The Hilltop Review

Every Saturday morning, we provide exclusive stories and info!

Buford Enjoys SMU Visit

By Billy Embody

SMU assistant basketball coach Ulric Maligi has been on 2014 power forward Dante Buford from the early stages of his recruitment, and the relationship he has built with Buford is appearing to pay dividends. Buford was on the Hilltop on Friday for an unofficial visit.

Former Arlington Country Day (FL) assistant coach Patrice Days, who is now an assistant coach at Abilene Christian University, says that it's the interest that SMU showed in Buford so early that has the three-star prospect interested.

"They were actually the few to offer him first," Days said. "South Carolina and other schools were calling just interested, but this year SMU was one of the first to come watch him play."

Although Days and Buford, who visited with 2015 point guard Juwan Evans, haven't gotten to talk much about the visit, Days said Buford thoroughly ‘enjoyed' it.

"They like his athleticism and activity," Days said. "The advantage that Dante has is that he can shoot 3's and stuff like that."

The staff also has talked a lot about how they would like to use Buford, who has great athleticism at 6-foot-7, 209-pounds. Buford can rebound extremely well and is a big leaper and if he can add strength, the SMU staff could have an important piece to the team if the Mustangs land him.

"Kind of like a wing or hybrid forward," Days said. "A three-four combination so that when they go small they can have some advantages that way because he plays bigger than what he is."

One way Buford has been able to improve his game is through the AAU circuit, playing on Florida Elite along side other talented prospects. Days credits his friend Lamont Simmons, who has also helped Buford.

"Lamont Simmons decided for Dante to play for Florida Elite so other teams could see how they utilize him and how he could play," he said. "Most of the guys who were on his high school team played for Florida Elite."

To top it off, SMU hired Wichita State assistant coach K.T. Turner on Friday officially and that is a big plus for the Mustangs because Buford has known Turner for quite some time and held an offer from the Shockers.

"Really good. I am really good friends with K.T., really good friends," Days said. "So he's been familiar with (Dante) and he has known about him for a while."

The new addition to the SMU coaching staff along with Buford's strong relationship with the current staff can only be a plus for the Mustangs.

As Buford continues to gain notoriety and compete in camps and games, his recruitment could become more complicated if other teams jump in, but for now Buford is focused on narrowing it down.

Even though he is still wide open, SMU, USC, South Carolina, Baylor, Oklahoma and Texas are all on Buford's radar as well as Syracuse, where Buford believes he could thrive if offered.

Whichever school lands Buford will undoubtedly get a solid player on and off the court according to Days, who says Buford is ‘goofy,' but plays hard on the court, goes to class and wants to get better.



Quick Take: KT Turner

By Russell Palmer

Why It's A Good Hire

Chemistry: Turner is a noted friend of SMU assistant Ulric Maligi, who may in fact be the reason Turner was brought to the Hilltop. Maligi is expected to take over as the new recruiting coordinator for SMU, so hiring a friend who values the same ‘team approach' to recruiting means that Maligi now has a team of recruiters who he is on the same page with. Along with Maligi, SMU now has two young, energetic coaches eager to continue making a name for themselves on the recruiting trail. In the short term, Turner will go after highly rated prospects who have ties to the south, while in the long term provide coach in waiting Tim Jankovich with a young, aggressive recruiter for when Larry Brown decides to step down.

Local Ties: Turner has spent his entire coaching career in the south, and has established good ties with high schools in Texas and Oklahoma. While it may be a bit to late for Turner to make an impact on local 2014 stars like Emmanuel Mudiay Turner will have a chance to go after four and five star prospects in future classes and will have an impact in the recruitment of Arlington Country Day (FL) power forward Dante Buford.

Why it's A Questionable Hire

Inexperience: Turner comes to SMU after just one year with last year's Cinderella of the tournament, Wichita State. Prior to joining the Shockers, Turner was the primary recruiter for Texas A&M-Corpus Cristi for just one year, and an assistant for Hutchinson Community College for two years. This will be Turner's first go at it from a program in a big time conference and against big time programs, but will luckily have one of the games greatest mentors in Larry Brown and good friend Ulric Maligi at his side.

Loyalty: This will be an incredible fourth new job for Turner in four years, as well as his sixth new job in seven years. With a head coach in Larry Brown, who could decide to retire at any moment, having recruiters stay long term is a necessity for the Mustangs. Turner very well may stay on the Hilltop for an extended period, but for now, Tuner will have to establish a trust with recruits, players who may very easily question Turner's longevity with SMU.



Boozer Plans On Transferring To SMU

By Omar Majzoub

Linebacker Torey Boozer almost chose SMU over Missouri when he was a three-star recruit coming out of Everman in 2012. Now, he wants a second chance to join the Mustangs.

Boozer, who is listed as 6-foot-3, 210 pounds, is leaving Missouri after being arrested on drug charges in October. He was dismissed from the school's football team, but quickly decided on a new home for next year.

"I want to transfer to SMU," he said. "When I decided to transfer, it was my first option. I called them right away and have been talking to Coach (Tom) Mason and June Jones. I also talk to Horace Richardson and Lincoln Richard, who were my teammates and now go to SMU, like everyday and they tell me good things about it."

Boozer is a terrific athlete for a linebacker. He has great speed and agility, but can be caught out of place at times. He was listed as a third-stringer at Missouri, but could have chance to make a big impact for the SMU program.

"When I was getting recruited out of high school, my last two choices came down to SMU and Missouri," he said. "I picked Missouri, but I have always liked SMU. I think I would be a great fit there."

Boozer is considering all of his options for this upcoming year. He says he plans on ending up at SMU eventually, but it will probably take some time before he makes it on the field.

"I'm not sure if I will be there this year or not," he said. "We have been talking, and there's a chance I could go to JUCO for a year first. I'm just not sure, I haven't made up my mind on which one I want to do yet."

Whichever direction he chooses, Boozer will have a lot to prove. Not only is he changing schools, but he also is dealing with an injured hand. Either way, he says he is focused on getting ready for his new school in Dallas.

"I just got surgery on my hand, and I don't get my cast off until the 28," he said. "I think I will probably go to SMU for a year and just sit out to rehab my hand, get stronger in the weight room, and learn the system. Then I will be at my best."

It might be a risk for SMU to take on a player with a troubled past, but Boozer would immediately become one of the programs most talented players. We will know more about his status once he gets an update on his injured hand from doctors.



Ex-Utah WR Interested In Transferring To SMU

By EJ Holland

Heading into his junior season at Utah, Quinton Pedroza was expected to start at wide receiver and return kicks. But last week, his life was turned upside down.

Perdroza was dismissed from the team for violating team rules and will now have to transfer. As first reported the Utah Scout site, Pedroza has interest in coming to Texas and playing for SMU.

"I'm a receiver, and SMU throws the ball lot," he said. "I feel like I would be comfortable in that offense and also in that area down in Dallas. I don't have any type of relationship with their coaches, by my coaches here at Utah do."

Pedroza has not made contact with any of the SMU coaches but hopes to get in contact with wide receivers coach Jason Phillips. The 6-foot-2, 215-pounder believes he can learn from this setback and be an asset to the Mustangs.

"I know what to do and what not. I feel like I can be a leader now and lead by example," he said. "I gained a lot of experience at Utah. I feel like I can be a contributor at wide receiver, and I'll also play special teams."

Pedroza would have to sit out a year but could be a replacement for Keenan Holman the following season considering SMU does not have experienced depth on the outside.

In two seasons, Pedroza appeared in 14 games, mostly on special teams. Prior to enrolling at Utah, Pedroza played just year of high school football at Chino (CA) but was named league MVP after recording 54 receptions for 1,078 yards and 16 touchdowns.



Sam Still Interested In SMU

By EJ Holland

SMU was the first program to extend an offer to Allen linebacker Christian Sam, who has seen his recruitment explode and now holds 20 offers. And it's paying dividends.

"SMU is still in the mix. They are still in the mix and definitely not out of the equation," Sam said. "They are right down the street so I like that, and I've been on the campus a lot."

But unfortunately for SMU, Sam has lost contact with defensive coordinator Tom Mason.

"I haven't talked to him in a while," Sam said. "But I respect him. He's emailed me in the past, and I can tell he really cares because he's given me advice about the whole recruiting process in general and how I can fit in at different schools."

From our conversation, it appears SMU currently sits at No. 6, which means the staff will face an uphill battle for Sam's services. His other favorites include Arizona State, Oklahoma, Ole Miss, Baylor and Texas Tech, with the latter two leading the way.

"Baylor is close to home, and it's just a great upcoming program. They have been recruiting me really hard, and I just like what they have to offer," he said. "I really like it there, and Coach (Art) Briles and Coach (Jim) Gush are great coaches.

"Every time I go to Texas Tech, I have a great time. I really like the coaches because they are just great people and really care about me. They are doing some great things there."

Sam plans on making his final decision before the start of his senior season.



Perrin Talks SMU Offer

By Omar Majzoub

It's always much easier for a school to recruit a player when they already have some sort of relationship. 2014 offensive lineman Hunter Perrin of Hahnville (LA) has a very strong connection to the Hilltop through a former player.

"I think SMU is a great school," he said. "They have a great football team and it's where Ashton Duhe went. He is my best friend from home and lived across the street from me. He has told me really good things about the program."

Perrin is 6-foot-2, 275 pounds and plays mostly center. He picked up an offer from SMU a couple months ago when he came for the spring game. It was one of his first offers, but he has not visited since then.

"I don't really know a lot about the school yet," he said. "I haven't been on campus, and I have only been in contact with the coaches through email. I haven't talked on the phone to anybody."

Perrin was not ready to call SMU a favorite, but says they are definitely near the top of the list.

"I have plenty of offers and I'm real close with a couple schools," he said. "I don't have a timetable for my decision. If I find the school I want, I would commit there. As of right now, I'm open and still looking."

Perrin has been offered by Grambling State, Central Arkansas, and Alcorn State. He also attended camp at LSU and has been in contact with Southern Miss and Tulane. He says Jason Philips has been the most honest with him about what SMU likes about his game specifically.

"I'm really aggressive and love hitting people," he said. "I have a push to become better everyday, so I have been to 11 football camps the last two weeks. I love it. I'm just enjoying the grind."

Perrin said he hopes to already know where he is going before the season, so he can focus on winning a 5A state title with Hahnville. If he doesn't land an offer from LSU, SMU would be the favorite for him. But it is unclear just how many more offensive lineman SMU will be taking in this class.



Offer Coming For Strong?

By EJ Holland

Last weekend, SMU extended an offer to Cleveland defensive end Cedric Gambrell. His teammate, nose tackle Kevin Strong, also received strong interest from the Ponies earlier this spring but an offer has yet to come his way.

"They haven't offered yet. I actually haven't heard from SMU since Coach Hill came to see me last month," Strong said. "I'm still interested in them, and I might make it to their camp in July."

But just because the Mustangs haven't extended a scholarship doesn't mean he has no other options. His stock has risen in the last few weeks, and Strong now holds offers from Baylor, North Texas, Northwestern and UTSA.

"Baylor and UTSA are really sticking out to me," he said. "I have a great relationships with the UTSA coaches, and I'm going to make a visit there next month. I've wanted to go to Baylor since I was little, and I'll be at their camp in a few weeks."

The 6-foot-2, 285-pounder earned first team all-district last season after recording 79 tackles and eight sacks, but he's hoping for an even better year in 2013.

"My offseason has been going good. I work out every day for two hours," he said. "I'm going to go all out and do everything I can to make all-state."



Williams Hoping For SMU Offer

By Billy Embody There's already one Mansfield Legacy player committed to SMU and that is Chad Pursley, but his teammate, linebacker Everett Williams, would be a good player for the Mustangs to keep an eye on.

"I was interested in them. I was supposed to come down there one weekend, but I wasn't able to make it," Williams said. "Something came up, but yes I'm interested in them."

Williams was slated to camp with the Mustangs and instead will now be looking to schedule a visit since it is close to home.

Williams camped at Texas Tech, Oklahoma, TCU and Texas State, but Oklahoma State, who has yet to offer, is his favorite at the moment. Williams has offers from Minnesota, Navy and Louisiana-Monroe, but SMU would definitely jump to the top if they offered.

"They'd be pretty high on my list actually," Williams said. "I like the players, the team and how close it is to home."

Pursley hasn't talked with Williams much about SMU since Williams says, ‘he doesn't speak much,' but SMU has what Williams is looking for in a school.

"I want to go somewhere that afterwards I'd have a good education where I could do something with it after football," Williams said.

Aside from a few letters and trying to set up coming to camp, Williams hasn't had much contact from the Mustangs coaching staff even with his teammate committed. That could be a problem if SMU decided to pursue Williams since he'd also like to have a good relationship with the staff.

"It's really important to me to have a good relationship so that I could talk not just about football, but about life," Williams said.

With Williams' 6-foot-2, 220-pound frame and his reported 4.53 40-yard dash, as well as his experience in Mansfield's 3-4 defense, SMU wouldn't be disappointed with Williams if they were to pursue and land him.

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