown.

With Brown’s absence, there is production that needs to be filled. The Canes roster has three Hoop Group alumni that are more than capable of stepping into the role, or helping fill, the void left by Brown.

Lonnie Walker

Let’s start with the most likely to step in and fill Brown’s role entirely: Lonnie Walker. Alongside Brown, Walker is the other NBA prospect on the Canes’ roster. Also like Brown, Walker got off to a slow start this season, but for different reasons. Walker was working his way back from a torn meniscus and is just beginning to reach his potential. The former Hoop Group Elite and Hoop Group Showcase standout is averaging 10.8 points a game in 24 minutes. He already shoots it at a better clip than Brown as well. While Coach Larranaga may be reserved with Walker’s minutes, an increased time on the court will no doubt lead to increased production.

JaQuan Newton

Next, there’s senior guard JaQuan Newton, another Pennsylvania native. Newton has been the definition of a senior leader. He was one of Miami’s leading scorers last season, but now ranks sixth due to all the freshman and sophomore talent on the roster. As a result, Newton has become the ultimate utility player, filling in wherever Miami needs help. Some night he’ll score 15+, other nights he’ll lead in assists, and other nights he’ll hit the glass. With 11 points and 7 rebounds missing for the next six weeks, he’ll have the opportunity to fill both voids down the stretch of his senior season.

Chris Lykes

Last but certainly not least, there’s Chris Lykes. Lykes is one of the most entertaining players to watch due to his physical make up. He’s only 5’7, but is lightning quick and extremely active. He’s an energizer and a playmaker when he’s on the court. It’s his energy and playmaking that has earned him more minutes once ACC play rolled around. Lykes likely won’t get inserted into the starting line up, but he could end up being a player Larranaga leaves in at the end of the game. The former Future All-American all-star can be the difference maker on any given night and with Brown out, he will have more chances to make game changing plays.

Good teams have the “next man up” mentality. No one wants to see a player go down, but when they do, someone steps up. Despite Miami’s record in the conference, this is a good team, with players more than capable of rising to the occasion. Out of the three, Walker is the easy choice to step up due to his pure talent. That said, look for Newton to become more active as the team’s elder player, and more minutes for Lykes means more exciting plays.

All three players got their start at Hoop Group events, and now all three are key pieces to bringing Miami to the NCAA Tournament. You’re next. Be sure to sign up for Hoop Group Elite Camp or Hoop Group Jam Fest Tournaments this Spring and Summer to get yourself seen.

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