The Hilltop Review

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An Inside Scoop on Daviyon Draper

By Adam Grosbard

One of the great mysteries of K.T. Turner's visit to Southern California last week was Daviyon Draper, a junior college player for Antelope Valley College.

Turner witnessed a bad performance by Draper (11 points in that game and 29 points in the next game that Turner did not attend) so no offer was made, but there is still interest from SMU in the sophomore.

Not a lot was known about Draper, but his former AAU coach, Etop Udo-Ema of the Compton Magic, was happy to fill in the details.

"I love Draper. When he played for us two years ago, we played him a lot like a point forward. He brought the ball up and all that. He really handled the ball," Udo-Ema said. "Now, he doesn't bring the ball up for (Antelope Valley), though they do isolate him on the perimeter to show his perimeter skills. He's big (6-foot-8) so they play him as four over there. He's not a four, though. They're playing him in the post because he's big and athletic but he's a perimeter player, 100 percent. That's JUCO for you."

As a senior at Locke High School, Draper averaged 24.5 points per game and was named to the first team All-Los Angeles. But because of his academics, Draper did not qualify to go to a Division I program.

"He's from a really crazy, tough neighborhood. He comes from nothing, from a really serious, socio-economic situation. They're groomed to not make it where he's from," Udo-Ema said. "He was very, very close to qualifying but he didn't have a mom or dad there to tell him to work on school. He comes from extreme poverty. He would have been a mid-major player in high school if he had qualified."

Now, Udo-Ema describes Draper's college search as "all over the place."

"You know how JUCO is so it's all over the place. And I could see why because they don't play him at his strength," Udo-Ema said. "But it's not their fault. They do it by necessity because he's in JUCO and he's bigger and athletic so they got him in the post. But he's very capable of being a mid-major plus, high-major minus type of dude if you can see the type of stuff he's doing."

While Udo-Ema thinks Draper would be ready to play right away, he thinks there might be another transition period for him coming to a bigger program.

"He may need to transition socially, depending on what type of school it was. Like he wouldn't fit in at an Ivy League school," Udo-Ema said. "If anything, it's going to be that, but even had to do it at the school he's at now. It's in the middle of nowhere so he had to adjust to that. I don't think the transition would be crazy, but he'd still have to transition."

AAU Coach Talks 3-Star Point Guard

By Adam Grosbard

On his trip to Southern California last week, SMU assistant coach K.T. Turner watched a number of high school players. One of the players he watched and offered was Sedrick Barefield, a 2015 three-star point guard out of Corona Centennial.

Barefield's AAU coach, Etop Udo-Ema of the Compton Magic, says that Barefield has not yet processed the SMU offer because it all happened so fast.

"I don't know if he has had time to digest it yet because it just happened. I brought K.T. over (to Centennial High School) to see him," Udo-Ema said. "K.T. was in town and he wanted to see as many guys as possible so I told we should go check Sedrick out. "He really liked Sedrick. The kid is big-time now. He's already been offered by half the country. He's a big-time player now, a big-time point guard. He's got good size, he can handle it, he can really shoot it."

Listening to Udo-Ema describe Barefield's game, it isn't hard to see why Turner offered him then and there.

"He's pretty good at a lot of different things. He can pass it, he can shoot it, he can really handle the ball, he's strong, he's got good size at 6-foot-2. I mean, he's got the whole package for a point guard," Udo-Ema said. "Sedrick is also a very good leader. His high school team is ranked (14 in state and 59 nationally), and he's the best dude on that team. He's had a great career there. He was first team all-league as a freshman.

"You hear about these kids that are ranked top 20, he should be ranked top 20. There are times when you watch him that you think, he's a top 20 point guard. It's just a matter of when you're watching him. Guys aren't putting their eyes on the younger kids yet but when they start putting their eyes on him, he'll go up."

Ever the coach though, Udo-Ema was still able to point out one area where he would like to see Barefield improve before he goes to college.

"If he wants to be with the super elite point guards, he's going to have to get a little bit more athletic. He's athletic, but he's going to have to show it in the game," Udo-Ema said. "You know how that works, if you want to catch guys' eyes you got to be dunking the ball. He can dunk but he's got to start doing that in the games."

Barefield currently holds other offers from San Diego State, Boston College, UConn, Creighton, Memphis, Missouri and Kansas State. He also has received interest from UCLA, USC, Stanford, Tulsa, Florida, and Michigan.

While SMU does not have a traditional foothold in Southern California basketball recruiting, Udo-Ema thinks this is the perfect time for the school to establish itself.

"The classes in 2015 and 2016 in Southern California are so loaded that all those kids cannot go to the Pac-12. So schools like SMU are going to be able to come in and get guys because we are so loaded," Udo-Ema said. "And in the Pac-12, most of those schools have already taken point guards, so there's not much in the Pac-12 for all these guys to go to, which is the traditional league for high-major guys in SoCal. So schools like SMU are going to be able to come in and get guys they normally wouldn't be able to get."

Q&A With South Oak Cliff Recruiting Coordinator R.J. Bond

By EJ Holland

EJ: Before we get into SMU's recruiting efforts and all that good stuff, an offer was extended to 2015 wide receiver J.F. Thomas. Can you talk about him?

RJ: JF is pretty new to the game at wide receiver. This was his first year playing the position so he still has some polishing up to do. But I thought he had an excellent year at wide receiver. He has the talent to do some great things. I didn't get a chance to sit down and talk to him about the offer, but I caught him before he went to basketball practice. I told him Coach Phillips had texted me saying SMU had offered him, and he smiled and was really excited.

EJ: How do you think Thomas would fit in SMU's pass heavy Run N' Shoot offense?

RJ: I think he's still learning to be a better receiver. He can move the chains, he can be a deep threat and he can also sit down in zones and make catches. He can take a hitch and go 45 yards. He's really good in space. He's just a dynamic wide receiver who would be a good fit in any offense. I think SMU really liked him because of how tall he is, and that boy can really run.

EJ: I was actually surprised SMU sent out such an early offer to a player from SOC since they don't target very many kids from there. What's your relationship like with the SMU staff?

RJ: Well, I was at Lakeview Centennial when they were recruiting Jarvis Baxter, and I've always had a pretty good relationship with them. I'm pretty new here, but they are looking at our kids. I have seen Coach (Jason) Phillips around. I've known him since he was at Houston, and he came to look at some of our kids. I also talk to Coach (Tom) Mason. I've been telling him about some of our kids here. I talk to him almost every week about our kids and football in general. And Coach (Derrick) Odum recently started talking to us. I think they're putting in the effort here. They just need to land that one kid. We like SMU, and it would be good to see them get more talented kids from DISD. But SMU does have a good relationship with South Oak Cliff.

EJ: So if they've been around, why haven't they offered more kids from SOC? In 2014, they passed on a BCS prospect in Jyaz Jones and a 1,600-yard receiver in Fonzale Davis, who is committed to North Texas. They can't land guys if they don't offer.

RJ: I don't know why they didn't offer Fonzale. Coach Phillips came by to watch him, and we sent all that tape and everything so I don't know why. I guess they just had other receivers they had ahead of them. And I guess they haven't offered now since they're full. As far as Jyaz, he's been injured throughout his career so I can why SMU and other schools passed on him. At the same time, he has a lot of potential. He is a big, athletic safety, and that's why some schools did offer him. I think they're starting to put in more effort, and you'll probably see them offer more guys from here in 2015.

EJ: You say some of the coaches are putting in the effort. But what about June Jones? What are your thoughts on his recruiting efforts in the area? Has he stopped by?

RJ: No, but I honestly can't say too much about his recruiting efforts since my kids aren't that far along in the process. I think he's doing a great job of coaching though. He's doing an excellent job of winning bowl games. I think more kids are starting to see that. They just have to get caught up to a school like TCU, that's been the big dog in the metroplex. If they can win a BCS game or two, they might be able to land that one kid that leads to landing other top kids in the area. It's hard to say why SMU doesn't get as many local kids, but I think he has them heading in the right direction.

EJ: Do you think SMU's reputation as a rich, affluent university has had any affect on its ability to land kids from south Dallas?

RJ: Not really. I think DISD kids are tough and are up for any challenge. Let me put it this way, these kids are from Dallas. They like this city, it's close to home and it's close to their family. SMU is right in the middle of Dallas. I think there are some kids that would love to stay here. If they were to go to SMU, I think it would be great for the community of Dallas.

EJ: So what do you think is the biggest challenge SMU faces when it comes to luring local prospects?

RJ: Like I said, they just have to get caught up. There is so much competition here in the metroplex for so much talent. You have Baylor, Oklahoma, Texas and TCU all looking at the same kids. It's just tough to sway them to go with SMU when they have opportunities like that. But think things can eventually change. They just have to get that one kid.

EJ: It's been refreshing to hear that SMU is making some efforts so what other 2015 South Oak Cliff prospects are the coaches looking at?

RJ: They've come by to see a few guys along with JF. Prentice McKinney is a guy that will have some interest from them. He's our safety with a few offers. Jamile Johnson is another defensive back with offers. He actually visited. They offered Jordan Stevenson when he was at Skyline, but he committed to Texas. I've been telling Coach Mason about our defensive tackle Chauncey McCaulie. They will look at these guys so we'll see if they offer.

Odum Visits Florida Linebacker

By EJ Holland

Danny Thomas was supposed to be on the Hilltop for an unofficial visit last weekend, but a schedule conflict kept him home.

Thomas, a 2015 outside linebacker out of Cypress Bay (FL), picked up an offer from SMU last month, shorty after the Mustangs picked up a commitment from teammate Kadeem Goulborne. Thomas admits he still doesn't know too much about SMU but is extremely interested.

"I haven't done much research since I picked up the offer because I was supposed to visit, but I am definitely interested," Thomas said. "They have great academics so that's something I'm going to look at. That comes first. And the city of Dallas has great opportunities."

Although Thomas was unable to make the trip to SMU, defensive backs coach Derrick Odum flew to Florida to meet with him last week.

"He was really laid back and cool. He said that I could come into their program and that I could really help it get tuned around," Thomas said. "He said I'm taller and bigger than he expected and that the defense they run fits me perfectly. He said I could really dominate as an outside linebacker."

Thomas is listed at 6-foot-2, 220-pounds and is focused on improving his speed this offseason. Along with SMU, West Virginia has extended a scholarship and schools like Arkansas, North Carolina and Vanderbilt are starting to show more and more interest.

Thomas hopes to make it to SMU's junior day in the spring and hopes more prospects from his home state will join him.

"Coach Odum said they were starting too look at more kids from here. If more Florida kids go down to SMU, it would be really cool," Thomas said. "We're different than Texas kids so we'll all get along. It's just cool that SMU is recruiting more down here."

Coach Speak: Hal Wasson on Evan Brown

By Scott Sanford

SMU's offensive line was a thin group this season, but the program will see an influx of offensive linemen joining the team in 2014.

One of those lineman, who could see playing time even in his first year on the Hilltop, is 6-foot-3, 290-pound Southlake Carroll guard Evan Brown.

The Mustangs have struggled to find a capable offensive guard to pair with center Taylor Lasecki, but according to Brown's coach Hal Wasson, Brown has the talent possibly fill that void.

"They're getting a very strong, physical and talented offensive lineman," Wasson said. "He also plays will a great center of gravity and great technique. We moved him to center this year because of some team needs, and he was a very dominant play there for us."

Brown, who played offensive guard his junior year, will arrive on the Hilltop expecting to contribute as a guard, but having a versatile player who can play center as well will bode well for the Mustangs.

Every high school football player faces some sort of transition to the collegiate game, but in Brown's case, his transition may be shorter than others.

"He's ready," Wasson said. "Obviously just understanding the speed of the game at that level will be a little bit of an adjustment for him, but there's no doubt in my mind he will climb the depth chart quickly and be a great player for the Mustangs."

Like a majority of the Mustangs' commits, Brown was also a leader in the weight room and on the field for his team. Brown not only captained the Dragons to an 11-2 season that ended with a heart-breaking 42-38 loss to Trinity in the state playoffs, but he was also awarded first team all-state honors.

According to Wasson, Brown's commitment to SMU is solid. Brown also holds offers from Penn, Tulsa and Yale.

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