Miami has long been considered a football town.
The Hurricanes’ football program was a national power in the 1980s and the Dolphins have had their moments as well.
But now that the Heat are the reigning NBA champs and the Hurricanes are ranked No. 3 in the latest AP Top 25 poll, there’s a buzz surrounding coach Jim Larranaga’s program.
LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and James Jones sat courtside for a recent game, and Hall of Famer Barry Larkin, the father of Miami guard Shane Larkin, is a regular presence.
“I’d say it’s electric,” Larranaga told SportsCenter Tuesday. “When we played Duke, the students camped out overnight for the first time in school’s history. We’ve had three sellouts in our last four home games. There’s a lot of excitement in Miami, both for the Hurricanes and the Heat.
“Having LeBron and D-Wade and James Jones come to our game gives us a lot of credibility with our recruits. So we’re headed in the right direction here in Miami. It’s a great academic institution so anybody that wants to get a great education and play in the best basketball league in the country in the ACC, this is the place to come.”
As far as recruiting, this success can only help.
Larranaga confirmed that prospects text him at 1 o’clock in the morning and that an eighth-grader texted “one of my coaches.”
“My wife says to me, ‘Who’s texting you at 1 o’clock in the morning?’ and it’ll be one of our prospects who watched the game and wants to text,” he said.
Led by former Rice High School star Durand Scott and his team-best 14 points per game, the Hurricanes (19-3, 10-0 ACC) have won 11 straight and remain unbeaten in the ACC.
Still, Larranaga said his team is working on improving its offensive rebounding by utilizing bigs Kenny Kadji, Reggie Johnson, Julian Gamble and Tonye Jekiri.
“So we want those guys to really spend a lot of time carving out space,” he said, “and getting us a some second shots because the teams in the ACC are all terrific defensively.”