The Hilltop Review

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Lee To Make Decision After The Weekend

By Omar Majzoub

SMU is in a tight recruiting battle with Georgia and Alabama for three-star 2014 Dallas County (AL) power forward William ‘Haha' Lee.

Lee took an official visit to the Hilltop this past weekend after canceling his one to Wichita State. At Mustangs practice, he got a chance to meet future Hall of Famer Allen Iverson and talk with head coach Larry Brown.

Lee's high school coach, Willie Moore, said he spoke briefly with the 6-foot-9, 205-pounder about his visit to SMU.

"I will leave his visit details up to him and his parents to share if they want to do that," Moore said. "I will say that the coaching staff at SMU seems to be really good people. Coach Brown's name and legacy speaks for itself. He has the ability to help William get to the next level, but the situation he is looking for has him getting early playing time. That part only William knows because he has seen them practice."

Lee has also been talking with SMU commit Emmanuel Mudiay about the idea of playing together next season. But Moore says the presence of Coach Brown is the main reason the Mustangs have made Lee's top-three.

"Coaching staff is important because he has got to have a good relationship with the coaches," Moore said. "I also think style of play is going to be key. He wants to be able to walk in and get some early playing time. That's huge for him."

Moore says coaching ‘Haha' has been incredibly easy and fun. Although he has a lot of natural ability, Lee is also a very hard worker who is always looking to improve his game.

"His work ethic is what separates him. William is a tireless worker," Moore said. "He is a real good a player and he's big on skill development. If he misses two shots, he will stay after practice because he thinks he should make them all. That's just the type of person and type of player that he is. He is a real humble kid and doesn't have an ego. I kind of wish he did, actually."

Moore says he knew he was dealing with a special player when he sat his team down to discuss each person's role on the team.

"William basically said his role was to control the paint, be a good teammate, share the ball with everyone, and play off his teammates," Moore said. "I'm sitting there thinking ‘this is the best player in the state of Alabama, and he is saying he is going to play off someone else on this team? You gotta be kidding me.'"

Lee averaged 19.6 points, 17.5 rebounds, 5.1 assists and 15.5 blocks per game last season, but Moore says his goal is just to do whatever it takes to win games. After his last official visit this weekend, Lee will finally make his college decision.

"We will sit down after his Alabama visit and we will talk along with his family," Moore said. "William will tell us what he wants to do and where he wants to play basketball next year. It's an exciting time. I don't know what's going to happen, I can't say."

4-Star SF ‘In Awe' Of Larry Brown

By Adam Grosbard

D.J. Williams, a junior four-star small forward from Chicago, is being heavily recruited by a number of top programs with great head coaches. But meeting SMU's Larry Brown left Williams ‘in awe,' according to his mother, Lolo Williams.

"He likes SMU. Probably because of Larry Brown," Lolo said with a laugh. "He's got the NBA insight. We met Ulric (Maligi), and those coaches and they were just so friendly. Of course D.J. was in awe of seeing Larry Brown. But those assistant coaches were great. He was able to communicate with them and I could tell he was comfortable around them."

It says something that Williams was in awe of Brown. He has been recruited by a number of legendary coaches and programs throughout the country. Williams holds offers from SMU, Illinois, Georgetown, Providence, Nebraska and Wisconsin. He also has high interest from Michigan State and Kentucky has ‘touched based,' according to Lolo.

While Williams has not visited any schools as of yet, Lolo says that SMU is definitely on their list of places to go. Williams last saw the SMU coaches a month ago when they visited Chicago for open gym but he and his mother both receive regular text messages from the staff to check up on how they're doing.

Williams is being recruited by top programs close to home such as Illinois, but Lolo says geography is not a factor for her son.

"Right now, he's in that position where he's trying to figure how important is it. Do I want to stay home? Do I want to leave home?'" Lolo said. "He's somewhere in that mix right now trying to figure that out. I think it's just a matter of where he gets his interest from and where he gets his offers from. That will play a part in it too.

"I don't think that right now that (staying close to home) is a factor. I don't think it's a part of his equation because at this point I think that most kids want to get away from home and be on that campus. So who knows where his mind is. He's focused on his academics right now."

Williams is also putting his focus back on basketball again. After missing the first ten games of the season with an emergency appendectomy, the 6-foot-6, 202 pound small forward is starting to build back up his chemistry with his teammates at Simeon.

"When he got back he was a little winded, more so than the rest of them. And they had already played ten games together so they kind of had a feel for one another. So it was almost like he had to go in there and say, ‘Okay I'm here now. Include me,'" Lolo said. "But it worked out. He's still trying to find himself. He has a lot of pressure on him."

The pressure Lolo referred to has to do with Jabari Parker, Duke's new super freshman who last year graduated from Simeon. Now that Parker is off at college, Williams is often looked at to fill his shoes.

"This year he has this big thing on his back and everyone is expecting a lot out of him. So he has this big load and he hasn't figured out how to handle it yet," Lolo said. "He wants to set his own tone instead of the tone that the media has already set for him.

"I think a major thing for him right now is he's being compared a lot and he's being expected to do a lot. He wishes he could just play in his own shoes. I was in a meeting yesterday and someone was making an example like, ‘Remember when everyone was coming in to see Jabari Parker so now this year it's going to be about D.J.' I had to stand up and say, ‘No, it's not just going to be about D.J. We have a loaded team and it's going to be about the team.'

"Not that he won't be able to do that, but most people start from the bottom and work their way to the top. They just put him on the top. And nobody wants to go down, they want to keep going up. So he wanted to pave his own way but it seems like they paved it for him. That's what he's going through right now."

AAU Coach Says 5-Star Is Interested in SMU

By Adam Grosbard

2016 five-star shooting guard Tyus Battle has a mutual interest with SMU, according to Rob Brown, Battle's coach on Team Final.

"I definitely think he has an interest. Obviously Larry Brown and his success at every level, and I know Tyus and Tyus's father definitely respect that," Brown said. "Tyus's father also has a long relationship with Jerry Hobbie (SMU's special assistant to the head coach). So the relationships are there for sure."

While this is good news for SMU's chances with the 6-foot-5, 179-pound sophomore from Gill St. Bernard's School in Edison, New Jersey, there is a long list of schools after Battle's services. Indiana, Syracuse, Michigan, Ohio State, Rutgers, Villanova, Duke, Virginia, UNLV and SMU have all offered Battle.

"He's going to get recruited at the highest level. He's going to have a long list at this time. He's a sophomore. He hasn't cut it down. He's open to everything right now," Brown said. "He's just gathering as much information as he can."

Battle has taken unofficial visits to Ohio State, Indiana, and Syracuse. He was at Rutgers last weekend and was at Villanova for Hoops Mania this Friday. While he hasn't been to SMU, Hobbie, a New Jersey native, has been out to watch him play. According to Brown, Hobbie saw a player with many talents on the offensive and defensive end.

"He's kind of like a combo, high school version of Penny Hardaway and Kobe Bryant. He's an almost 6-foot-6 point guard for his high school team. He does a lot of the scoring. His shot has improved but he does set up a lot of his teammates," Brown said. "He does have that length and the height of a lot of those players.

"He plays one through three for us as well. If we want to bring up the ball, he handles the ball. He attacks from the wing from the off-guard position. He does everything really well on the perimeter. His defense is excellent. It's probably one of his most undervalued assets."

Brown could imagine how SMU would utilize Battle.

"From coaching NBA guys, I'm sure Larry Brown is used to coaching somebody with that size and athleticism on the perimeter. You could put guys like that at the wing or the baseline, but I'm sure Coach is used to using 6-5 guys at the one or the two, which is where Tyus and his father have a vision of him playing."

4-Star PG Holds SMU Offer

By Scott Sanford

When SMU picked up five-star Prime Prep Academy point guard Emmanuel Mudiay's commitment, they knew it might be a one-year ordeal, so they have not wasted any time looking for point guards in the 2015 class.

One of SMU's option is 6-foot-2, 165-pound Jimmy Whitt of Hickman (MO). Whitt, a four-star prospect, picked up an SMU offer last month.

LJ Goolsby, who is Whitt's AAU coach with KC Run GMC, believes Whitt likes SMU as a program.

"I think it (interest level) is high there's no question," Goolsby said. "It's a great program with a great coach so why not?"

Whitt is a player who, according to Goolsby, has to add some muscle to his long, slim frame, but has great lateral quickness and can shoot lights out.

Goolsby also believes that not every program has a coach like Larry Brown and just that will make Whitt think long and hard about the Mustangs.

"With all of the players Brown has coached, I think he would really be able to bring out the best in Jimmy," Goolsby explained. "Larry Brown will help any player grow, but I know Jimmy could benefit from his coaching tremendously."

Whitt has also received offers from Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Missouri and Kansas State, among others, and recently Colorado has started recruiting the point guard pretty hard.

Whitt will have a ton of offers to choose from when it is time for him to make his decision, but at this point, the junior has no favorites.

SMU Pursuing Local SF

By Scott Sanford

Even with the SMU basketball team just two weeks away from their season opener against TCU at American Airlines Center, the coaching staff is still hard at work on the recruiting trail.

What has been so impressive is that while SMU's 2014 recruiting class is still not full, the coaching staff continues to vigorously recruit players from the classes of 2015, 2016 and even 2017.

Triple A Academy 2016 small forward Harrison Henderson is one of those players on SMU's radar.

Henderson, who stands 6-foot-8 and weighs 185 pounds, has a long and slim frame, which Coach Marland Lowe of Texas Pro says can be good and bad at times.

"Being 6'8 or 6'9, he's got great range so when he puts the ball on the floor or he pulls up for three his length is an advantage," Lowe said. He's so lengthy though he definitely needs to work on his strength so he can battle with the bigger guys."

Lowe said that Henderson has been in touch with all of the SMU coaching staff, but Coach (Ulric) Maligi has kept in contact with the sophomore the most. Maligi actually offered Henderson this spring.

Although Lowe has not spoken with Henderson recently, he knows that Henderson would benefit greatly learning from Larry Brown.

"Oh wow, I mean, definitely all of the small nuances, intangibles and the details that go into the games," Lowe explained. "I think he (Henderson) could really learn how to become a complete, elite and professional player under Brown."

So far, Henderson has received offers from SMU and New Mexico State, but Lowe emphasized that schools such as Baylor and Texas have also expressed interest in the small forward.

While Lowe could not confirm whether or not Henderson has any planned visits in the near future, he did say that Henderson has ‘stopped by' the SMU campus before.

SMU Interested In California OL

By Omar Majzoub

The SMU offensive line has been the team's most disappointing group so far this season. They have struggled with penalties and poor blocking all year.

Now, the coaching staff is targeting multiple offensive line recruits to help fill their need. One of the players they have shown interest in is Class of 2015 guard Zack Flores.

Flores is a 6-foot-2, 260 pounder from Caruthers (CA). He participated in a lot of camps this summer and got a chance to meet one of the Mustang coaches.

"I received some interest from them when I visited Texas this summer and participated in a camp they were at," he said. "I talked to one of their coaches, but I don't remember his name. He told me he liked how I looked and said they were considering offering me."

Flores hasn't been able to visit the Hilltop, so he is unfamiliar with the SMU program. But he plans on starting to take visits next month and says he will consider stopping by.

"Pretty much, what I know about SMU is that they are historically good at football, but they have been down for the past few years," he said. "I want to go to a smaller school. I don't want to go to a huge school like Texas or something like that if you catch my drift. I think SMU fits that bill."

Flores, who holds an off from UNLV, has also been in contact with North Texas, Hawaii, San Jose State, and Colorado State. He has worked with Nick Pennisi, the USA Football National Coordinator, to help get his name out.

"I rely on my parents a lot to help me with recruiting," Flores said. "I also work with USA football and Nick Pennisi. He helps me out a lot, too. I still think it's really early in the process for me."

Flores says he is intrigued by June Jones and Hal Mumme's offense at SMU. He thinks he would be a good fit in any scheme because of his versatility and ability to play every position across the line.

"I can play both interior line and tackle," he said. "I can pass and run block really well, but my strength is probably in the run game. I can definitely lean on my run blocking more."

Caruthers is just 4-3 so far this season, but Flores, who was a first-team all-West Sequoia League selection in 2012, says he has won player of the week on his team for three weeks in a row. As his recruitment picks up, SMU could decide to show more interest.

VIDEO: Jeremy Johnson

A look at how some SMU commits did…

- Jordan Ingram caught two passes for 40 yards and a touchdown in Dallas Carter's 50-0 win over North Dallas.

- OLB Chris Jefferson played WR on Friday and caught two passes for 24 yards and a touchdown in Athens' 56-14 win over Mabank.

- Houston Lamar plays on Saturday so we'll have those stats on the board. Austin Westlake was on bye so no Jordan Severt stats.

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