Yanick Moreira has the most unique background of any player on the SMU roster this season. The 6-foot-11, 220-pound center, who is originally from Angola, transferred from South Plains Junior College after averaging 18.2 points, 9.8 rebounds, 2.3 blocks and 1.2 steals per game as a sophomore.
Moreiria was the number one rated JUCO prospect in the nation after his team went 22-8, but he chose to join the Mustangs over schools like Oregon, Pittsburgh and Texas A&M. The junior big man says the way head coach Larry Brown talked to him and his family was the biggest factor in his decision-making.
"After I talked to a lot of coaches and asked them a couple questions, I felt like the only one who was completely honest with me was Coach Brown," Moreira said. "That's why I chose SMU. Now that I'm here, I really love it. I love my teammates and my coaches."
Moreira has had to adjust to Browns coaching style so far this season. He says it can be difficult to deal with at times, but he understands the coach has his best interest in mind.
"Coach Brown is the kind of coach who likes everything to be perfect," Moreira said. "We just got to do what he wants. If we want to be successful playing basketball, we got to do what he wants us to do."
Moreira says he has also worked with associate head coach Tim Jankovich a lot on improving his offensive game. He has become much better at utilizing his size in the paint and simplifying his post moves.
"Since I got here, the coaches have been telling me that when I get the ball in the post, I have three moves," he said. "I have been working on catch and shoot, and my face up shot. That's it. Coach Jankovich has helped me a lot since he got here."
Although his offensive game is starting to develop, Moreira will always be much more of a defensive presence on the court. He says it's the part of his game he works on the most because it's what he enjoys doing.
"I take pride in rebounding and blocking shots," he said. "I have a little note in my locker that reminds me to rebound, defend and block shots. It's what coach Brown told me he wanted me to do when he was recruiting me. He said rebound for me, defend, and block shots so I was excited to hear that."'
Moreria also credits the development of his game to the work he put in with the Angola National Team this summer. He had a chance to work with the best players in the country and went up against plenty of good competition, including a game against Team USA.
"It was a pretty good experience," he said. "I always dreamed of playing for my national team, so I finally got to work with them. I feel like a better player and I feel much stronger."
Moreira has worked hard to improve his English because he believes it's important for building team chemistry. He says he has been very impressed with all his teammates this year because they have all have shown a willingness to share the ball and make each other better.
The team has had an interesting offseason so far with multiple recruits and visitors stopping by to watch practices. Moreria says it's been really special to meet some of the NBA's greatest players of all-time.
"I couldn't believe I saw Allen Iverson and David Robinson here," Moreria said. "When coach told me he was coming, I thought he was just playing with us. When I saw them, I was like ‘oh man, they are really here. This is awesome.' It was the best part of any practice so far."
Hoops Feature: Yanick Moreira
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