The Hilltop Review

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

EJ's Recruiting Briefs

- Zelt Minor is making an official visit to Washington State today. It'll be interesting to see if SMU can keep him, but one big advantage the Ponies do have is Cedric Lancaster. Remember, Lancaster was the reason Minor switched from Houston to SMU.

- Dwayne Johnson had SMU in his top schools before committing to Purdue. He decommitted this weekend and will be visiting Washington State with Minor this weekend. SMU could still use an offensive tackle so he's someone to keep an eye on.

- Tere Calloway has pushed his decision date back to Jan. 18. As Billy reported earlier in the week, SMU is full at defensive back so Calloway will not be a Mustang.

- Even though SMU has a few spots open, it doesn't appear this staff is actively recruiting anybody anymore with the exception of Brian Pullen, who is still waiting for a call from Jason Phillips.

- Deontay McManus committed to Marshall over SMU. This was a surprise considering Marshall was not mentioned in the interview I conducted with him. Big loss for SMU.

- Deion Sanders Jr., Traylon Shead, Nate Halverson and Ty Law should all make it to SMU with no problem this Monday.

- Trey Washington and Jarvis Baxter have set their official visit to SMU for Feb. 2.

- Demarcus Ayers has officially eliminated SMU from his top schools

- SMU hoops commit Yanick Moreira scored a season high 26 points and grabbed a season high 14 rebounds in a 73-54 win over Midland College.

- SMU offered 2015 PG Jalen Brunson and 2016 PG De'Aaron Fox earlier this week.

Baxter Looking For Better Scores, Chance To Hoop

By EJ Holland

SMU commit Jarvis Baxter is in the middle of basketball season and is giving 110 percent on the hardwood but must do the same in the classroom if he wants to ensure he'll be a Mustang.

Baxter recently took his SAT but did not do too hot and is preparing to retake it at the end of the month in hopes of raising his score.

"I didn't do very well this time around. My scores weren't good enough," Baxter said. "I'm going to take it again and hope I can get my scores up. I've been studying really hard."

If everything goes according to plan, Baxter hopes to play both football and basketball on the Hilltop. He recently got the opportunity to play in front of SMU head basketball coach Larry Brown at the Fort Worth ISD/ Coca-Cola Tournament.

"It was really cool to have Coach Brown there," he said. "I really wanted to meet him, but I didn't get a chance to because he left at halftime of my game. I hope I can get in contact with him soon and the football coaches let me play both."

Baxter's Lakeview Centennial team finished second at the tournament and began district play this week. The two-star prospect, who says he's better at basketball than he is at football, is the team's third leading scorer behind a pair of top 2014 prospects including big man Elbert Robinson, who holds an SMU offer.

"The season has been going great so far. I'm really just trying to help my team right now by doing whatever I can," Baxter said. "I play the two and the three and I feel I could play both at SMU."

Baxter says his commitment to SMU is still solid and he hasn't heard from any other schools. His official visit to SMU is set for the first weekend in February.

Wacker Recaps Visit

By EJ Holland

When David Wacker picked up an offer from SMU last month, he was automatically intrigued. After all, Larry Brown recruited his father, Mike, and playing for a Hall of Fame coach in college is a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Just before the new year, the Converse Judson (TX) big man made an unofficial visit to SMU along with his father and was blown away with not only Brown but the entire Mustang staff.

"Coach Brown is definitely one of my favorite guys. My dad is a big fan as well. I love the staff a lot," Wacker said. "Coach (Tim) Jankovich is one of the best assistants in the country. My dad and him even started drawing up some plays together.

"Coach Ulric (Maligi) showed me around campus, and he was really cool. After the tour, I got to speak to Coach Brown, and it was so awesome. He is really intelligent, and it was a unique experience to be able to speak to a legend. He told me he really likes the way I play and needs me at SMU to do three things- block shots, run the floor and expect every shot to be miss so I can grab offensive boards. It was an honor."

While on his visit, Wacker witnessed SMU's dominant 72-53 win over Furman and was impressed with the team's style of play.

"I really liked the atmosphere. Coach Brown is building the team and establishing intensity in his players," Wacker said. "I know the students were on winter break, but it was very impressive and felt like a family environment."

The 6-foot-9 center currently holds eight offers from schools such as Houston, Indiana State and Western Kentucky, but SMU appears to be at the very top of his list.

"SMU is definitely one of my favorite schools right now. SMU has a very high quality education and they are going to be a national contender in a few years," he said. "At SMU, I feel wanted, and that's really important to me."

Crosby Sets Official Visit

By Beionny Mickles

When Colleyville Heritage (TX) safety Myles Crosby received an offer from SMU he instantly knew that the Hilltop is where he wanted be.

Since giving his verbal commitment to SMU, Crosby has been contacted by a number of different schools but says that nothing has changed- he's still sold on being a Mustang.

"I've been contacted by Tulsa, Arizona State, Purdue, New Mexico and Kansas." Crosby said. "I've just kind of been letting teams know that I'm not going to be accepting anything."

The second team Texas All-Stater says that it feels great to have a plethora of schools interested in him and he is happy to know that the hard work that he has put in over the past few years has paid off.

Crosby has had multiple conversations with his recruiter, running backs coach Wes Suan, since his commitment. In their most recent chat Crosby set the date that he will take his official visit to the Hilltop.

"I keep in touch with Coach Suan," Crosby said. "I actually called him the other day to set my official visit for January 25th."

Crosby says that on his visit he hopes to tour all of the academic facilities. One of the biggest reasons why Crosby pulled the trigger almost instantly after SMU offered was because of its film program, which he says is one of the best in the country.

"I'm majoring in film so (touring the academic facilities) is important to me," Crosby said. "One of the main reasons why I committed to SMU quickly is because I knew the film program was one of the top in the nation so I didn't waste time."

Crosby, who's Colleyville team lost in the second round of the playoffs this year, said he gave everything that he could to his team this year and was disappointed they lost to a Waco Midway team that advanced all the way to the semifinals.

Since the end of the season, Crosby says that he's been working out every day as well as running track. Crosby, who usually hoops this time of year, decided to forego his senior basketball season. Crosby says his goal for this offseason is to get bigger, stronger and faster.

"I've been training every single day. I have a regimen I do," Crosby said. "I've already gained ten or twelve pounds. I'm trying to get up to 215 or 220. I've gotten faster and quicker. I do a lot of plyometrics and a lot of work with the vertimax."

Brown Sees 2015 Recruit

By Beionny Mickles

SMU head coach Larry Brown took a trip to watch a couple of basketball prospects in the Huntington Prep vs. Prime Prep matchup in West Virgina just over a week ago.

One of the prospects, 2015 guard Austin Grandstaff, just transferred out to Huntington from nearby Rockwall (TX). Grandstaff said that he has spent some time around Brown before and was pleased to see him at one of his games.

"That was my first game with this new team so I didn't play very much," Grandstaff said. "I saw him a lot this summer too, but it was cool because he's a legend in coaching."

The 6-foot-5 180-pound combo guard says that so far he holds offers from Oklahoma, Texas A&M, Massachusetts, Marquette and SMU. However, when ranking the top five teams he is interested in currently, SMU does not make the cut.

"I haven't really broken it down but they're not in my top five or anything right now," Grandstaff said. "I think my top five right now is Texas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Syracuse, Duke and Alabama."

Grandstaff has been in contact with SMU assistant coach Ulric Maligi and said he visited his former school in Texas and watched him workout. Grandstaff added that Maligi thinks he has a chance to come to SMU and make an impact immediately.

"He's just been telling me that they're interested and not to count them out," Grandstaff said. "He thinks I can play there my first year and it is close to home."

Grandstaff says that he likes being in West Virginia a lot, but it is very different from Dallas. However, he feels that he is beginning to fit into the team well and is earning more minutes as each game goes by.

"It's big time," Grandstaff said. "I'm playing with some of the best players in the country here. It's getting me better and I'm starting to make it into the rotation."

Brown Checks Out Thomas

By Russell Palmer

When one plays for a team that consists of some of the top talent in all of the country at multiple grades, it is easy for one to be over shadowed by fellow teammates. However, that has not been the case for 2015 power forward Elijah Thomas.

Thomas, who now plays at Prime Prep(TX) after transferring from Rockwall has highly recruited teammates at nearly every position, including Emmanuel Mudiay, another SMU prospect.

Yet Thomas, who already stands at 6-foot-8 in his sophomore year, has been able to make a name for himself early on in his high school caree, and has garnered interest from some of the top programs in the country.

"Duke, Florida, Illinois, and North Carolina all are very interested," he said.

Along with those schools are Larry Brown and SMU. Brown has seen Prime Prep play many times this season including in a win over Huntington Prep last week, which has impressed Thomas.

"It was good to see him when we played. He's obviously a really good coach and has a lot of guys in the NBA," he said. "I'm definitely interested in SMU. I'm only a sophomore, so I'm looking at every school that has interest in me."

When discussing his main factors in a school, Thomas said coaching staff and academics have a major role in his decision, but in the end, Thomas is interested in finding a program that fits him the best.

"Location doesn't matter that much, besides being close to my family which would be nice." he said, "I really want to find a coaching staff that is going to push me and make me a better player."

Thomas did say that he has not talked to Mudiay or any other teammates about playing in college with them.

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