I’ve been hearing a lot of chatter from ACC fans about how when their team loses, they hope that Miami wins it all for the good of the conference. Even though the Hurricanes spoiled St. Patrick’s Day for me, I will also be rooting for them when the Heels leave the dance floor (if that has to happen). However, I’ve also been thinking about what happens if Miami is able to continue this year’s success and eventually becomes an ACC basketball powerhouse year in and year out. If the Canes and Jim Larranaga can perennially be ranked in the Top Ten, this spells recruiting trouble for the rest of the ACC including UNC, Duke, Syracuse and eventually Louisville. If Miami keeps winning, they are arguably going to have the recruiting edge over more, historic basketball schools due to what I like to call the “Three Heat Factors”.
1. NBA’s Miami Heat
We all know that North Carolina has garnered more than one basketball recruit because of Michael Jordan. Harrison Barnes and Marvin Williams are the first to come to mind, but I know there are many, many more. Michael Jordan played his last NBA game in 2003. The top recruit in the nation Andrew Wiggins was born in 1995 making him eight years old the last time Jordan wore an NBA uniform. As much as I hate to admit it from here on in, most high school basketball players aren’t going to remember watching Jordan play let alone remember him in his prime.
However, top recruits like Wiggins born post-1995 will have grown up watching LeBron James and Dwayne Wade. Many will idolize the Miami Heat the same way the nation did the Chicago Bulls in the 1990s and jump at the opportunity to play in the same city as their favorite team and NBA players. Both Wade and James have also been in attendance at one or more of the Hurricanes’ home games this season. I can’t remember the last time Michael Jordan watched a game at the Smith Center though I’m certain security is the reason he doesn’t take in more games. But, if you’re a recruit and a DWade or Lebron fan, there’s a good chance Miami can have you playing in front of your idol more than once a season.
2. Heat and Climate
I’ve never been to Miami, but the sun is always shining in all the pictures I’ve seen. Granted, it can get pretty miserable during the summer in South Florida, but that’s not when you bring the recruits down. Take for example someone like Marcus Paige from Marion, IA who was the top point guard recruit in the country last year. If I’m Jim Larranaga, I schedule his recruiting visit for February while Paige is shoveling snow and kicking icicles off his car in Iowa. I fly him down from below zero degree weather and show him Miami weather in February where the average temperature is 75 degrees with a low of 63. I’m pretty sure a 70 degree turn around would sway more than one recruit’s decision especially if he hails from the colder regions of the country. I’m also told that Miami has some of the best beaches in the country, so all in all it’s not a tough sell.
3. Hotter than Heat Girls, Girls, Girls
I feel comfortable saying this because I am 100%, absolutely, a bona fide heterosexual female, but Miami has some of the hottest young women in the country which appeals to most teenage, male basketball recruits. While I was watching Miami’s first game against Boston College in the ACC Tournament, I thought to myself that if I was a BC cheerleader I wouldn’t bother taking the court after the Miami squad. Boston College had normal cheerleaders. You know the tumblers and gymnasts. They were short, petite girls who had probably been cheering since the first grade. They had bows in their hair and smiles on their faces and were pretty enough. However, Miami’s squad were not so much cheerleaders as they were aspiring professional dancers and/or models. More than one UNC recruit has admitted that the southern belles on the UNC campus helped make their decision, but Miami is known as the land of beautiful people, and they’ve got the tans to prove it.
Of course, with the exception of the huge success of the Miami Heat, none of this is new to Miami. South Florida has always been known for its gorgeous weather and beautiful people. The difference is UM has always been considered a football school where basketball games were sparsely attended, and Dick Vitale rarely came to town. This season is the first time Miami has been to the NCAA Tournament since the 2007-2008 season, and then they fell in the second round. If Miami keeps up their success, don’t be surprised if the next Andrew Wiggins chooses the Hurricanes over the more historically rich basketball schools on tobacco road, Kentucky and all across the country.