Miami Hurricanes basketball: Several enticing transfer options emerging

North Carolina’s Brice Johnson (left) and Joel Berry try to stop Florida Gulf Coast’s Zach Johnson during a first-round NCAA Tournament game on March 17, 2016 in Raleigh, North Carolina. (Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

[FBI downplays Miami involvement in college basketball scandal]

Miami coaches might have an extra bounce in their steps this weekend.

Tuesday’s revised federal charges against a former Adidas executive and his associates stripped language that implied Jim Larranaga and his staff approved of their scheme to pay a top-flight recruit to sign with the Hurricanes. The new indictment makes a different point: that Miami was defrauded by the men. From a UM perspective, it amounted to a mea culpa.

It will no doubt help answer any questions recruits have about potential NCAA trouble for the Hurricanes, who are trying to fill out their roster for 2018-19 and beyond.

This weekend, UM is hosting two transfer guards. High-scoring combo guard Zach Johnson, who is leaving Florida Gulf Coast, will make an unofficial visit Friday, a program source confirmed. Wyoming transfer Anthony Mack will see the campus this weekend. The Hurricanes are a finalist for Oklahoma transfer Kameron McGusty, who would sit out this season.

Johnson, who would be immediately eligible, is a Miami native who made the All-Atlantic Sun team last year (16.1 points per game, including 37 in the A-Sun title game, and 3.0 assists). Like his former Miami Norland High teammate Dewan Huell, he declared for the NBA Draft, but did not hire an agent.

Johnson led Norland to a state championship as a high school senior in 2013-14. He was named Class 6A Final Four MVP as a junior and senior. At FGCU, he made the A-Sun All-Freshman team in 2015-16, when he averaged 11.1 points and 3.3 assists per game. He posted 11.9 as a sophomore.

Last season, he set career highs in 3-point shooting (39.2), free-throw shooting (78.1), steals (2.0), rebounds (3.3) and minutes (32.4). He shot 46.9 percent from the field, taking 12.4 shots per game.

“He can shoot the 3-ball,” teammate Brandon Goodwin told the Naples Daily News last November. “He can drive it. One of the things that’s special about him is you don’t have to call a play for him. You get him a ball-screen and he’ll make a play for you. Whether it’s driving down and dunking or driving in the lane with a floater or driving and finding an open teammate. I think that’s something that’s hard to teach. He’s super athletic. When he gets around the rim, he can finish. And he can go in spurts of scoring four or five baskets in a row, especially at times when we need it. What makes him special is he can do it all.”

Johnson (6-foot-2, 195 pounds) would be a valuable addition to a backcourt that returns three scholarship players (Chris Lykes, DJ Vasiljevic and now-eligible transfer Miles Wilson). He could also reunite with Huell, should Huell decide to return to school. According to Jon Rothstein, Johnson will also visit Creighton, Louisville and Arizona.

Mack (6-6, 218), a three-star recruit in the 2017 class, was a high school teammate of UM freshman forward Deng Gak at Blair Academy in Blairstown, N.J. A Las Vegas native, he redshirted last year.

McGusty (6-5, 191), who visited Miami last weekend, narrowed his choices to UM, Virginia Tech and Houston. The Katy, Texas native averaged 8.0 points in 18.5 minutes last year as a sophomore. He would sit this season and have two years of eligibility remaining.

If Miami landed all three players and Huell returned, next year’s active backcourt would have ballhandling guards Lykes (sophomore) and Johnson (senior), shooter-scorer Wilson (sophomore) and shooter Vasiljevic (junior). The forward unit would include big wing Anthony Lawrence Jr. (senior), stretch fours Sam Waardenburg (sophomore) and Gak (redshirt freshman), and big men Huell (junior), Rodney Miller (junior) and Ebuka Izundu (senior).

Including McGusty (an eligible junior in 2019-20) and Mack (sophomore that season), Miami would have 12 scholarship players, and could add an eligible transfer or prep player to round out the roster.

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