Deng Gak, Rodney Miller announce return to UM basketball

Rodney Miller (14) shoots a layup against Pitt on Dec. 16, 2019 at the Watsco Center.
Rodney Miller (14) shoots a layup against Pitt on Dec. 16, 2019 at the Watsco Center. Photo credit: Jared Lennon

Although the Hurricanes have lost five players to the transfer portal, there is some good news regarding some of the other seniors.

It was announced earlier today that both Rodney Miller Jr. and Deng Gak will use their extra year of eligibility and return to the Miami basketball program. They will join Sam Waardenburg as the three returning seniors.

Rodney Miller Jr., who will turn 25 years old in December, has had an up and down college career this far.

After averaging just one point in his first two seasons, he redshirted during his third year with the team. He came back in his redshirt junior year in much better shape, starting 28 of 31 games, where he averaged 7.2 points and 5.5 rebounds per game.

This past season, as a redshirt senior, he struggled with a groin injury and only appeared in five games.

“With the Covid-19 pandemic taking place and me tearing my MCL, I feel overwhelmed,” Miller said in a statement on social media. “Add in our difficulties as a team this year due to our many injuries and it led to me being at a low point for a bit. I was confused and unsure of what to do next. So, I just took it back to the basics to figure out what I wanted. And I knew exactly what that was: to win. What’s why I came to Miami. That’s why I play basketball…I feel like I’ll be able to make my biggest impact yet in my last year. I want to leave a winning legacy. That’s my biggest focus here.”

After losing the starting role to Nysier Brooks this past season, he looks to regain it with no other centers currently on the roster.

Deng Gak, who has had his best season yet, has also struggled with injuries for the majority of his career.

Gak redshirted in his first season with the team. He played in eight games in his redshirt freshman year before suffering a season ending knee injury. In his third year with the team, he only played in seven games before suffering a season-ending knee injury again.

This past season, he played in 25 games, averaging 2.2 points and 3.1 rebounds per game.

“This is one of the toughest decisions I’ve made in my life, but I’ve determined I want to come back to Miami,” Gak said in a post on social media. “I know we’ve struggled the last few years, but the way we ended this season in the ACC tournament proved to me we can turn this thing around. i really want to be a part of getting Miami basketball back to where it was.”

If Gak can stay healthy again next season, he will be able to help the team off the bench. This is a great start for the coaching staff in looking to field a team for next season, but they are going to need to be aggressive in the transfer portal in looking for more players for next season.