Next in Miami’s PA Pipeline
By Alex Schwartz
CORAL GABLES, Fla. – Lonnie Walker IV was the first one-and-done player in program history.
Ja’Quan Newton scored 1,145 points, a top-30 mark all-time at The U.
Davon Reed won ACC Scholar-Athlete of the Year and went No. 32 in the NBA Draft.
All three hail from the Philadelphia area and, clearly, made their mark in Coral Gables under Jim Larrañaga. Walker matriculated from Reading, Pa., while Newton came right from the City of Brotherly Love and Reed did so from nearby Ewing, N.J., and a Philly-based AAU team.
Miami freshman Isaiah Wong came to The U by way of Monsignor Bonner in Philadelphia and knows of the ties bonding his prior home with his new one.
“It’s just a good opportunity to be in a position they were at,” Wong said. “I was really following Lonnie Walker. When Miami first recruited me, I was looking up good players and I saw Lonnie Walker played [one season here]. I saw he was from Philly, so he was one of the people I really followed.”
A 6-foot-4-inch guard originally from Piscataway, N.J., Wong spent the final two years of his high school tenure at Bonner. It was there that he truly burst onto the scene as a big-time recruit, one who would ultimately finish No. 78 in Rivals’ rankings.
Wong averaged 22.2 points, 6.9 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game as a junior playing in the Philadelphia Catholic League, the same league Newton left in 2014 as its all-time leading scorer and a Rivals top-40 prospect.
“I’ve talked to Newton a whole bunch of times,” Wong said. “I [have also] talked to Lonnie a couple of times. They usually come in throughout these past months, just walking in and playing with us.”
During the recruiting process, Wong says Coach L did not harp on the Philadelphia connection too much. However, the names did come up, including one in particular.
“He wasn’t really talking about them a lot, but they were mentioned, especially Lonnie [because] he was from [the Philly area] and he was like a top [recruit],” Wong said. “I feel like I can be in the same situation as him, in coming from Philly.”
Wong has already had the opportunity to don a Miami uniform three times, averaging 14.0 points on 46.2 percent shooting on the Hurricanes’ foreign tour to Italy in August.
The backcourt scorer displayed an impressive game, one that syncs up well with what he feels are his best attributes on the court.
“I say I can hit open shots, I can dribble and I’m a good offensive player,” Wong said. “I can play defense. I pretty much can do anything on the court, I feel like. [I’m able to] get players shots and get my own, too.”
Wong, who enjoys watching James Harden, feels his strength and defensive focus are two aspects of his game he needs to improve on.
As those improvements come, Wong will look to become the next standout on the list of Hurricanes to go from Philadelphia to the Miami record books.