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Miami basketball has a unicorn on its hands

<p>Miami basketball hopes to build on last season&#x27;s strong finish going into Travis Steele&#x27;s second year as head coach.</p>

Miami basketball hopes to build on last season's strong finish going into Travis Steele's second year as head coach.

Most 300-pound athletes don’t end up playing basketball. Most great athletes from the Dominican Republic don’t either.

But still, Anderson Mirambeaux, a 6-foot-8 305 pound forward from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, is here in Oxford, and is a captain for Travis Steele’s Miami University basketball team. The big man is averaging 13.1 points, 5.8 rebounds and 2.7 assists for Miami this season. He’s shooting over 50%from the floor, and he hasn’t missed a game all year.

Mirambeaux moves like a bull in ballet shoes when he’s on the floor.

He’s great backing down defenders in the post:

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And once he gets down low, he’s got a seriously deep bag:

He’s even dangerous with his face to the basket.

When he was younger, he applied this incredible athleticism to baseball more than basketball.

“I used to play baseball too,” Mirambeaux said. “You know, Dominicans play baseball.”

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But even when baseball was his first sport, it wasn’t his first love.

“I used to go to baseball practice and then come home and go straight to the basketball court,” Mirambeaux said. “It was just more fun for me. I enjoyed it more, playing with my brother and my friends.”

But it wasn’t always in his plans to move to the United States and pursue a career in basketball. When he was playing in the 2015 FIBA Americas U16 Championship, one of the coaches from the United States’ team talked to him and convinced him to come to the U.S.

So he moved to West Virginia, where he enrolled at Teays Valley Christian School. At the time, he didn’t know any English.

“It was honestly tough in the beginning. Really tough. I couldn’t speak to nobody, so it was hard at the beginning. In class I was sitting there just looking up and not knowing what was going on,” Mirambeaux said.

Thankfully, he felt much more comfortable out on the basketball court.

“On the court, everybody speaks the same language,” Mirambeaux said. “Basketball is basketball everywhere. I just let my game talk for me."

In Mirambeaux’s senior season, Teays Valley rolled to a 24-5 record. Mirambeaux was named to the All-USA West Virginia first team. In February of 2019, he even scored 20 points in an upset over renowned powerhouse Oak Hill, a team that contained current NBAers Cole Anthony and Cam Thomas.

Coming out of high school, Mirambeaux got some interest from Division I programs, but no one bit with an offer. So he went to a junior college, Trinity College in Athens, Texas. In two years there, he averaged just over 13 points and eight rebounds before transferring to Cleveland State last year. He only averaged 5.5 minutes per game there though. But Mirambeaux, who described himself as “positive and cool to be around” when asked, still considers it a good experience.

“Everything didn’t go the way I wanted to,” he said. “I didn’t get as much playing time as I wanted to. But it was a really good experience. We were one of the best teams in the Horizon League. It was a really great experience. I learned a lot about college basketball.”

What he learned at Cleveland State was apparently constructive, because a year later — now at Miami — Mirambeaux is having the season of his career.

He arrived on campus in June, and by October, his teammates had voted him captain, along with fifth-year guard Mehki Lairy and redshirt-junior guard Morgan Safford.

“I feel like I’m one of the loudest guys on the team,” Mirambeaux said. “And I always want my teammates to succeed. Plus, I’ve been in college basketball for a minute now, so it just felt right.”

First year Head Coach Travis Steele’s first RedHawk squad hasn’t seen much success this season, at least as far as the standings show. But Mirambeaux loves playing for Steele.

“Oh, he’s a great coach,” Mirambeaux said. “He loves basketball, that’s something I love about him. He’s really into it. You have to play hard for him, but he makes you want to.”

One of Mirambeaux’s most astonishing qualities is his floor IQ and passing ability. Earlier in the season, Steele compared him to Arvydas Sabonis and Vlade Divac, two of the best passing big men in basketball history.

“He’s one of the most unique guys in college basketball,” Steele said. “He weighs 320 pounds, he’s 6-foot-8, he can score with his back to the basket, he’s nimble. But once you really start watching him, the thing that stands out is his IQ. We’re gonna play through him … because he can make decisions.”

Forgive the ridiculous number of embedded tweets, but just look at these gorgeous assists:

Sitting dead last in the Mid-American Conference as of publication, Miami basketball isn’t having a great season by any stretch. But if you like basketball, sports or just unusual things in general: “The Dancing Bull,” Anderson Mirambeaux, is a great reason to take in a game at Millett Hall. You may never see another hooper like him.