After having only two seniors on last year’s team, the University of Miami Men’s basketball team will enter the 2020-21 season with six seniors on the roster.
Starting point Chris Lykes is looking to close out his stellar career at UM with another great season. After averaging 15.4 points per game last season, Lykes’ play earned him a spot on this year’s Preseason First-Team All-ACC. This marks the second time he has made a preseason All-ACC team, making him the first two-time Preseason All-ACC player in program history. But after missing multiple games due to injury last season, Lykes will have to stay healthy if he wants to help this team return to the NCAA Tournament this season.
Also, returning to the Canes for his senior year is guard Kameron McGusty. McGusty has played only one season with the Canes so far after transferring from the University of Oklahoma two seasons ago. With one season under his belt, that saw him average 12.5 points, 4.0 rebounds and 1.6 assists the Canes will be looking for McGusty to take that next step on this year’s team.
McGusty will be looked at for leadership plus he will be looked at to score a little more with top three-point shooter Dejan Vasiljevic lost to graduation.
The Canes will also be welcoming a new player and senior to the team this year in Elijah Olaniyi, who transferred in from Stony Brook University during the offseason. During his time playing for the Seawolves, Olaniyi scored 1,135 career points. So, once he gets comfortable with the Canes style of play, he will be called upon to help relieve some of the scoring pressure from other players. Olaniyi also finished last season with 44 steals, which is 16 more steals than the Canes leader in steals a year ago. His defense will also be another way Olaniyi will be able to help Miami this season.
Redshirt senior forward Sam Waardenburg will be out for the entire 2020-2021 season due to a left foot injury he sustained during a late October practice. Waardenburg is a 6-foot-10 forward who averaged 5.9 points per game and a team-best 6.0 rebounds per game. He also led the team in blocks with 1.1 blocks per game. Waardenburg played in 30 out of the 31 games that Miami played last season. Miami will miss his rebounding and defense this season.
Redshirt senior Rodney Miller will be one of the players who will be looked at to take on a bigger role this season due to the loss of Waardenburg. Miller averaged 7.2 points and 5.5 rebounds per game in 24.1 minutes per game last year. Miami will need Miller to increase his rebounding numbers and his shot-blocking numbers this season if the team wants to improve their record from last year.
Redshirt senior center Nysier Brooks will finally get to suit up for the Canes this season after sitting out all of last season to NCAA transfer rules. Miami is hoping the 7-foot center can come in and make an immediate impact on the defensive end, using his long arms to block shots and keep other teams out the paint. Brooks can also make an impact on the offensive end, setting picks for other players while also hanging around the rim to finish off ally-ops and put-back dunks.
Miami is looking to make the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2017-18 and with the loss of Waardenburg, the Canes will need to lean on their seniors for experience and leadership if the team is going to make it back to the postseason.
Miami’s original season opener vs Stetson University on Nov. 25 has been rescheduled for Dec. 4. Miami will now open the season on Nov. 29 at home vs North Florida.