First-year Miami basketball coach finds success recruiting home state

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First-year Miami basketball coach finds success recruiting home state

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New Miami basketball coach Jack Owens was introduces himself during a public event at Millett Hall in Oxford, Thursday, Mar. 30, 2017. GREG LYNCH / STAFF

When it comes to high school basketball, few states have Indiana’s chops.

The movie wasn’t called “Hoosiers” for nothing.

So it’s only natural that Indianapolis native and former Purdue assistant Jack Owens mines what he knows best in his search for the talent he feels he needs to turn around Miami’s men’s basketball team in his first season as the RedHawks’ coach.

Miami’s 2017-2018 roster includes four newcomers who graduated from Indiana high schools. Two more are expected next season. Of the three players who’ve made verbal commitments to Miami and are expected to sign letters-of-intent on Wednesday, the first day the NCAA allows recruits in basketball and some other sports to make official their intentions, two are from Indiana.

Two point guards, Evansville Benjamin Bosse’s Mekhi Lairy and Indianapolis Brebuef Jesuit’s Myja White, have made verbal commitments to Miami, along with Pickerington North forward Eli McNamara.

The 5-foot-7, 140-pound Lairy was the first to commit, announcing his decision via Twitter on July 16.

“I wanted to take my time with it, and I feel like I did that,” he told the Evansville Courier & Press. “From Day One, I was impressed with the campus, and the coaching staff made me feel like family. It felt like home away from home.

“It was a little stressful at first, but now all the weight is off my shoulders. Now I can focus on getting stronger and getting my body weight ready for the next level while still perfecting my craft.”

Lairy led the Southern Indiana Athletic Conference in scoring as a junior with an average of 23.0 points per game. He needs 117 points to set his school’s career scoring record and 447 to set Evansville’s record.

NCAA rules prohibit college coaches from commenting on recruits before they’ve submitted letters-of-intent.

The 6-1, 178-pound White committed on Oct. 28, reportedly picking Miami over several schools, including Miami’s Mid-American Conference rival, Ball State.

“I picked Miami because I felt like it was the best fit for me academically, and I just loved the basketball program at Miami,” he told Midwest Hoops Spotlight.com. “It’s a great atmosphere.”

In between was the 6-9 McMamara, the third Pickerington North senior to commit to a Division I program.

“It wasn’t the assistant coaches recruiting me,” McNamara told 270 Hoops. “It was the head coach, plus I wanted to go somewhere where they loved me, and I could tell that coach Owens genuinely loves me.

“Miami plans on using me in their motion offense, to come off and set screens and really just play my game. Those are also the ways I fit in because I know that coach will let me play my game.”

Junior transfer guard Darrian Ringo and freshmen guards Jalen Adaway, Isaiah Coleman-Lands and Nike Sibande are the four new RedHawks with Indiana roots. Ringo is a junior college transfer. Adaway is from Logansport, Coleman-Lands is a product of Indianapolis La Lumiere School and Sibande graduated from Indianapolis Crispus Attucks High School, Oscar Robertson’s alma mater.

Other newcomers include junior guard Grant Pitman, a Moeller High School product and transfer from Air Force Academy Prep, along with 6-8 sophomore forward Bam Bowman, 6-7 freshman forward Dalonte Brown from Toledo Bowsher, and 6-5 freshman forward-guard Michael Ritchie from Mt. Prospect, Ill.

The RedHawks, who are coming off an 11-21 season, open the season Friday at Hofstra.

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