2015 Prime Prep center Djery Baptiste only started playing basketball a short time ago, but he is already drawing the eyes of a number of top-tier basketball programs, including SMU.
The junior from Port-au-Prince, Haiti, is still learning the intricacies of basketball and thinks that learning from SMU head coach Larry Brown could really benefit him.
"It would be great to play for a coach like Larry Brown," Baptiste said. "He's been in basketball for a long time, and he has all these experiences so it would be great for me to learn from him."
Brown was sitting front row to watch Baptiste and his AAU squad, the Texas Titans, play the LBA Seawolves in the Great American Shootout at Duncanville last month and felt he performed well in front of the Hall of Famer.
"The game was pretty good," Baptiste said. "I just need to rebound more and improve my offensive game."
Baptiste looked most comfortable on the defensive end. He played solid defense on his man, often four star-center and fellow SMU recruit Elbert Robinson. Baptiste now weighs 225 pounds after he added 40 pounds this past year so could compete with big men like Robinson down low.
The 7-footer often did have trouble boxing Robinson out but provided good help defense and was a good shot blocker, making it difficult for Robinson and the Seawolves to score inside.
Where Baptiste really struggled was on the offensive end, where he looked uncomfortable with the ball in his hands. He set the occasional pick but often looked lost when his team had the ball.
He did know what to do on fast breaks, however, running the floor to get easy dunks.
But all of that would improve under the guidance of a coach like Brown.
Baptiste says he is strongly considering SMU and was on the Hilltop for an unofficial visit last month, which he thoroughly enjoyed.
"It's a pretty nice campus," Baptiste said. "They have a really great coach and it's a high D-1 school so I'm very interested."
Baptiste may be a raw product, but he is reminiscent of a young NBA star, who also picked up basketball later in life. Oklahoma City forward Serge Ibaka moved from the Congo to Spain and picked up the sport as a teenager.
Ibaka has developed his offensive game and became a reliable post option and mid-range jump shooter.
If Baptiste can similarly grow as a basketball player, he could become a great all-around player.
Playing at SMU under Brown could be exactly what Baptiste needs to be a complete player, and his legal guardian agrees.
"When Larry Brown shows up, man it's like okay," Derrick Shelby said. "That's because everyone knows he's got 50-plus years in the coaching business so everyone has either worked for him or coached with him in the country no matter what level.
"Some NBA GMs have worked for him somewhere in their career so with the relationships that coach Brown has, you can't find somebody with more. Because of that, you have to look at it cause they're building something special there."
Baptiste holds an offer from Boston College and has also received interest from Maryland and Boston.
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