The Hilltop Review

Come inside for exclusive stories and info on SMU recruiting!

Local AAU Coach Talks Gilder Visit, Frazier Role

By Adam Grosbard

Among the numerous recruits at the inaugural game at Moody Coliseum between SMU and UConn was the highly touted local junior Admon Gilder.

Gilder is a three-star shooting guard from Dallas Madison. He plays his AAU ball for the Dallas Mustangs, and their head coach Tony Johnson accompanied Gilder to the Moody opener.

"I was there with him. He liked it," Johnson said. "I mean, he don't have no choice but to like SMU because it's right around the corner from his house. I think SMU has a very good chance of getting him because I don't think he wants to leave the state. I thought (the atmosphere) was pretty great, and I'm pretty sure he liked it too. I mean, it was the first time we've heard it that loud so that makes the school pretty dangerous."

Gilder has been making a lot of noise himself this season, averaging close to 30 points per game, which has earned him offers from SMU, TCU, Texas, Vanderbilt, Baylor and Arkansas and interest from Arizona and USC.

Such scoring numbers could draw comparisons between Gilder and another impressive scoring two at SMU, Keith Frazier, but Johnson was resistant to the comparison.

"You can't put Admon in that category with Keith Frazier," Johnson said. "Right now, I think he's a better player coming out of high school than Keith Frazier. He can do a lot more than Frazier could do (like) play the point."

If anyone is the expert on these two players it is Johnson as he was a mentor of Frazier's in high school. Johnson has attended an SMU practice this year and the UConn game and thus far is disappointed with how SMU has utilized his former player.

"They got to do something with Frazier though. Frazier doesn't have a role right now," Johnson said. "They got to get kids from the Dallas/Fort Worth area and those kids have got to be successful. If those kids go to that school and they aren't successful, that's going to be a loss for SMU. Those kids have got to be successful. You have to take care of your kids and regardless of if the school's in your city, you got to do right by the kids."

Local AAU Coach Talks SMU, 2015 Prospects

By Scott Sanford

Some of Texas' most talented basketball recruits flocked to SMU's campus last Saturday to take in the reopening of Moody Coliseum and witnessed the Mustangs' first victory over a ranked opponent in 10 years.

Elijah Thomas and Matthew McQuaid, Team Texas Elite teammates and members of the 2015 class, were two of the many high school prospects that got to take part in the festivities.

Thomas is in his first year at Lancaster after transferring from Prime Prep and McQuaid is at Duncanville. Transferring can be tough on players at times, but Thomas hasn't missed a beat according to his AAU coach Wes Grandstaff.

"I think he's adjusting well," Grandstaff said. "It's always tough at first trying to play with new teammates but they're figuring it out. They just won the Coca-Cola Tournament and Elijah dropped 31 just on Tuesday so he's been playing great."

Grandstaff spoke with Thomas following his visit to SMU last week and the center was happy with what he saw.

"He said it was awesome," Grandstaff said. "He loved seeing the fans their to support SMU and he thought it was a great visit."

Since Grandstaff started coaching the 6-foot-9, 230-pound junior, he has been most impressed with Thomas' ability to maneuver around the hoop and finish with either hand, but Thomas has been developing other parts of his game this season.

"He's been working on that 15-foot to three-point shot for a while," Grandstaff said, "But he's finally starting to hit it on a consistent basis and that will make him even more dangerous."

For Thomas' teammate, McQuaid, his shooting ability is no doubt his strong suit.

"Matt has always been known just as a shooter," Grandstaff explained. "He's having to learn this season how to handle the ball more, to be a point guard at times and to just do more things this season.

Grandstaff has yet to talk with the younger McQuaid about his visit to SMU, but he has had contact with Matthew's father who was at SMU with his son.

"His dad said that it was incredible," Grandstaff explained. "He said they're definitely going to go to more games. They were really impressed by the fans and the atmosphere that came along with the new Moody Coliseum."

For Thomas, McQuaid and the other visiting high school players, it was their first real glimpse of how far SMU has come under Larry Brown.

Grandstaff believes that the Mustangs' victory over UConn was a quality win against a big-time program, and not many people expected to see this type of turnaround this fast, but the Mustangs need to do a little more to become major contenders on the AAU circuit.

"I definitely think the win was a step in the right direction and the more games they win, the more heads they will turn," Grandstaff said. "Once they make the tournament, which I think they have a chance to do this year, at that point people will take them a lot more serious then ever before."

While winning games is one corner stone to beating out the likes of Kansas, Memphis and Duke for top recruits, having a top-notch coaching staff is just as important and Grandstaff knows the Mustangs have that.

"I think Larry Brown deserves a lot of the credit for the turnaround the program has put together, but a good chief is only as good as his Indians," Grandstaff said. "He (Brown) has assembled an incredible staff that isn't complacent and gets out there to recruit. That is what's making the biggest difference."

Pro Skills coach talks CJ Roberts

By Omar Majzoub

It seems like every day there is a new name added to the list of talented young players the SMU basketball staff is recruiting locally. One of the newest targets is class of 2017 point guard C.J. Roberts of North Richland Hills.

Roberts is a 5-foot-11, 160 pounder who transferred to from Triple A Academy. He also had a recent change in AAU teams, going from Pro Skills Elite to the Mo Williams Academy Elite.

But Roberts' old coach with Pro Skills, Eric Clark, remains in constant contact with his old point guard and serves as a mentor. Clark says the two discuss recruiting sometimes and SMU's name has come up recently.

"Man, I'm going to tell you Coach (Larry) Brown is one of the best coaches," Clark said. "That would be a good place for CJ. It's a really good place. It's not my choice, but that is a legendary coach. For him to be looking at you, you have to be doing something right."

Roberts is still just a freshman, so he hasn't focused much on recruiting yet. Right now, he is just working on improving his game and becoming a better floor general.

"One of his main strengths is that he can play multiple positions," Clark said. "Right now, he is playing the point guard position, but he is a real good slasher too. He can play the one or the two. He is definitely a combo guard."

Roberts biggest strength is ability to score from anywhere on the floor. He is a good athlete who can really shoot the ball, but he also has great court vision and passing skills.

"He can handle the ball and he has a real quick shot," Clark said. "He will be coming down the court and stop on a dime for a pull-up. He is also a good defensive player. He's got great upside."

Clark said it's hard to find any weaknesses in Roberts' game. The one thing he did say he needed to do, like most high school guards, is get a little bit stronger.

"CJ is a very good player," Clark said. "Since he is in high school, he is going to start really hitting the weights and that's one thing that will really benefit him. But he has a high basketball IQ and everything, so I think he will be okay."

Clark says he hasn't built a strong relationship with the SMU coaching staff yet, but believes it's only a matter of time. For now, he says the staff is doing the right thing by recruiting a player like Roberts.

"CJ should be getting a lot of attention," Clark said. "He can do it all on the basketball court. Plus, he is a real good kid so I think he is definitely going to make it."

2016 Stud Watches SMU game

By Omar Majzoub

2016 shooting guard Jakolby Long was one of the most talented players that visited Moody this past weekend to watch SMU upset UConn.

Long is a 6-foot-4, 185 pounder from Mustang (OK). Many consider Long the best player from his state in the Class of 2016.

Long plays his AAU ball for Athletes First and head coach Gary Vick. Vick says he hasn't had a chance to speak with Long about his SMU visit yet but believes the Mustangs have a good chance to land him.

"I think obviously Coach Brown is a plus. There is no question about that," Vick said. "There is probably not any better coach that I have ever heard of or seen. That stands without reason. It's situated in Dallas, so I follow some of their scores. They are holding their own this year and doing quite well."

Vick recalled when SMU was considered a top program back in the John Shumate days. He says Coach Brown and his staff has done a good job getting the program back on top.

"Obviously at SMU, the stakes are a little bit higher," Vick said. "They are recruiting McDonalds All-Americans, so for Jakolby to be in that conversation as a player, he will need to continue to work on his skills."

Long is a terrific scorer who uses his length and athleticism to attack the rim. He does a great job of finishing through contact and has started to develop a much better perimeter game.

"His biggest strength would probably be his athleticism. He is a very defined athlete," Vick said. "He is really strong and has good basics. He is about 6-foot-4, so he is developing his guard skills at the point guard position as well. We are hoping that a good year in EYBL this year will make him even that much tougher and stronger."

Long already has offers from Oklahoma and Wichita State, and his recruiting is expected to really pick up soon. Vick says Long plays better when he is just focused on basketball and not football.

"He is on a pretty talented high school team," Vick said. "He also plays football, so he got a little bit of a late start. That happens with dual-sport kids. I think as he rolls into the playoffs in our state, he should be fine and play well."

Vick, who also coaches 2015 stars Allonzo Trier and Shake Milton, says he hasn't talked to the SMU coaches, but that isn't because they haven't tried to contact him. The coach admitted he missed calls from Larry Brown's staff and hasn't had a chance to return them.

"They are doing a great job, I've just been busy," Vick said. "Jakolby went to check them out, so he obviously has interest in them."

Vick says his job isn't to decide where Long should play in college, but to have him prepared for anything and everything. Vick believes it is crucial for Long to develop every aspect of his game before going to college.

"He has the athleticism, it's obvious when you see him, but that has to equate into ball handling skills, shooting skills, and everything else," Vick said. "In order to compete and get to a major college, we tell most kids they need to have all those things and be ready when you step on campus."

Larry Brown Visits Chicago Teammates

By Adam Grosbard

As SMU basketball has ascended this year, Larry Brown has been praised for many things. One thing people do not think to talk about is Brown's ability to multitask.

On the team's trip to Chicago to play UIC, Brown again proved this is one of his most valuable skills when he took time out of his game preparation to visit three-star power forward Edward Morrow and 2016 shooting guard Zach Norvell at Simeon.

Unfortunately, Simeon coach Robert Smith says Brown did not have enough time to see the duo in game action. He did, however, leave a lasting impression.

"He didn't get a chance to see them play, actually, but he just came in to talk to them and let them know he was still interested in them," Smith said. "He just wanted to come in because he hasn't gotten a chance to see them in a while. But basically he really talked to me more than anything."

Smith thinks that SMU's previous success in Chicago recruiting will them in their pursuit of his players.

"With there being three guys from Chicago there already, and with Zach having played in the same AAU program (Mac Irvin Fire) with two of them (Sterling Brown and Crandall Head), I think they're pretty interested in it," Smith said. "Especially with Edward, he's really bright and he's a junior so he's looking all over the place. And with Zach, he's a sophomore so he's just really getting adjusted to the process."

Though he's still young, Smith has been impressed with Norvell's play this year, especially after the youngster switched positions.

"Zach is really a natural two-guard, 6-3 or 6-4 and can shoot the ball really well with a pretty good handle. We actually moved him over to the point guard position this year so he's doing really good with that," Smith said. "Not as good as we thought at the time because it's a new position, and he's used to scoring the ball. When we move him off the ball is when he's at his best, that two spot.

"He can really, really shoot it. (We moved him to point guard) because of his vision. He can see the court really well but when you have that knack for scoring, you're going to score the ball."

As for Morrow, Smith described the 6-foot-6 power forward as a complete player.

"Athletic, wing, got a really, really high motor, rebound at a high rate, perimeter shot is really good. Not from the three yet but his midrange is really good," Smith said. "And he's got an ability to score inside. Edward can block a lot of shots and guard whoever. Our defense switches on screens and Edward can defend the small guys and the big guys as well."

Smith still sees room for his players to grow, however.

"Zach can be a little bit more consistent," Smith said. "And with Edward, his ball-handling, which is something that he comes in and works on every day but just needs to continue to work on it."

Ehambe Updates Recruitment

By EJ Holland

Prime Prep outside linebacker Josh Ehambe has recently turned into a hot commodity, picking up offers from Kansas and Washington State.

Ehambe, a two-star prospect, says both schools immediately became favorites because they are in power conferences. Ehambe plans on making official visits to both schools this month.

"I really like both schools. I can't wait to visit them," Ehambe said. "Playing in the Big 12 or the Pac-12 would be great because of the exposure. They are both great opportunities, and I'm excited."

With National Signing Day just around the corner, Ehambe has begun to narrow down his list of schools. SMU was the first to extend an offer back in the spring and his cousin, Emmanuel Mudiay, signed with the Ponies for basketball. So it seems SMU would be a no brainer.

But Ehambe has not heard from the coaching staff in months and does not have SMU on his short list.

"I haven't talked to Coach (Jason) Phillips in forever. I haven't heard from him since I don't know how long so I'm not really considering SMU," Ehambe said. "Even if he did contact me again, it's been too long, and I have these other schools that want me so I don't think I would be interested anymore."

Colorado State, Louisiana Tech and New Mexico State joined Kansas and Washington State in his top five.

Houston Lamar Coach Talks Colbert, Hyder

By Scott Sanford

With all of its talent, the SMU coaching staff has worked hard to establish a close connection with the Houston Lamar football program. This year, four Redskins are set to sign with the Mustangs come signing day in February.

Redskins' center Braylon Hyder and quarterback Darrell Colbert are two of those players expected to sign with SMU and their coach Tom Nolen believes that SMU community will be happy with what they're getting.

While Hyder's and Colbert's senior seasons were cut short due to a loss against Pearland in the state playoffs, Nolen was proud of how the two developed not only as players, but also as leaders throughout the season.

According to Nolen, Colbert, who has been the Redskins' quarterback since his sophomore year, has come a long way over the past three seasons.

"This season, it got to the point where we won has he (Colbert) won," Nolen said. "He's a real playmaker who loves football and he played really well for us this year. He lives for football and he's a great leader so that rubbed off on the rest of his teammates over the course of the year."

Hyder was also considered a leader by his coaches and peers on the Houston Lamar squad, but he had his own way of leading.

"Braylon wasn't as vocal as Darrell, but he was definitely one of our team leaders," Nolen explained. "He always worked hard in the gym and always put in the effort, which is partially why he was our center for two years. The younger guys noticed his work ethic in a big way."

Nolen believes that while most players can find something to improve on about their game, for Hyder and Colbert, it's just about getting to SMU and learning what they expect out of them.

"I just think he (Colbert) needs to get to campus and learn what Coach Jones wants him to do," Nolen said. "He should fit right in with that team and their system."

As for Hyder, Nolen believes the already 280-pound center needs to add a few more pounds before being a contributor.

"Braylon works really hard and is going to be a good football player, he just needs to get in the gym and get a little bit bigger before he can tussle with the Division one defensive tackles," Nolen said. "He's a good athlete, moves around well and is real coachable so he'll be a good one for SMU."

Q&A with CBS Sports analyst Steve Lappas

By EJ Holland

EJ: It's a battle of Hall of Fame coaches, should be a good one, right?

SL: Should be a good one. There's only five active Hall of Fame coaches, and we have two of them in this game so I think it's a pretty big thing.

EJ: Louisville is coming off a national title but hasn't picked up that signature win yet this season and lost to Memphis at home a few days ago. Just how good is this Louisville team?

SL: This is not the same team. They lose Peyton Siva, they lose Gorgui Deng, they lose Chane Behanan now-- three guys who were very instrumental in winning the title so it's a completely different team. I think Rick Pitino has talked about that, and he's absolutely right. I'm not saying this team can't win the title but if they do it, it's going to be in a different way than they did last year because it's a different team.

EJ: Can you go more into Louisville's strengths and weaknesses this year?

SL: I think the three guards are a strength. Now, they're a little small. Russ Smith, Chris Jones and Terry Rozier. They're all good. Russ Smith is a tremendous player who got the experience of winning the title last year, but they're a little small. But I think that's really the strength of the team, the backcourt. I think Montrezl Harrell, I think people thought he would take a bigger step this year, and he really hasn't. I think that's a big reason why this team hasn't played up to what Rick would like to see them play as. They've gotten hurt inside a little bit. They haven't defensive rebounded great, and I think a lot of that falls on Harrell. A little more consistency is needed in the frontcourt.

EJ: After beating UConn, do you think SMU is for real? Do they have a chance at making the NCAA tournament this year?

SL: I really do. They play really good defense, and they're very well-coached and disciplined under Larry. I saw them down in Corpus Christi when I called they're games there so I've seen them three times this year, and I've been really impressed. I think Keith Frazier is going to be the key for them. I understand what Larry is doing bringing him off the bench and easing him into the college game. But he's a scorer, and besides Nic Moore, SMU doesn't really have many of those. If Frazier can reach his potential late in the season, I think they can not only make the tournament but be a dangerous threat.

To read my full interview with Lappas, head over to and check the colleges blog at 2 p.m.

Pony Stampede Top Stories