After missing out on William Lee and Jonah Bolden, SMU is still looking for a combo forward to add to its 2014 class, which includes five-star point guard Emmanuel Mudiay.
The Mustangs have turned their attention to Connors State standout Willie Atwood. Assistant coach Ulric Maligi attended one of Atwood's games last week, and the JUCO prospect did not disappoint. He scored 29 points and notched 11 rebounds in a win over Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College.
"Coach Ulric said he really liked my game. He said he liked that I'm a four with three skills. I can bang in the post, but I have a really good jumper," Atwood said. "He said he thinks I'm a complete player but that I can keep developing under Larry Brown."
Atwood currently holds offers from Auburn and Murray State. It's clear SMU is also interested, but the Mustangs have yet to extend a scholarship. But that doesn't mean one isn't on its way.
"When Coach Ulric came to my game the other night, he said that they wanted to bring Larry Brown out here to see me," Atwood said. "He said it's pretty much a done deal that I get the offer, but Larry Brown has to watch me first. He said that it was going to be soon so I'm pretty excited."
At 6-foot-8, 217-pounds, Atwood feels he can play the three or the four for SMU and make an immediate impact. With Jalen Jones transferring to Texas A&M and Shawn Williams graduating, Atwood will certainly have an opportunity to compete for a starting job.
If SMU does end up offering, Atwood says he would be extremely interested.
"Of course, I would be interested. Who wouldn't want to play for a Hall of Fame coach? He's won NBA and NCAA title. I would just have to listen and learn," Atwood said. "There ain't no one better that could help me get to the NBA. I don't know too much about SMU the school, but I want to visit and learn more."
At Connors State, Atwood is averaging 22.1 points and 8.4 rebounds per game and had two eye-popping performances. Against Independence C.C., he set a school record 49 points, going 33-of-37 from the free throw line. Later in the year, he put up 35 points in a win over Northern Oklahoma.
Atwood played his first three years of high school basketball at Memphis Melrose (TN) before transferring to West Memphis. During that time, Atwood was a 175-pound guard, but he's since gained close to 50 pounds.
"I feel like I'm the best shape I've been in now. Playing at the JUCO level has really helped me with everything," Atwood said. "But I feel my best assets are my motor and the energy I bring on offense. I also feel like I've gotten more physical. I'm having a good season so far, and I was just nominated to be a JUCO All-American."
Atwood is not sure when he plans on making a decision, but it will obviously come later in the spring. He also does not have a list of favorites but is working on narrowing things down and scheduling visits. The only official visit he's taken so far is to Marshall, which means he has four remaining.
"I don't really have a short list right now. But Wichita State, Kansas State, SMU, Oklahoma and Gonzaga are all coming at me really hard," Atwood said. "I'm just going to see what happens with offers and visits before I make my decision. I'm just looking for somewhere I can go in and make an early impact."
Atwood Talks SMU Interest
Pony Stampede Top Stories
The Hilltop Review 4/28Come inside the Pony Stampede Hilltop Review for the latest on SMU football recruiting targets.
Pony Stampede12:30 AM
Watson and Morris' bond bigger than footballClemson's national championship winning quarterback and NFL Draft hopeful Deshaun Watson was recruited by Chad Morris. The two share a bond that is bigger than football.
Pony StampedeYesterday at 6:20 AM
Q&A: SMU WR Kevin Thomas ready to break outPony Stampede spoke with SMU rising junior wide receiver Kevin Thomas, who is ready for a breakout season this fall.
Pony StampedeYesterday at 5:09 AM
Pony Stampede Podcast 4/26Come inside the Pony Stampede Podcast for the latest on SMU hoops recruiting news and a few football storylines.
Pony StampedeWednesday at 6:35 AM