Over the course of June, hurricanesports.com will be taking an in-depth look at each of the four men’s basketball signees. The “Hurricane Watch: Meeting the Newest Canes“ series will be posted each Friday, and will delve into each of the four future Canes. The quartet of signees will all be freshmen on the 2017-18 team.
“The one thing about our incoming freshman class is their personalities. I love kids who smile a lot who have a lot of energy, who are team-oriented, very unselfish young men who you like to be around, on the court, and off the court,” seventh-year head coach Jim Larrañaga said. “I think they will be great role models in our community as students and as athletes.”
In the first edition of the series, “Hurricane Watch“ will focus on a student-athlete who has already spent a semester representing The U.
“[Freshman] Sam Waardenburg was a young man that we recruited out of New Zealand, and he was a terrific international player, who came to this country and impressed us when he played outstanding basketball during adidas Nations, an event held in California at the end of the summer ,” Larrañaga said.
While playing in the adidas Nations Tournament in Los Angeles, Waardenburg averaged 13.4 points and 6.4 rebounds in five outings. He was 7-of-11 from long range in the event and was named one of the top 10 players in the camp.
Following a great showing in “The Golden State,” Waardenburg continued to impress before arriving on the UM campus in December.
The New Zealand native first traveled to Beijing, where he was named the most outstanding player at the Nike All-Asia Camp. Then after playing in the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) Top 100 High School Basketball Camp in Virginia, Waardenburg was named the most outstanding player in the Basketball Without Borders Camp in Australia.
On December 10, with 11 points and a game-high 12 rebounds in the capital city of Fiji, Suva, Waardenburg helped lead the New Zealand basketball team past Australia, 57-51, in the FIBA U18 Oceania Championship. With the victory, New Zealand qualified for the FIBA U19 Basketball World Cup for the first time, and are scheduled to face Korea on July 1, 2017, in Egypt.
Since arriving at Miami, Waardenburg has continued to mold and improve his game, working out with his teammates and getting his first glimpses of ACC basketball.
“At 6’9, he arrived here in December weighing about 190 pounds,” Larrañaga said. “He is now up to 210, and he is much stronger.
“We think he is a terrific prospect, he has some things he’ll have to adjust to in the American game because he used to the international game,” Larrañaga said. “And believe it or not, even though it is basketball in both countries, the games are very different due to the athletes that play in the ACC, which is the highest level of competition in this country before you get to the Pros.”
The Hurricanes will enter 2017 with a top-10 recruiting class featuring Waardenburg and a trio of incoming freshman, Lonnie Walker IV, Chris Lykes and Deng Gak, looking to return to the Big Dance for a third consecutive season.
Be sure to check in to hurricanesports.com next Friday as the latest edition of “Hurricane Watch” takes an in-depth look of ESPN’s Top 100 signee Chris Lykes.