Hard to predict what 2018-19 Miami Hurricanes will look like

Lonnie Walker could take his high-flying game to the pros. (Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Teammates not blaming Walker for loss
Heartbreak for Hurricanes on last-second shot

DALLAS — Chris Lykes wanted a memento of his first NCAA Tournament experience. In a somber locker room after Miami fell to Loyola on a last-second shot, Lykes noticed a few teammates pulling “March Madness” placards off the walls.  He snatched one, too.

He plans to display it where he can see it daily.

“I already know people are probably going to count us out starting now,” Lykes said, “but we’ve got a good group coming back. We’ve got some athleticism, I have a year under my belt so I’ll be more of a leader, so you can expect that from me. It starts now. I’m definitely going to be in the gym a lot. This really hurt me.”

Jim Larranaga can count on a motivated point guard entering his sophomore year.

Beyond that? He’s not so sure.

“What you see now would be great if we had everybody back next year,” Larranaga said. “If we did, I’d feel very, very strongly that we’d have a great team.

“In today’s college game, there’s no way to predict at this early stage how you’re going to look next year with the number of kids that transfer, guys that go pro, injuries, recruiting.”

[Potential losses leave UM in tough spot]

Miami (22-10) graduates one senior, guard Ja’Quan Newton. It would be overjoyed if freshman guard Lonnie Walker and sophomore Bruce Brown return instead of enter the NBA Draft. They could combine with Lykes to create one of the ACC’s most exciting backcourts. The frontcourt, featuring junior Dewan Huell and seniors Anthony Lawrence Jr. and Ebuka Izundu, would be filled with upperclassmen who can score and defend.

“One of the things my staff and I have wanted to do and haven’t been able to do is stay older, have a more experienced team. I think that plays very well into postseason. I think the older guys who have been through it normally play well. I think younger guys have it a little more challenging,” Larranaga said.

“Right now, we only have one scholarship senior. We have two guys sitting out. So if everybody would return, that would be like 11 guys. We still have two scholarships to give. But in today’s game, I have no idea. I look around our league, and I can’t tell you what’s going to happen at those places, either.”

Miami’s issues run deeper than just Newton graduating and two potential NBA departures. Click here for a more detailed look.