Observations: Miami’s recruiting has officially turned the corner

Miami coach Jim Larranaga initially knew he had to build the Hurricanes’ program unconventionally when he first got to Coral Gables, so he did. Miami took a pair of transfers in Angel Rodriguez and Sheldon McClellan that helped bridge things together after the Hurricanes lost five starters following the 2013 season that saw Miami win both the ACC regular-season and tournament titles while earning a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament. The Hurricanes also took another key transfer in Kamari Murphy when he decided to leave Oklahoma State in 2014.

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But now Miami is officially a player when it comes to recruiting the best high school players in the country. The Hurricanes received commitments from a pair of Top-30 2016 prospects on Wednesday in Bruce Brown and Dewan Huell. Both Brown and Huell were each courted by several power-five schools. These pledges now show that Larranaga can and will recruit the best players in the country from here moving forward. Miami had had several solid moments in recruiting over the past few years when it landed players like Davon Reed and Ja’Quan Newton, but neither of those commitments produced as big of a boom as Wednesday did. This is a significant development for this program.

Kentucky is stacking momentum on top of momentum

Only Kentucky ‘s program could pull something like this off. Just when there started to be chatter that Duke may be usurping Kentucky’s brand as a whole John Calipari had a 24-hour span that would have made any normal human being envious. The Wildcats began the day by securing a commitment from five-star power forward Bam Adebayo. Then UK essentially controlled Tuesday night’s game against the Blue Devils in the Champions Classic from tip to finish en route to an 11-point victory.

And on Wednesday morning, the Wildcats tabbed a commitment from five-star wing Malik Monk. Monk’s pledge means that Kentucky now has five five-star prospects (De’Aaron Fox, Wenyen Gabriel, Sacha Killeya-Jones, Adebayo and Monk) committed in the Class of 2016 in the 247 Composite Rankings.

That’s pretty ridiculous when you think about the fact that there’s a legitimate chance that the Wildcats could potentially bring back Tyler Ulis, Isaiah Briscoe, Isaac Humphries, and Charles Matthews following this season. Duke has emerged as a strong challenger to Kentucky on the recruiting trail ever since Mike Krzyzewski has opted to adapt his recruiting philosophy and go after more one-and-done type prospects. But the Wildcats have become more than a college basketball program under Calipari — they’ve become an empire.

And there is nothing that anybody can do to stop it.

We’ll know a lot more about Arizona after tonight’s game against Boise State

How good are the Wildcats? Nobody really has any true idea because they’ve opened the season up against Pacific and Bradley. But tonight Sean Miller’s team will be tested by a squad that has capable guards — Anthony Drmic and Mikey Thompson — as well as a prolific scoring forward in James Webb.

Leon Rice has quietly built the Broncos’ program into a perennial contender in the Mountain West Conference and this is a major opportunity for Boise State to make a national statement. Despite the addition of several impactful newcomers like Ryan Anderson and Allonzo Trier, Arizona is an unproven commodity after losing four starters from last year’s team that reached the Elite Eight and lost to Wisconsin. It will be interesting to see how things unfold tonight in Tucson.

This Just In

Michigan State’s Gavin Schilling (turf toe) will not play Friday night against Arkansas Pine-Bluff, Tom Izzo told CBS Sports on Thursday morning. “He’s more week-to-week right now than day-to-day,” Izzo said of Schilling, who did not play in Tuesday’s win over Kansas at the Champions Classic in Chicago.

This and That

As first reported Wednesday, Iowa’s Peter Jok (ankle) will play in Thursday night’s game at Marquette, Fran McCaffery told CBS Sports. Jok did not play in the Hawkeyes’ win on Sunday against Coppin State. Jok started at guard in Iowa’s opener vs. Gardner-Webb.

You always want to take statistics from early season games against lesser competition with a grain of salt, but UConn’s Daniel Hamilton is on an absolute tear to start the year. The 6-7 sophomore is averaging 10.0 points, 10.0 rebounds, and 7.0 assists following the Huskies’ first two games and looks comfortable doing different things to fill out the box score while Sterling Gibbs and Rodney Purvis operate as the focal points of UConn’s offense.

Ohio State essentially has three interchangeable pieces that can play three separate positions in starters Marc Loving, Jae’Sean Tate, and Keita Bates-Diop. All three of these players can pass, dribble, shoot, and guard multiple positions defensively. The real key for the Buckeyes will be at point guard at center where Thad Matta may have to rely on a pair of true freshmen in JaQuan Lyle and Daniel Giddens. We’ll know a lot more about this team after it plays Memphis in Florida on the day after Thanksgiving.

Kentucky’s Marcus Lee had never played 20 minutes or more in a game prior to the start of this season. Now after three games he’s the unsung presence in the Wildcats’ 3-0 start. The 6-9 big man is averaging 10.7 points, 8.7 rebounds, and 2.7 blocks per game in just 23.0 minutes of action — that’s impressive.

Several ACC coaches believe that Florida State has the league’s second-best roster behind North Carolina. The Seminoles’ top two scorers after their first two games? A pair of freshmen: Dwayne Bacon (25.0 PPG) and Malik Beasley (21.0 PPG). You know you have options when you can bring two seniors who averaged over 34.0 minutes last season — Devon Bookert and Montay Brandon — off the bench.

One of the more underrated tilts on the slate tonight is the battle between Creighton and Indiana in Bloomington as part of the annual Gavitt Games. Each of these teams has dominated its first two contests of the season and playing against a team from a major conference should give each program a bonafide litmus test. This has a chance to be one of the better offensive games of the early season and could wind up in the 80s or 90s.

Don’t be shocked if Tyler Lydon is regularly on the floor in end of game situations for Syracuse. The 6-8 freshman is mature beyond his years, can play three separate positions, and has an unbelievable IQ. Lydon hit a critical three-point shot during the second half of Tuesday’s come-from-behind win over St. Bonaventure and is averaging 8.5 points and 8.5 rebounds per game through the Orange’s first two games.

Dan Hurley and Rhode Island don’t have what they had before E.C. Matthews was lost for the season with an ACL injury, but they still have enough to be one of the better teams in the Atlantic 10. The question is now can Hurley remake the Rams’ offense on the fly and not drop key non-conference games in the process. Rhode Island is 1-1 following Tuesday’s three-point home loss to Valpo.

Utah’s staff quietly felt confident that Kyle Kuzma would have a breakout season and thus far he hasn’t disappointed. The versatile forward is averaging 18.5 points and 9.5 rebounds through the Utes’ first two games and has usurped Brekkott Chapman as this team’s go-to power forward. Utah faces Texas Tech tonight in the first round of the Puerto Rico Shootout.

NC State freshman Maverick Rowan has been a model of consistency early as the Wolfpack attempts to move on at shooting guard post-Trevor Lacey. The 6-7 Rowan is averaging 15.3 points through three games, but is shooting just 40.5 percent from the field. If Rowan improves his accuracy, he’ll be one of the more productive freshmen in all of college basketball.

DePaul would be much better served playing all of its home games on campus before its new arena is ready to be opened in nearby Lincoln Park. The Blue Demons played their opener on campus last Saturday against Western Michigan and it felt like a real college basketball home game instead of the comatose atmosphere you get when they play at the Rosemont. The sooner this happens the better.

Arizona (USATSI)
No. 12 Arizona faces a tough test today when the Wildcats play Boise State. (USATSI)

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