With an instantly memorable picture edit, Lonnie Walker announced his commitment to Miami.
Walker, a five-star shooting guard rated one of the 20 best players in the 2017 recruiting class, posted an illustration of himself and UM coach Jim Larranaga as boxers, saying he’s “officially a Cane.” ESPN reported he signed his letter of intent.
The image, a composite of famous Muhammad Ali photos, could be a nod to Larranaga’s “Ali shuffle” dance during the 2013 NCAA tournament. There’s a chance Larranaga did that dance Wednesday morning.
Walker, rated No. 19 by ESPN and fourth among shooting guards, is a 6-foot-4, 205-pound wing who excels at slashing to the basket, according to scouting reports. Like Davon Reed and Ja’Quan Newton, he is from the Philadelphia area and played for Team Final AAU. Read more about Walker and his background in this story we posted early Wednesday morning.
His commitment gives Miami another blue-chip player for next season. Last Wednesday, the Hurricanes signed D.C.-based point guard Chris Lykes (No. 52 in ESPN’s top 100) and Australian power forward Deng Gak (No. 93). New Zealand forward Sam Waardenburg will arrive in January.
Last year, the Hurricanes signed two five-star players, guard Bruce Brown and power forward Dewan Huell, along with top-100 center Rodney Miller and Australian guard DJ Vasiljevic.
Next year’s team will graduate Reed, a wing, and forward Kamari Murphy. It will have Newton, a senior in his second year as a starter, running the point. Brown returns at two-guard, with shooters Vasiljevic and senior Rashad Muhammad coming off the bench. Versatile junior Anthony Lawrence Jr. would likely be the starting small forward, with Huell and two-year starter Ebuka Izundu, a junior, at center, and sophomore Rodney Miller and redshirt junior transfer Michael Gilmore in the mix.
Larranaga, whose program lost three scholarships in the last three years because of NCAA violations a previous coaching staff committed, has put together a roster with balance. Next season, UM will have its full allotment of 13 scholarships. Lykes will get to learn from Newton, Walker from Brown, Waardenburg from Lawrence, and Gak from Huell and Izundu. UM should have toughness and balance on the perimeter, and length and athleticism inside.
That’s the stuff that puts coaches — and fans — in a dancing mood.
The Hurricanes, who opened this year with a 92-43 win over Western Carolina, visit North Florida on Wednesday.