Men’s and women’s basketball enter offseason with strengthened UM support, returning veterans

Head coach Katie Meier steps off of the bus as the Canes Women’s basketball team arrives back to campus and the Watsco Center on March 6, 2022.
Head coach Katie Meier steps off of the bus as the Canes Women’s basketball team arrives back to campus and the Watsco Center on March 6, 2022. Photo credit: Jared Lennon

Miami basketball’s Destiny Harden, Jordan Miller and Kameron McGusty joined women’s coach Katie Meier and men’s coach Jim Larrañaga at the Watsco Center on Tuesday to discuss the teams’ journey through the 2021-22 season.

After seasons that will go down in history, the players and coaches set their intentions for the offseason and shared their hopes for the future of Hurricanes basketball.

With both Harden and Miller returning to UM’s roster in the fall, new recruits are not the only excitement on the horizon. Miami athletic director Dan Radakovich received praise from both coaches.

“The university is empowering athletics a little bit more and making some big, bold moves and that has a lot to do with the community stepping up and the president saying ‘Yes, I like this’,” Meier said. “I think so much is going to happen in these next two years that are going to blow people away.”

Meier added that her ideas no longer receive “immediate no’s,” stressing that she is not inferring this is what was happening before, but that the university “now knows what athletics can do for us.”

When the future of sophomore guard Isaiah Wong was brought up, Larrañaga said he is giving Wong space to pursue his NBA dreams. There have been no official decisions made on his return yet.

Sophomore Isaiah Wong drives past a Virginia Tech defender along the baseline in Miami's 71-70 loss to Virginia Tech on Saturday, Feb. 26, 2022 at the Watsco Center.
Sophomore Isaiah Wong drives past a Virginia Tech defender along the baseline in Miami's 71-70 loss to Virginia Tech on Saturday, Feb. 26, 2022 at the Watsco Center. Photo credit: Josh Halper

Wong withdrew his name from last season’s NBA draft to play alongside the Hurricanes for his third year. Where he will be in the fall is still up in the air and according to Larrañaga, the decision to be made is entirely up to Wong and his mother. After he withdrew last summer, he said he needed “to work to improve my draft stock,” during an interview with ESPN.

Harden, along with women’s basketball guards Kelsey Marshall and Ja’Leah Williams, as well as Charlie Moore and Sam Waardenburg of the men’s squad, all earned spots on the All-ACC Academic Team, with an honorable mention to Waardenburg, a sixth-year graduate student with a 3.9 GPA.

Meier and Harden are looking to see Williams take on a leadership role in the coming season and step into the new identity of the team.

“She knows how she can be a very special player and she knows she can do it,” Meier said.

Freshman guard Ja’Leah Williams drives towards the basket during the second quarter of Miami’s game versus Clemson in The Watsco Center on Feb. 27, 2022.
Freshman guard Ja’Leah Williams drives towards the basket during the second quarter of Miami’s game versus Clemson in The Watsco Center on Feb. 27, 2022. Photo credit: Sam Peene

During Williams’ post-season meetings with Meier, she was fully aware of what the coaching staff wanted of her.

Harden, meanwhile, is going into the offseason with no intentions of letting up in her work ethic and play style. She plans to develop a skill base and expects it to “all show next season.”

Leaving Miami will be bittersweet for McGusty, who will make the transition to professional basketball, but will miss walking the campus that he’s been on for the last three years.

Sixth-year redshirt senior Kameron McGusty attempts a layup in an 88-87 Miami win against Syracuse on Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2022 at the Watsco Center.
Sixth-year redshirt senior Kameron McGusty attempts a layup in an 88-87 Miami win against Syracuse on Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2022 at the Watsco Center. Photo credit: Alex Carnochan

McGusty, 24, will walk out of Miami having made his mark as a Hurricane, saying “it definitely feels good to make history.” The former Oklahoma transfer became one of 10 ACC student-athletes in the last 30 years to score over 17 points per game with marks of 47% and 35% from the field and 3-point range.