It's no secret SMU is taking a hard look at prospects that play at Plano West. Four Wolves made the short trip to SMU to watch the Mustangs upset nationally ranked UConn in the first game in renovated Moody Coliseum.
Among them was Avery Johnson Jr., a 2014 point guard. SMU started showing interest in Johnson Jr. a few months ago, just before he made an unofficial visit to a practice in October.
Since then, Johnson Jr. has been in constant communication with the coaching staff and was blown away by the experience at the game last weekend.
"It was a great game. The atmosphere and the environment was better than I envisioned it was going to be," Johnson Jr. said. "It was a lot of fun. I thought Larry Brown coming to SMU made it a legit place to play. They just didn't have the big wins to back that up.
"But the win over UConn really gave them that big win. I think they are going to keep winning with Coach Brown. More and more big time players are going to want to play there like Emmanuel Mudiay. I mean, he's the No. 1 point guard in our class."
It's clear Johnson Jr. understands Brown is building something truly special on the Hilltop. Johnson Jr. said he would love to be a part of it especially if it means getting to play with Tyler Davis and D.J. Hogg.
Although Johnson Jr. is a year older than Davis and Hogg, they have an extremely close relationship. The trio are all part of the Texas Titans AAU program and attend the same high school.
"Getting to go to the game together was a good experience for all of us. We've all talked about some scenarios where we can keep playing together at the next level," Johnson Jr. said. "We're with each other 24/7, and it would be great to find a way to play with them again."
Johnson Jr., who is also receiving interest from Arizona State, Baylor, Texas A&M and Tulsa, is still waiting to pick up his first scholarship offer but says becoming a preferred walk-on at SMU is an option.
Johnson Jr. and SMU assistant coach Ulric Maligi have actually talked about a few scenarios that would allow him to come on board with the Ponies.
"Me and Coach Maligi talk quite a bit. Whether it's redshirting or being a preferred walk-on, we're just on working on different scenarios to see what can happen," Johnson Jr. said. "If DJ and Tyler pick SMU, I definitely want to go there. I'll do whatever it takes. They are for sure one of the schools I'm really interested in. I doubt I would walk-on anywhere else, but you have to look at SMU differently because of Coach Brown."
If Johnson Jr. does land at SMU, you can bet his father, former San Antonio Spurs point guard and Dallas Mavericks coach Avery Johnson Sr., will be a happy man.
"I wasn't even thinking about SMU until my dad got me interested. My dad came to the game too, and he loved the environment," Johnson Jr. said. "He said a lot of top players are going to want to go there because Larry Brown can help them get to the NBA.
"He kept talking about Larry Brown's NBA style and kept insisting to me, Tyler and DJ that SMU is a great spot if we want to play in the NBA or overseas and how Larry Brown can develop our game."
In his first season at Plano West, Johnson Jr. is making a major impact. The 5-foot-11, 182-pounder is averaging 13 points and four assists per game and was named a McDonald's All-American nominee earlier this week.
"With the players we have on our team, I didn't know I was going to have such a big role. I've been playing pretty good defense and facilitating to D.J. and Mickey Mitchell," Johnson Jr. said. "I fell like I'm having a pretty good season. I've become a better all-around player and have helped the team. After we beat Lewisville in triple overtime, I knew we could do something special."
Johnson Jr. Talks SMU Visit
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