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!

McDonalds All-American Game Scouting Report: Keith Frazier

By Omar Majzoub

It was not the way Keith Frazier envisioned his McDonalds All-American Game experience would be. Once he checked in, he struggled shooting from the field, going 2-for-9 including 0-for-6 from three-point range. He also had an ugly turnover and less than stellar shot selection all game while being closely guarded by Matt Jones.

However, Frazier did help SMU get a lot of exposure on the biggest stage for high school recruits. His presence at the game after already announcing his commitment to the Hilltop caught ESPN announcer Jay Williams' attention.

"I got a chance to talk to Jerrance Howard today, and they are so excited about Mr. Frazier," Williams said during the broadcast. "I think things are going to be changing at SMU even though they struggled this year in Conference USA."

The attention the program received during the game was incredible. Williams followed up talking about how important getting the first All-American is to a school and how happy and honored Frazier was to be here. Jalen Rose was quick to point out that he was the only recruit from the American Athletic Conference to make the McDonalds game.

Frazier's finished with six points, two rebounds, and a very fancy layup in about 15 minutes of play. He showed off his smooth jumper and range by shooting well beyond the NBA three-point line multiple times. He also displayed incredible body control and the ability to finish in traffic. Simply put, Frazier showed he could score in every way possible.

Overall, he surprised me on defense and in transition. He was hustling for loose balls and running the floor well in a game where nobody was playing hard. It was similar to an NBA All-Star game because everyone was playing selfishly and the game was extremely unorganized.

However, Frazier put a good defensive effort out on display. He has the wingspan and height to where I think he can be a lockdown defender with good coaching and the right attitude.

Once he comes to SMU and learns from Larry Brown, Frazier can hopefully eliminate most the problems he displayed. He is the type of player that can take over a game when he gets hot. It's just a matter of eliminating the mental mistakes and learning how to the play the game the right way.



More On Westerfield

By EJ Holland

As Erin Hartigan first reported, SMU offered Noah Westerfield on Wednesday morning while on an unofficial visit, and the Frisco Wakeland outside linebacker is overjoyed.

"When I first walked into the lobby, I met with Coach (Tom) Mason, and he said I would be the perfect fit for SMU as a student and as a player," Westerfield said. "I was really excited and thought to myself, can I make this home? They are my No. 1 for sure."

In fact, Westerfield thought long and hard about committing after his meeting with Mason but ultimately decided to wait.

"I did think about it. But I want to see what else is out there," he said. "I really love SMU though. I can play in front of my mom, and it's a great school. I've been to LSU too, but SMU has a better family environment.

"I met with Coach Mason in his office, and he told me that I would be a great fit in his defense as an outside linebacker. We talked a little bit about the 3-4 and how they have over 30 blitzes, which I really like. He also took me around the campus and the facilities."

Westerfield, who holds offers from Fresno State and New Mexico, also enjoyed watching the Ponies practice and says he could easily see himself as part of the team in the future.

"I like being physical so it was different, but I really liked it," he said. "They focused a lot more on technique and fundamentals. There was no yelling either so I feel like I could learn a lot."



Q&A With RB Ronnell Sims

By EJ Holland

EJ: What's it been like making the transition from wide receiver to running back?

RS: It's a tough transition. I think receiver is tougher mentally, but learning new concepts is kind of tough on me right now and trying to learn protections also. I'm comfortable running the ball, but it's the protection part that's going to be tough, blocking linebackers and defensive ends that are a lot bigger than me. I think once I get that down, it'll be easier for me and more fun.

EJ: I know you were a running quarterback in high school so this move may benefit you. But how did it all happen? Why did the coaches decide to move you?

RS: I always joked about playing running back when I first got here. When Coach (Hal) Mumme came in, well, he was at a school in Abilene, McMurry, so he already knew who I was. He wanted me to play running back at McMurry so when he came here, he said he wanted me at running back. He wanted to use me like he was going to had I gone to McMurry. Plus there were a lot of issues going on so he figured I would just be happier at running back.

EJ: Right now, there isn't really a permanent running backs coach. But Timmy Chang and Wes Suan have been helping y'all out. Can you talk about each coach and how they've helped you make the transition?

RS: We're not with Coach Suan too much so it's mainly been Coach Timmy. As soon as I made the transition, I met up with him, and he's been teaching me on and off the field about protections and so forth. They are both good coaches. We all met with Coach Suan one time, and I got a lot of information from that one meeting so they both know their stuff. It's just a matter of how fast I pick it up.

EJ: Obviously, you're new to the position but how much time do you figure to get in the rotation this season?

RS: What I was told was if I can protect then I have a shot to play. Running the ball is the easy part. But the protection is the toughest part. You have to learn the techniques and different angles to block bigger guys because you don't want to meet anybody head on.

EJ: Your high school teammate Darius Joseph is starting in the slot this year. Can you talk a little bit about him and how you think he'll do in that role?

RS: I think he'll be good. He overcame a lot of adversity growing up. In high school, he started, but he didn't really shine as much as he could have because we ran the ball a lot. I think next year will be his coming out year. He works harder than anybody I know. He's not cocky. He's really humble. I think he deserves it.



Scouting Report: 2014 Prime Prep PG Emmanuel Mudiay and 2015 C Elijah Thomas

By Omar Majzoub

Emmanuel Mudiay led Prime Prep to a 66-65 overtime victory over Blanche Ely of Florida in the first round of the National High School Invitational on Thursday. Mudiay, one of the stars of the entire tournament, finished the game with 10 points, seven rebounds, and six assists, showing why he is considered one of the most dynamic underclassmen in the country.

Mudiay, ranked third in the class of 2014, displayed an ability to get anywhere he wants on floor at any time and destroyed Blanche Ely when he got into the paint. He looked extremely athletic and had some incredible passes, including multiple alley-oop assists from near midcourt. He used his excellent vision and dribble penetration to draw in the defense and find open teammates all game.

He did struggle shooting the ball, going just 4-of-13 from the field and missing a couple free throws. He also lost control at times and turned the ball over a lot, but overall he showed good body control. He had flashes of terrific defense, like stealing the ball and taking it full court for an easy layup and causing a five second violation in crunch time. Probably his biggest highlight of the night was when he hit a buzzer beater from midcourt to end the first half.

Mudiay's teammate and fellow SMU recruit Elijah Thomas also played well in very limited minutes. The raw 6-foot-9 sophomore was in foul trouble all game but also showed why he is the sixth rated player in his class.

Thomas, who is nicknamed ‘muffin' for his undefined and large body, was very active in the paint on offense and defense in this game. His size allows him to be a really strong rebounder and finisher. His body is still very undeveloped, but he has broad shoulders and a soft scoring touch with both hands. He finished the game with three rebounds, one block, and six big points in overtime.

SMU was mentioned a couple times during the broadcast as one of the teams interested in both Mudiay and Thomas. The other programs listed were Kansas, Kentucky, Louisville, Arizona and more. Obviously, getting these players would be another huge accomplishment for this program.



Sizelove Not Interested In SMU

By EJ Holland

With Big 12 offers from Kansas State, Iowa State and Texas Tech, Argyle outside linebacker Sam Sizelove has eliminated SMU from his potential choices. The three-star received an offer earlier this spring but made it pretty clear he's not interested.

"I want to stay in the Big 12 so I'm not considering SMU," he said. "I want to stay close to home but like I said, I want to play big time football in the Big 12 and SMU can't offer that."

The 6-foot-4, 225-pounder notched over 100 tackles last season and is visiting Kansas State this weekend.



Q&A With QB Neal Burcham

By Beionny Mickles

B: Last year was your very first year on campus and you seemed to still be recovering from the knee injury. How are you feeling these days? Is it still bothering you at all?

NB: No it's fine. It's 100 percent right now, feeling good.

B: You've come in and pretty much gotten a chance to learn right alongside Garrett Gilbert. How comfortable do you feel in the offense?

NB: Real comfortable actually. I feel great about making all the calls and making any calls I need to. Now it's just a matter of getting all the coaches to see that and everyone else to trust me as well.

B: There were a few games where Gilbert really struggled last year and some say it's because he didn't have enough time to really get a grip on the offense. How complex is the Run N' Shoot and what was the hardest part for you to grasp?

NB: Well it is complex, and the thing about it is you have to be on the same page as everyone on the field and I think that goes with offensive linemen as well as our receivers. You have to know all the protections and all the routes that they're going to do and be on the exact same page or it's not going to work out. I think that last year he took a lot of blame that maybe wasn't all his fault so it's a complex offense, and I think the main thing about it is you have to be on the same page as everyone on the field.

B: You just talked a little bit about being on one accord with everyone on the field, how comfortable are you with your receivers and what's your relationship with them so far?

NB: I feel real comfortable. I'm pretty close with all the guys in the receiving core. We come out here and get some work in as much as we can. I'm still working on that so I can get even more comfortable with all the guys and what their techniques are and things like that.

B: What part of your game would you say is the strongest? What do you do best?

NB: I feel like making plays is something that I do and making something out of nothing sometimes. Sometimes when a play breaks down you've got to be able to find the open guy, and I feel like I do that pretty well, but there's a lot of things I need to work on and will continue to work on.

B: Talk a little bit about the addition of coach Hal Mumme and how he has helped to evolve you guys' style of play?

NB: He's come in and really brought his knowledge to SMU and it's really been enlightening. He knows a lot of good things that maybe we didn't do last year as far as quick game and screens and things like that. It's definitely been great having him around. He definitely knows what he's talking about.

B: What are your goals for the spring and what are some of your expectations for the upcoming year?

NB: As a team just obviously to get better every day and have the mindset of continuing to get better. Going into the new conference we're going to have to really work hard at that. I think it's just a matter of getting better every day and taking it one day at a time.



Hubbard Visits SMU

By Russell Palmer

Sachse (TX) defensive back Marcus Hubbard was on the Hilltop last month for the SMU junior day and enjoyed the visit so much he decided to take in a practice earlier this week.

Hubbard, who was accompanied by a few teammates, was impressed by the simplicity of the SMU practice.

"I liked it a lot. It was a light practice. They didn't have much contact," he said. "They kept it simple, which I liked, and the coaches seemed involved."

Hubbard, who averaged eight tackles from the secondary, was able to talk to a few of the leaders of the Mustang program after practice.

"I talked to June Jones which was really cool, and I was able to talk with Tom Mason a bit." he said, "I wanted to talk to the secondary coach, but he left practice fast so I was able to."

While on his junior day visit, Hubbard had an opportunity to tour the SMU facilities and campus and was impressed with what the Mustangs had to offer.

"I liked the campus. They are making a lot of improvements which is good to see because it means they are trying to get better."

For now, Hubbard is focused on getting ready for his senior season and participated in a varsity sport this winter to improve his game.

"I ran varsity track to help my speed," he said. "I also worked on getting bigger, and back pedaling, and a lot of little things like that."



Wilson Attending SMU Junior Day

By EJ Holland

Sammy Wilson didn't suit up last season. In fact, he spent his entire time focused on track after transferring from Richardson Pearce to Highland Park. But that hasn't stopped SMU from recruiting the speedy athlete.

Wilson, who will play running back and safety for the Scots this year, was invited to SMU junior day a couple of months ago but couldn't attend due to the flu. Wilson, however will be on the Hilltop later this month for SMU's second junior day.

"Unfortunately I missed the first one, but I'm really looking forward to this one," he said. "I definitely want to meet the coaches and see the campus and the facilities. I just hope to learn more about the program."

If SMU were to offer, it's safe to say Wilson would be more than excited. He has grown up watching the Mustangs and says SMU one of his favorite schools. At 5-foot-11, 195-pounds with 4.57 speed, Wilson also believes he can be a dangerous weapon in SMU's Run N' Shoot offense.

"I'm actually a pretty big fan. I really like SMU," he said. "It's close to home, and it seems like a good environment. I like the offense too. I'm interested in majoring or minoring in business, and I know they have a really good business school so I like that as well."

While running the 100m and 4x100m relay has been Wilson's main focus this spring, he is beginning to turn his attention toward football as his recruitment picks up and the season approaches.

"The offseason has been pretty good," he said. "I'm just trying to get back into it. I want to gain 10 pounds by the start of the season, and I'm going to focus on my Olympic lifts."



Q&A With NT Nick Reed

By Omar Majzoub

Omar: It's still your first year at SMU so what do you think of it so far?

NR: I like it. I got hurt last season during two-a-days, so I missed the whole year with a back injury. But it feels good to be back out here.

Omar: How does your back feel now?

NR: Its feels great. I've felt good all spring.

Omar: What did you learn from sitting out all of last year?

NR: I got to sit back and watch the defense run the plays. Mental reps, mental reps, mental reps over and over again, so now I just eat and sleep defense.

Omar: Do you feel like you have something to prove this spring?

NR: Oh, definitely. I approach it with the mindset that I didn't show them anything last year because I was hurt. So I'm just like another incoming freshman. I got to work my way up.

Omar: What is your biggest strength as a football player?

NR: Speed. I'm fast for my size.

Omar: What do you think the defensive line can do to replace guys like Margus Hunt, Torian Pittman, and Kevin Grenier?

NR: We got guys that can step up and play, so we are just reloading the defense every year.

Omar: What's your goal for this season?

NR: Conference champs!



Proche Visits Texas, Still Interested In SMU

By EJ Holland

Earlier this month, 2015 Prime Prep wide receiver James Proche took a trip down to Austin for Texas sophomore day and was blown away.

"My Texas visit was amazing. For me to have an opportunity to go was a blessing," he said. "I got to watch them practice, and it was intense. That was great to see. As far as the facilities, I don't know if anybody can run with Texas."

But that doesn't mean he's lost interest in SMU, which is the only program that has officially extended an offer.

"SMU is on the same plane as everybody else right now including Texas," he said. "I have no lists, but the reason they would be high list is because of the academics and their training facility is top of the line."

The 6-foot, 180-pounder recorded 11 receptions for 264 yards and three touchdowns in Prime Prep's shortened season last year. With a full slate of games on tap for 2013, Proche says he and his squad are ‘ready to play each game like it's their last.'

This weekend, he will attend Texas A&M sophomore day.



Arlington DB Has Little Interest

By Beionny Mickles

Arlington High defensive back Jacob Nwangwa attended SMU junior day back in February and thinks that SMU is a great school especially academically.

But when it comes to football, he has his other preferences.

"I'm really big on academics," said the 6-foot-1 178-pound free safety. "I thought it was really good how they manage time for the players to study. I like the school but as far as playing football, I think it's a little too close to home. "

Although SMU was the only junior day Nwangwa attended it was not the only one he was invited to. Nwangwa says that Oklahoma State, LSU, Washington State, Iowa State, Tulsa and Utah all invited him to their campuses but due to school he could not make the trips.

Nwangwa, who plays safety, cornerback and wide receiver, says he has been working hard this offseason on the parts of his game that need work.

"I'm really smart with reading everything," Nwangwa said. "My footwork is also pretty good because I've been working on that more and more. I need to work on getting down hill quicker and not getting too wide in my back pedal."

Recently, Nwangwa was invited to attend a Nike Training Camp, which will take place on Sunday, and he will also be participating in the football university training camp.

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