Miami Hurricanes big man Kenny Kadji certainly is an NBA prospect at 6'11" 240 pounds, but what I would question is his ability to defend the post at the next level.
Kenny is an above average athlete for his size as you can see in his highlights -- he's no Kevin Durant so his ability to shoot from the three point line is not impressive and this is not a knock on his ability, he's going to make his money from 17 feet and in.
Kenny will have a long NBA career as post defender who can be a double double guy.
Playing in the NBA is a dream for many youngsters. Former Hurricane basketball stars Kenny Kadji and Shane Larkin are one step closer towards fulfilling their childhood dreams by receiving invitations to the NBA Combine. This week, they will be tested both mentally and physically, as their skills and abilities will be compared to 59 other prospective draft picks. Both have much to prove. Kadji, standing at 6’11 and weighing 242 pounds, will have to prove to scouts that he can bruise inside with the big men in the NBA. Although Kadji has the height to be an effective defensive player, questions remain about his lateral quickness and weight. Kadji’s best asset is his jump shot. Multiple teams in the NBA are looking to go small and Kadji would fit perfectly as a small-ball five. Even as a traditional four, Kadji would wreck havoc due to his ability to spread the floor and create space for his guards, which is part of the reason why both Larkin and Durand Scott were so effective last season at getting to the bucket. Kadji should focus on displaying his outside game to woo scouts during the combine in order to solidify a spot in the middle of the second round.
As for Larkin, the biggest knock on him is his height. On a generous scale, Larkin stands at 5’11, weighing around 185 pounds. What Larkin lacks in height, he makes up with gifted athletic ability and a high basketball IQ, both of which he will have to show off to NBA scouts to remove any doubts about whether or not he can play with the big boys. Larkin has two other things working in his favor: his perimeter jump shot and his leadership ability, both of which he proved this past season. Shane should look at Ty Lawson for inspiration, whose height was also questioned before the 2009 NBA Draft. Today, Lawson is the starting point guard for the Denver Nuggets and is able to excel because of his quickness and consistency from the perimeter, skills that Shane also shares. Look for Larkin to impress scouts both on and off the court during the week of the combine and improve his draft stock.
If you don’t already know, starting point guard for the Miami Hurricanes Shane Larkin has declared for the NBA. The son of MLB Hall of Famer Barry Larkin is projected as a mid-to-late first rounder or early second rounder. With his combination of tremendous speed, incredible court vision, and lights-out jump shot, Larkin is going to be a much-needed asset for some NBA team. The question still remains though of where the former ACC Player of the Year will end up. Let’s analyze which NBA teams could land Larkin based on their needs and position in the draft.
New York Knicks, Pick Number 24
The Knicks thought that they had their point guard problem solved with the addition of Raymond Felton. However, if you’ve followed the Knicks the last couple of years, you know that Felton’s play has been inconsistent at best and that he has been plagued by injuries. The Knicks added Jason Kidd and Pablo Prigioni to add depth to the point guard position, but both players are slow and have trouble creating their own shot, forcing Carmelo Anthony in numerous isolation situations. Larkin would add some much needed speed to a slow and injury-prone backcourt. He fits well into the Knicks’ current system under Mike Woodson because of his quickness and ability to hit the long-range jumper. Also, being the defensive minded coach that he is, Mike Woodson would not mind adding the second best defender in the ACC alongside of lockdown perimeter defender Iman Shumpert. Don’t be surprised if Larkin is playing at Madison Square next season if he drops this far in the draft.
Utah Jazz, Picks Number 14 and 21
With the solid frontcourt of Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap, the Utah Jazz barely missed the NBA Playoffs this past season. The Jazz struggled at the point guard position all season, mainly using Randy Foye and Moe Williams, both of whom are better playing the two-guard. The Jazz have no true point guards signed on their roster for next season. Larkin has a great chance to excel in Salt Lake City because the roster has a similar make up to his Miami Hurricanes team of a year ago. The combination of Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap, and Derrick Favors is similar to the trio that Larkin had in Miami in the form of Reggie Johnson, Julian Gamble, and Kenny Kadji. Gordon Hayward, Jeremy Evans, and Moe Williams (provided that he resigns) resemble Larkin’s wing players, Durand Scott, Rion Brown, and Trey McKinney Jones. The Jazz will probably look to add two guards with their two first round picks and it is highly probable that Larkin could be one of them.
San Antonio Spurs, Pick Number 28
Everyone knows that the San Antonio Spurs have an All-Star starting point guard in Tony Parker. However, the Spurs have a clear deficit at the back-up point guard position, and it was exposed this past season with Parker’s injury. The Spurs mainly used players such as Nando de Colo, Gary Neal, and Manu Ginobili to run the point during Parker’s absence, all of whom are at their best playing off the ball. Greg Popovich could use a player like Larkin to relieve Parker from playing heavy minutes. Nothing could be better for Larkin than to play for the Spurs because of Pop’s unmatched ability to highlight the strengths of his players. Larkin also fits in well into the Spurs’ system because of his focus on defense and his ability to shoot the three. Although Larkin may not be happy being a back up initially, he has plenty of time to learn and grow under the guidance of Tony Parker and could eventually take over the ropes as the floor general for the Spurs.
I only focused on the Jazz, Knicks, and Spurs because they have an apparent need for a point-guard and are optimally placed in the draft to take Larkin. Wherever Larkin ends up, there’s no doubt that he is going to be a positive contributor for his team in one-way or another.
It was a disappointing night for the Miami Hurricanes. The Canes shot an abysmal 35 percent including 8-26 from the three-point line en route to 71-61 loss to Marquette. The score does not justify how badly the Canes played and how well the Golden Eagles played. After being down 4-2 in the first couple of minutes, Marquette never looked back, getting to the basket at will and stifling the Canes on defense. Marquette looked especially prepared for Miami’s high-ball screen, showing high on Shane Larkin to ensure he did not gain momentum heading towards the basket and running three-point shooters off the line to keep them off balance. It also did not help Miami’s cause that they shot one for twelve in the first half from the three-point line, some of which were good looks and had fell all season for the Canes. Meanwhile, on the other end, Miami had no answer for Marquette’s big men. Davante Gardner, Jamil Wilson, and Chris Otule all scored in double figures, giving the Golden Eagles a huge advantage for points in the paint. In addition to the paint play, Marquette also hit three of six from the three-point line, including two in the first half. Vander Blue’s jump shot with three seconds left gave Marquette a thirteen-point lead at the break.
The Canes shooting percentage could only go up in the second half considering that they shot less than 30 percent in the first twenty minutes. Unfortunately for Miami, Marquette started the second half on fire, making eight of their first nine shots. Every time it looked that the Canes were gaining some momentum, Marquette would answer with a lay up on the other end or the Canes would shoot themselves in the foot with a turnover. The Canes never got closer than 14 for most of the second half. Marquette did a phenomenal job breaking down the Canes’ pressure by passing over the top and getting lay-ups for Gardner or Otule. By the time the Canes were able cut the lead under 14, it was too little too late.
Almost everyone underperformed for Miami, starting with Durand Scott who had his second poor shooting performance, making only three out of his thirteen shot attempts. Trey McKinney Jones and Rion Brown, normally known as sharpshooters, missed seven and ten shots respectively. On paper, Shane Larkin had a decent game with fourteen points and four assists. However, anyone who watched the game knows that Larkin did not have the type of impact that he normally does. Marquette did a great job containing him, which prevented Larkin from penetrating and setting up himself or his teammates with good looks. In terms of the big men, Kenny Kadji was the most effective for the Canes tonight, scoring six out Miami’s first seven points. The Canes needed much more from him as well as from Julian Gamble considering that the perimeter players were playing so poorly.
Despite how tonight ended, these Miami Hurricanes have plenty to be proud of this season, as does their head coach Jim Larranaga. Though he fell short of reaching the Final Four, as he did with his 2006 George Mason team, Larranaga still led Miami to arguably its best college basketball season ever. With Jim Larranaga as head coach and Shane Larkin leading on the court, the Canes have plenty to look forward to next season.
Winning at Cameron Indoor is always a near-impossible task considering the Blue Devils had won 92 of their previous 97 home games prior to Saturday night. The Blue Devils were especially motivated for the Hurricanes this time around, as the 27-point shellacking they experienced at the Bank United Center earlier in the year was fresh on their minds. Despite the hostility they knew they were about to face in Durham, the Canes went into the game confident in their own ability as one of Duke’s previous five home losses had come at the hands of this very same Canes team last season. Sports analysts everywhere hyped this game as easily the biggest in the ACC and arguably the biggest in all of college basketball thus far. This game featured another prominent storyline prior to tipoff: the return of Ryan Kelly. Most people predicted that Kelly would play ten to fifteen minutes at the most and would have a minimal impact on the outcome.
As it turned out, Kelly torched Miami for 36 points as he led the Blue Devils to a 79-76 win over the Miami Hurricanes. The Canes had no answer for Kelly’s outside shooting as he alone hit seven of the Blue Devils’ eleven three pointers compared to six threes combined for Miami. Despite Kelly’s historic night, the Canes were able to stay in the game by exploiting Duke’s poor penetration defense. Shane Larkin led the way for the Canes with twenty-five points and four assists followed by Kenny Kadji’s seventeen points and ten rebounds. The difference in the game last year for the Canes was Reggie Johnson’s impact in the paint. He dominated Duke inside for twenty-seven points. This time around, Mason Plumlee and the rest of the Blue Devils held Johnson scoreless, as he missed all five of his shot attempts and failed to force Duke to double-team him down low. The two teams remained within striking distance of each other for most of the night before Duke finally got the first double-digit lead for either team after Quinn Cook’s three pointer with 1:56 left. The Canes rallied back, and had a chance to tie the game at the buzzer before Rion Brown’s three-pointer rattled out.
The Canes have plenty of positives to take away from the game despite the loss. The Canes being able to stay in the game shows that the win earlier in the year was no fluke. The Canes are able to match up well with the Blue Devils and have a legitimate chance to beat them in the ACC tournament if the two teams meet again. Once again, Miami shut down Seth Curry by holding him to seven points on two of eight shooting. In fact, if it were not for Ryan Kelly, the Canes would have handily beat Duke again. Of course, the Blue Devils will have Kelly at their disposal the rest of the season but it is highly unlikely that he will score 36 points again on ten of fourteen shooting from the field. Jim Larranaga will have his defense prepared next time around to better handle Kelly’s perimeter play. Shane Larkin had his way with the Blue Devils again, and Duke could not stop the Canes from penetrating and getting to the basket. The Canes also had a rare poor shooting night from the three-point line.
With the Canes already having clinched the one-seed in the ACC and with limited competition in the ACC this season, it is highly probable that these two teams meet again in the ACC Championship game in Greensboro. This time, it will be the Canes who look for revenge.