The Hilltop Review

Every Saturday morning, the Pony Stampede staff will provide exclusive stories and information on SMU basketball, football, and recruiting that you can't find anywhere else!

Moore Ready For Official Visit

By EJ Holland

On Saturday, SMU will be hosting one of its most coveted basketball recruits in Bolingbrook (IL) power forward Ben Moore. The 6-foot-8, 200-pounder amazed the SMU coaching staff this summer and picked up an offer soon after. Now, he's ready to see what the new and improved Mustangs are all about.

"Ben is really looking forward to his SMU visit. Coach (Larry) Brown has been recruiting Ben hard ever since the July period," said Bolingbrook head coach Rob Brost. "It's always flattering when a Hall of Fame coach is recruiting one of your kids or if you're being recruited by a Hall of Fame coach. He really thinks he can be a difference maker for SMU as they move forward. When it gets right down to the decision-making, if SMU is the right fit for Ben, that's where he'll go. "

Larry Brown and company were recently in Chicago to check out quite a few prospects including Moore. While Brown may have a great relationship with Moore, assistant coach Jerrance Howard has also developed a strong bond with the highly touted big man.

"Coach Brown stopped in to see Ben last week for pretty much the whole day," Brost said. "Jerrance Howard was back this week. I've known Coach Howard for almost 10 years since he was at Illinois. Everybody around the Chicago area knows Jerrance and really respects what he's going to do at SMU. He's built a solid relationship with Ben so it's safe to say there has really been a strong SMU presence at our school."

Moore, who flew under the radar for a little while, busted onto the scene after an impressive showing for Team Rose this summer. His stock soared through the roof, but Brost isn't surprised.

"He's not the typical look at me type of kid. He just takes care of business, and Coach Brown recognized his talent level right away," Brost said. "He's really long and super athletic. He can do so many things. Once people took a really hard look at him, nobody has come to our gym and said they don't like him. Everybody that sees Ben likes him."

Schools such as Missouri, Northwestern and Minnesota have all recently entered the battle for Moore. But as of today, he is open and is weighing all of his options. There is currently no timetable set for his decision.

"We don't really talk about schools in terms of favorites right now because there has been so much interest in the past month or so," Brost said. "Missouri and Northwestern have offered so now we're talking about Big East, Big 10, and SEC schools. It's been exciting, but the teams that have built a relationship with him are clearly a little bit ahead."

Moore has already made a trip to Colorado State but according to Brost no other visits are currently planned but ‘Missouri is a top five program so they're intriguing.'

Basketball Tidbits

- Larry Brown has an in-home visit with four-star SF Ishmael Wainwright on Monday

- Brown met with former Indiana commit and three-star Brewster SG Ron Patterson and extended an offer

- Brown also offered 2014 Brewster PF Chris McCullough on Friday

SMU Enters Mix For State Record Holder

By EJ Holland

Before this past Thursday, Marble Falls (TX) quarterback Mike Richardson had only heard from one school.

"North Texas first contacted me in the spring, and I went up there for a camp this summer," said the 2013 prospect. "They said they would like me to go up on an unofficial."

But now he's a state record holder. In a win over Boerne Champion, Richardson passed for 715 yards and seven touchdowns. The mark ranks as the second most in national history and now schools such as Texas Tech, Houston and SMU are showing interest.

"SMU just got in contact. Coach (Dan) Morrison messaged me on facebook and told me to keep doing what I'm doing," Richardson said. "He messaged me again last night and said he liked how I played. He said they would be in contact."

Richardson, who is coached by former North Texas head coach and Pittsburgh quarterbacks coach Todd Dodge, says he is extremely interested in SMU because of its pass happy offense.

"I don't know too much about them, but I do like their Run N' Shoot offense. It kind of fits what I'm doing now," Richardson said. "It would be a dream come true to play in a big passing offense to say the least. I would like to learn more about them."

Richardson added that he would like to take a visit to SMU soon.

Morrison Discusses Garrett Gilbert

SMU offers 2015 Sharp-Shooter

By EJ Holland

Ben Moore isn't the only special talent at Bolingbrook. 2015 combo-guard Prentiss Nixon has made waves in recruiting circles. When checking out Moore, Larry Brown was so impressed with Nixon that he extended offer.

"He was excited about it. He's barely 15 so the staff got after him early," said Bolingbrook head coach Rob Brost. "It's still early in the process, but it's great to get an SMU offer. Last night, we had probably 20 coaches in our gym, but we have to stay focused on the season, same thing with Ben."

And in the gym is exactly where Nixon excels. The 6-foot-1, 150-pounder can break defenders' ankles, drive to the basket and sink shots from beyond the arc. In other words, he is developing into the complete package.

"He's a solid ball handler but if he improves it just a little bit, he's going to be a complete player," Brost said. "Right now, he's probably the best shooter in Illinois in his class. I tell everybody, he's just a player. He can score whenever he wants. I'm just glad he's on my team."

Brost believes if Nixon chooses SMU, he will have the opportunity to become a superstar at the next level because he would be coached by one of the best when it comes to shaping potential.

"I think anybody would love to play for Coach Brown. You know you're going to get coached to the highest level," Brost said. "Your expectations and accountability is going to be to the upmost. If you want to be a really good player that reaches his potential, Coach Brown is the guy you want to play for."

Nixon has already taken unofficial visits to Michigan and Purdue and is set to see Iowa this weekend.

Lawler Reschedules SMU Visit

By Russell Palmer

SMU commit Justin Lawler was supposed to be on the Hilltop last weekend and the weekend before that but was unable to come, but Mustang fans shouldn't worry as he does plan on visiting next weekend.

"I haven't gone yet because some stuff has come up," he said. "But I'm going to the TCU game for sure."

Lawler is most excited to have a chance to talk to the coaches during his visit and maybe gain a better understanding of how they Mustang coaches plan to use him in the future.

"I'm just looking for them to play well and talk to the coaches a little more," Lawler said. "I haven't talked to the coaches yet about anything that has to do with next year."

In terms of his commitment to SMU, Lawler says things could change, but he really doesn't expect them to, and plans on playing for the Ponies next year.

"As of right now I'm 100 percent but if someone else comes along and offers me, I'll consider it," he said. "But I don't expect that"

Lawler has followed the Mustangs closely so far this season and although it has been a rough start, he fully expects SMU to improve as the season progresses.

"It has been a rocky start, but I expect them to bounce back and just play as well as they can," he said.

Lawler said he also hopes to talk to some current SMU players during his visit and get a better perspective of what playing under June Jones is really like.

Baxter Sees SMU Again

By EJ Holland

SMU commit Jarvis Baxter was on hand to witness SMU's destruction of Stephen F. Austin and couldn't resist seeing his future team play an SEC team. But the two-star prospect did not come away impressed this time around.

"My visit went great. I mean, I guess it was alright," Baxter said. "I mean SMU tried. It never hurts to try. I think everything is cool with my commitment. I just hope SMU can bounce back next week."

While the loss was disappointing, Baxter was also frustrated that he didn't get to speak to any of the SMU coaches and hasn't heard from them this month.

"Even though I've gone on these unofficials, I haven't been able to talk to the coaches," he said. "I haven't really heard from them recently. Really, I haven't talked to anyone."

Baxter said he still might take a visit to North Texas but will be at TCU this weekend for an unofficial visit and to watch his cousin, who plays for Virginia.

"I do have interest in TCU," Baxter said. "It would be a really good school to go to, but I think right now I'm focused on SMU."

Thomas Picks Up SMU Offer

By EJ Holland

2015 Rockwall (TX) center Elijah Thomas is already a hot commodity among hoops circles and holds offers from Illinois, Texas A&M and now SMU.

"I thought it was really cool that they offered me. I was just amazed," Thomas said. "It's a blessing to be offered and shows how interested they are in me. SMU sticks out to me in a different way. I like them."

The four-star big man visited SMU this past weekend along with good friend Jordan Mickey, who is a top priority for the Class of 2013.

"My visit went good. I got to know some of the players and we got to hang out. Jordan Mickey also came on the visit, and we're pretty much like family," Thomas said. "We had fun and tailgated and ate a lot. I really like the coaching staff. Larry Brown was a really nice guy. It was cool to meet him. You don't see many college coaches who have coached some of the NBA's best players."

Thomas said him and Jordan spent a lot of time catching up after not seeing each other for a couple of months but also discussed the possibility of playing at SMU together in the near future.

"Jordan told me SMU was definitely in his top five, but he's still not sure about it yet," Thomas said. "I know he still wants to check out other schools. But it would be really fun to play with him since he's like an older cousin to me."

As the No. 6 ranked center in the country, Thomas is expected to pick up many more offers but for now, he's staying focused on improving his overall game.

"I think using my body and working my body up court is what I do best," he said. "I've really been working on my 15 footer because I know I need to do more than just be the low post player. I want to be more complete so that's why I've slimmed down to 230."

SMU offers 2015 Three-Star

By EJ Holland

Also joining Elijah Thomas on his visit was high school teammate and 2015 combo-guard Austin Grandstaff, who picked up an SMU offer while on the Hilltop.

"It was pretty cool when Coach (Jerrance) Howard and Coch Ulric (Maligi) told me that I had an offer," Grandstaff said. "They said they were both going to come check me out at my school. I'm pretty interested because it's close to home. I want to go to a game or two this year and check things out."

The three-star prospect also met with new head coach Larry Brown and said he feels like the Hall of Fame coach could help him accomplish his dreams of playing in the NBA.

"I got to talk to all of the coaches. I really liked Larry Brown. He was a really nice guy and seems pretty laid back," Grandstaff. "He's getting kind of old, but I can see he still loves to coach, and he really knows his stuff. He would be a great mentor and hopefully, he would be able to get me to the next level."

Grandstaff, who also holds offers from Arizona and Texas A&M, said him and Thomas have frequently discussed going to college together and that SMU could definitely be a possibility.

"We've always talked about going to school together since junior high," Grandstaff said. "We always go on the same visits. If it works out for us, that would be great. But I think we are both going to look for a school that fits us the best."

Grandstaff says he hopes to visit SMU again this fall and is looking forward to getting a more in-depth tour of the campus and basketball facilities.

"SMU is really nice. I had a lot of fun. I liked all the players a lot," he said. "I didn't get to see the facilities, but I'm probably going to visit again pretty soon because I want to see all the basketball facilities since we just went to the football game."

SMU LB Preaches Brotherhood

By Beionny Mickles

A week removed from being completely exposed by the Texas A&M offense, the Mustang defense can evaluate their play, regroup and heal up as they venture through their week four bye week. Linebacker Randall Joyner says that so far, the Mustangs defense have left plays on the field and are looking to improve their play starting with 2-0 TCU next Saturday.

"I feel that overall as a defense we've been playing ok but we can definitely play better," said the junior. "We've got to play for four quarters and put it all together and then we'll be the top-10 defense that we know we can be."

Joyner thinks the reasons why the Mustangs have experienced difficulties are making mental errors and tackling poorly, which he partially attributes to the defense being rusty from not being physical in practice.

"We feel like a lot of the mistakes that we've made have been self-errors that we definitely can correct," Joyner said. "We practice in shell so we don't get in a lot of physical tackling. The first few games we're going to be a little rusty until we get back into game speed so I feel that that's definitely going to get better as the season goes on."

Joyner says that the team is finally beginning to enter mid-season form in terms of conditioning. Because of the way practices are structured, the players do a lot of strength and conditioning work with Coach Mel Delaura.

"We're getting there (to mid-season form)," Joyner said. "It takes a couple games to get it back to where it needs to be but we're starting to get our legs now."

Joyner, who could be assuming the starting inside linebacker role due to Cameron Rogers' injury, has earned a significant amount of playing time in each of SMU's first three games. Joyner believes that his play has improved from last year but can be better.

"This year, I feel that I'm able to get my reads and keys and just play football. I don't have to think because I know my assignments," Joyner said. "There's always room to get better, getting your technique down, tackling, you can always improve that."

Joyner says that even though they've had a rough start the Mustangs are still confident as ever, and he believes that the keys to their success are taking games one at a time. Joyner says that head coach June Jones has told them to stay together and keep fighting.

"We just have to take it one week at a time," Joyner said. "We just try to go 1-0 each week. That's the best way to do it. It's all about us playing together, playing hard and mistake-free. It's a brotherhood. That's what we preach all the time, and we've got to stay together. We've been going through adversity and you can either respond or you can fold and he's just telling us that we've got to respond."

Williams Recaps Visit

By EJ Holland

2014 McKinney (TX) wide receiver T.V. Williams is already attracting major attention from several schools thanks to his blazing 4.35 speed. With an offer from Houston in hand, Williams has been busy checking out other schools including SMU, which he visited this past weekend.

"SMU was awesome. I really liked walking the campus, and they even took us up into a suite so that was pretty cool," Williams said. "My grandfather was amazed with everything. It was cool to see all the pregame and players. It was really exciting in the first quarter against A&M. They played tough."

Williams was disappointed that he was unable to speak directly to the coaches before the game. But he still maintains high interest in the Mustangs.

""I didn't get to talk to any of the SMU coaches actually. I guess they were just too busy," he said. "I have a lot of interest in SMU. It's a really good school not only sports wise but academically. I'm really looking at them."

In three games this season, Williams has caught 13 passes for 342 yards and seven touchdowns. His 26.3 yards per catch average proves he can be a dangerous weapon in SMU's Run N' Shoot offense.

"I think I can fit in really well in their offense," Williams said. "It's the spread so they like to air it out. I think I would really like playing in it."

Williams will take an unofficial visit to TCU this weekend and will see Oklahoma State the following Saturday.

Edwards Discusses Visit

By Billy Embody

2014 Sachse (TX) wide receiver Tyrique Edwards was on the Hilltop this past weekend for the game against Texas A&M and came away very impressed with SMU.

"It was a real good experience," Edwards said. "The crowd atmosphere, the players and being able to go on the field for warm ups was a great life experience."

Edwards is an explosive player for Sachse and hopes his play can translate to his team being excited and pumped up for every game they play. This season, he has hauled in 20 passes for 361 yards and four touchdowns.

"I try to be loud, keep my team hyped up so they can feed off of my love for the game so we can keep flying around and making plays," Edwards said.

Edwards does not hold offers from any schools yet but if his team keeps up their undefeated, 4-0, record, there will be plenty more attention for Edwards and his teammates and he hopes SMU comes a calling.

"After my visit, I am pretty interested but I am trying to keep my options open," Edwards said. .

For now, Edwards will keep being the player he is in hopes of those goals becoming a reality for him and his team. Edwards plays the game with passion and that will be a key for his team this year.

"I just like to go 100 percent and give a great effort to help my team," he said. "Whatever I have to do to help my team to come out with a victory because I figure it is more about the team than about me."

Iwundu Picks Kansas State Over SMU

By EJ Holland

Three-star small forward Wesley Iwundu narrowed it down to SMU and Kansas State earlier this month and took visits to both schools. But Iwundu made his final decision this week and became a Wildcat.

"It basically came down to SMU and Kansas State. I went with Kansas State because they're in the Big 12 and that's big time basketball," he said. "When I let Coach (Bruce) Weber know he was really excited to have me on board so I think it'll be a good fit."

Iwundu was on the Hilltop this past weekend, but after his amazing experience in Manhattan, the Houston Westfield small forward already had his mind made up.

"I really enjoyed my trip to SMU. That's a great school," Iwundu said. "But after my visit to Kansas State the weekend before, I kind of already knew Kansas State was the place for me. From the time I got off the plane, everybody showed me love. When I left SMU, I still felt the same way so I made my decision."

California QB Looking For SMU Offer

By Russell Palmer

Despite coming off an impressive 12-1 season that saw him throw 19 touchdowns and over 1,800 yards, Cathedral Catholic (CA) quarterback Garrett Bogart only holds an offer from UNLV.

However, the 6-foot4, 205-pound signal caller has attracted interest from many top schools, including SMU, and although he hails from California, Bogart would be very interested in visiting the Hilltop sometime soon.

"I'm definitely really interested in SMU." he said, "As of right now, I have no plans to visit SMU, but if they reach out to me soon, I'd definitely like to head out there."

Despite not having all that much contact with the SMU coaches, the two-star prospect says that a good start to his senior campaign will be vital for him so he can show coaches what improvements he has made from last season.

"As of now, SMU hasn't said much," Bogart said. "They're waiting on my first few games of film from this season."

SMU is not the only school showing interest in Bogart, who says many other major programs are very interested in his services including Colorado, Oregon State, and UCLA.

This high interest from high profile schools isn't much of a surprise considering how Bogart spent his summer, traveling all over the country to attend various football camps including Washington and San Diego State.

A Look At How Some Of The SMU Recruits Did…

- Jarvis Baxter caught five passes for 67 yards in a 13-10 loss to Bishop Lynch

- JaBryce Taylor recorded four catches for 35 yards and a touchdown before leaving with an injury in a 45-14 loss to Longview

- Dee Paul passed for 159 yards and one touchdown and also rushed for 84 yards and two touchdowns in a 48-0 win over Bronte

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