The Hilltop Review

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Ervin ‘Big E' Davis Talks Keith Frazier, SMU, Jalen Jones

By Adam Grosbard

Since Dallas Mustangs coach Tony Johnson was critical of Larry Brown's use of freshman Keith Frazier last week, there has been a lot of talk about Frazier's role on the team and whether or not he has been underutilized this season.

While there may be some who question Brown, don't count Ervin ‘Big E' Davis, coach of Dallas Showtyme, and the handler of Frazier's recruitment last season, among them.

"Of course anytime you have a kid of Keith's talent, we'd all love to see him play as much as possible. I talk to Keith every day so I know that he's still balling and he's still learning a lot there about the college game. Once he gets it all together, there's no way you're going to keep him off the court," Davis said. "I hope to see him continue to grow.

"Keith's been one of the best people ever since he's been playing but college is a whole different level, a whole different speed, so he's learning and he's getting better and better every day but at the same token, once he gets it, there's going to be no keeping Keith Frazier off the court. So I wouldn't say I'm disappointed but I'm looking forward to seeing more from him."

In their conversations, Davis and Frazier have focused on the youngster's defense as an area in need of improvement.

"Me and Keith talk all the time. There's nothing Keith can't do offensively, but he's really trying to get all the schemes down defensively," Davis said. "A lot of time spent in the film room, watching himself more, figuring out where he's making little mistakes defensively.

"He wants to get better. He wants to be on the court, so he's trying to do the things to do that. He's one of the first guys in that locker room looking at film and trying to improve on it. That's what I tell him to improve on, to just be a student of the game. Keep going in there, keep asking questions, and his talent level will get him back on the court."

Davis has spent a lot of time at SMU this season, including the first two games at the new Moody and is impressed with SMU's rise to prominence.

"It's great. Great atmosphere, great place to watch a game, and I think it's going to be big for the program," Davis said. "I'm excited about it. I always saw SMU as a sleeping giant. It was just about putting the right team in place to be successful. They got the right coach, the right players, and more than anything they really put the money into it to become a big-time type college. From the facility to the way they treat their guys, everything is on the up-swing. I'm excited to see it."

Davis believes this improvement and investment will pay off for SMU on the recruiting level, including with a couple of his own players.

"All kids want the opportunity to play at the highest level, to play in a place that represents a big-time atmosphere, and to be on TV. Now SMU offers that and they never offered it before. I believe that any kid that wants to be successful at least has to take a look at it," Davis said. "There's a couple of guys from 2015 on my team that they are definitely taking a look at, Ryan Bradley and Andrew Dotson.

"I don't know too many kids around Dallas that aren't at least looking at SMU. I mean, when Keith Frazier decides to go, kids go like, ‘Okay, he went there.' Keith Frazier decides to go to your school, everybody is like damn. And it makes it a signature school now. I think SMU is on to something special."

But Frazier wasn't the first of Davis's players to go to SMU. Before him, there was Jalen Jones, who recently transferred from the Hilltop to Texas A&M.

"I was with him every step of the way as he made his move to his next destination. Jalen's going to be fine," Davis said. "He's going to a good ball club. At the same time, he could have had a big impact (at SMU) but everything works itself out for everybody. It was a situation where a move just felt right.

"Jalen was trying to play 30-35 minutes a game, but that wasn't going to happen and he wanted a situation where he was only going to play the three spot. He wanted to use his talents to better his abilities. Sometimes it happens where you think you're better or you deserve to play more and the coach don't see it the same way."

More On Possible Transfers

By Scott Sanford

Over the course of this season, it became apparent that two of SMU's thinnest positions were offensive line and quarterback.

It now appears that those two positions could become even more depleted.

According to two different sources, quarterback Conner Preston has had discussions about transferring and brothers Sam and Tanner Rice have already decided that they will transfer.

Preston, who is heading into his sixth semester on the Hilltop, was not on the same page as the coaching staff when it came to truly determining his health. Because June Jones and the staff did not think Preston was healthy this year, the quarterback did not practice all year. The California native, however, did not feel that was the right decision.

According to a source close to Preston, after multiple J-Term and summer school sessions, he is close to graduating and would considering transferring if he could find a program that he could start for right away.

The source went on to say that Preston just wants to play, and he hates the fact that he is buried on the depth chart now. The quarterback also believes that he has the ability to be a starter so if he were to be given that opportunity at another program, he would ‘definitely consider it.'

Although Preston has not had any contact with other schools recently, he did receive offers from Cincinnati, Nevada, San Diego State, among others, and it remains to be seen whether any of those schools are still interest in the under-sized quarterback.

As for the Rice brothers, according to a different source, both brothers have struggled with off-the-field issues. Sam has been involved in "two or three" while on the Hilltop and his brother, Tanner, has also been involved in one.

Because of their conduct, they are now in June Jones' dog house and will likely never see the playing field again, according to the source.

The source elaborated some and said that while Tanner is set on transferring to Oklahoma, Sam has not decided where he wants to go, but they're both "definitely" gone. Sam believes that he still has a shot at making it to the NFL, so he wants to make sure wherever he transfers, he'll be able to play right away.

While Preston and Tanner Rice did not see any playing time this season, Sam started at guard for six games before being benched.

Triple A Academy Coach Talks 5-Star SG

By Adam Grosbard

At SMU's opener at Moody Coliseum last week, there was a lot of recruiting royalty in the building. One of these big name recruits was King McClure, a five-star shooting guard from Dallas.

Triple A Academy head coach Time Singleton was extremely positive about SMU's chances to win McClure's services after he graduates in 2015.

"He has interest in SMU. I feel I can pretty much say this right now. He loves to be local," Singleton said. "He wants to stay close to his family."

This may be Singleton's first year as McClure's high school coach, but Singleton is also the Triple A Academy athletic director so he has seen McClure develop through high school.

Singleton also coached McClure when he was young and has a great relationship with McClure and his father, who is the founder of the charter school. This means that Singleton understands McClure well on a personal and basketball level.

"He's an aggressive player, very skilled and talented, a combo-guard. He can score from every angle of the court, inside, outside, three pointers, and he has a college-made body already," Singleton said of the 6-foot-3, 200-pound McClure. "(He's grown) in terms of his maturity, mainly on the mental side.

"He's always been a hard worker to work on his game but mentally he has taken a stronger approach and I think him getting hurt last year has made him mentally tough as far as different thing he has to do on the court as well as using his physical talents on the side."

All this is not to mean that McClure is a one-dimensional player, only capable of scoring the ball. Singleton was also complimentary of the SMU recruit's defense while noting there was room for the young player to improve.

"His defense, he's like any other kid, they all need to work on defense. Mainly working off the ball, weak side rotation, he needs to be getting quicker," Singleton said. "He's a pretty good on the ball defender but just making sure he understands the concepts and just staying consistent is the next step."

SMU has been making a strong push for McClure. Assistant Ulric Maligi is his primary recruiter. Maligi has made the short drive to Triple A Academy a few times this season to watch McClure play.

Singleton thinks McClure could make his decision early in the process, much like Emmanuel Mudiay.

"I think that he probably will make his decision probably after the summer of his junior, maybe before his senior year," Singleton said.

Brown, Turner Visit 2015 PG

By Omar Majzoub

Earlier this season, SMU coaches Larry Brown and K.T. Turner traveled to Kansas City to watch and offer class of 2015 point guard Jimmy Whitt. At 6-foot-2 and 165 pounds, Whitt is a four-star combo guard and one of the best players in his state.

Just a couple of weeks ago, they were back on the trail watching him again.

Whitt is a member of the KC Run GMC in AAU, but attends Columbia-Hickman High School where he plays for head coach David Johnson.

Johnson says he has talked with KT Turner regularly and got to meet Larry Brown when the two coaches came to visit. Johnson is very impressed with the work the staff has been doing on the Hilltop.

"They are definitely staying in touch with us," Johnson said. "I got a chance to watch them a few weeks ago. Honestly, words can't describe the basketball knowledge of Coach Brown."

Whitt has about a dozen scholarship offers already and his list is still growing. Johnson named SMU, Arkansas, Colorado, Creighton, Kansas State, Missouri, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, South Florida, and Wichita State as the schools that have shown the most interest.

Johnson believes SMU has a chance to be one of the best programs in the country. He says they have a great combination of talented players and smart coaches.

"The style they play is definitely conducive to Jimmy," Johnson said. "Obviously, playing for a legendary coach who has coached legendary players and won an ABA, NBA, NCAA, and Olympic championship pretty much speaks for itself. He can help any kind of player that plays for that program build their game for the next level."

Johnson says Whitt is one of the most talented players he has ever coached. He also believes he will continue to get stronger and grow his game even more.

"The kid is a tremendous athlete and has a high basketball IQ," Johnson said. "There aren't too many things that he can't do. He's got a great pull-up jumper, he can get to the basket, and he can finish. He is really explosive."

Right now, Whitt has played in just 12 games and has 27 dunks. He also averages about 5.7 steals a game and is shooting 63 percent from the field.

"He is still developing his three-point shot," Johnson said. "He can shoot it, but right now his shooting percentage isn't as good as it can be because I know he can stroke it. He does so many other things well that it's not that great of an emphasis for him right now. It's something he will develop and get better at."

Whitt is also the team's leading scorer, averaging 23 points per game. Hickman is currently ranked No. 1 in the state and No. 19 in the Midwest.

"He has had an outstanding season and done an amazing job," Johnson said. "He has a lot of success in regards to his playing ability. I think he has got the smarts and he's got the work ethic. He just needs to continue to stay hungry and humble. Whoever gets him, I'll tell you what, they are going to see a special kid and special player when they do."

SMU Building Relationship With Washington

By Omar Majzoub

Since landing five-star point guard Emmanuel Mudiay, SMU has started to recruit many other talented players from Prime Prep.

One of their newest targets is Class of 2017 power forward PJ Washington. At 6-foot-7, 200-pounds, Washington is one of the fastest rising prospects in the state.

His father, Paul Washington, is also his AAU coach with Team Celtics. He believes SMU is in the mix for his son because of the great job they have done with in-state recruiting.

"I think whenever you land a top-5 kid, it definitely helps," Washington said. "They were on the list with the Harrison twins who went to Kentucky. They got Keith Frazier. They got Emmanuel Mudiay, so I think a kid like PJ will look at them in 2-3 years. Before it wouldn't have even been an option. That's a big deal for him. Plus, he can stay at home and play in front of his hometown with the people who know him."

Washington has started to build a relationship with the SMU coaching staff over the last year and a half. He was very complimentary of the job Larry Brown and his staff has done so far.

"He is basically putting a new face into SMU basketball," Washington said. "Ever since he has been there he has shown interest in PJ. We went to a couple games and meet with the assistant coaches. We know them all pretty well. They are very genuine and I think if they can get the kids around Texas to stay at home than they will definitely be pretty good."

PJ is still just a freshman, but has shown a lot of promise in his first year at Prime Prep. Although he doesn't get major playing time on such a talented team, Washington is averaging 11 points and seven rebounds per game this year.

"PJ is a stretch-four, but he can play the three and shoot the ball pretty well," Washington said. "He has a nice stroke and he can put it on the floor. He also rebounds well, blocks shots, and finishes strong around the basket. The one thing he needs to work on is being quicker. If you want to play the three, you have to defend the three so he needs to work on his defense on the wing."

Washington plays in an up-and-down system on one of the best teams in the country with teammates like Mudiay and Terrance Ferguson. His father says the young prospect still has a lot of growing to do on and off the court.

"He is developing his skills in-depth," Washington said. "What makes him unique is that he can step out and shoot it. He can take the rebound and go coast to coast, too. Most bigs his size don't shoot threes or midrange that well, so his strength is being able to stretch the defense."

Washington is considered one of the best players in his class. His well-rounded game makes his coach believe he will make a big impact in college.

"I'm looking for mismatches. If he becomes 6-9 or 6-10 than he is mismatch at the four," he said. "If he stays 6-7, than I think he can play the three," Washington said. "He just needs to get quicker. He has a good IQ and he is team player. He is well rounded, so I think that is what is going to serve him well once he gets to the next level."

Cedar Hill Coach Talks Shabazz Dotson, SMU's Rise

By Adam Grosbard

Some would say that it is never too early to start recruiting. Larry Brown seems to be a believer in this philosophy.

One of the youngest players Brown has recruited to date is Cedar Hill eighth grader Shabazz Dotson. While Dotson has yet to start playing his high school ball, his future coach, Tim Thomas, thinks the young player can grow into a big-time prospect.

"I've worked with him at my basketball camps so I know him pretty well. Good kid, can really develop into a special player if he keeps working hard," Thomas said. "Big kid. Very strong for his age. This next summer is going to be important for him and his development. He's got to reach a certain amount of maturity like all the kids. He really wants to be good. He loves playing the game, and he's a pretty tough kid."

While it is far too early for an eighth grader to get into specifics about college choices yet, Thomas has spoken with Dotson about his goals after high school.

"I've talked to him about college, and he just wants to go play college ball at the best place possible for him," Thomas said.

A veteran of the DFW basketball scene, Thomas has been impressed with SMU's rise to prominence this season.

"I think it's great for college basketball in this area. It's great to have a program that everyone can look at and say this could possibly be a top-50 program," Thomas said. "There is not a program in the DFW metroplex area, collegiately, that you can say that about. I think it's fantastic for high school basketball and basketball aficionados like myself."

And Thomas says Brown is getting all the respect he deserves.

"Coach Brown has brought a lot to this area as far as increasing the awareness of basketball," he said. "High school basketball is already really popular and has a lot of success but now there's a collegiate program that kids can say, ‘You know what, I got to stay here.' So I think it's fantastic.

"SMU has everything they need to be a top tier program. They need a couple more years of good recruiting, but they got everything else. A lot of colleges say they want to do this, they want to do that, but they're actually putting in the funding and the backing and the support."

Signing Day Surprise?

By EJ Holland

If there are any signing day surprises, don't expect Terry Ausborne to be one of them.

SMU offered the three-star Tyler John Tyler safety back in the summer, but it appears the Mustangs filled all their defensive back spots in the Class of 2014. Ausborne says he hasn't heard from his recruiter, Bert Hill, in ages and doesn't expect SMU to get back in the mix.

"I haven't talked to him in forever. I can't even remember when. It's been a while," Ausborne said. "I think SMU pretty much stopped recruiting me not too long after they offered me. I don't really think they're interested in me anymore so now I'm just waiting."

Ausborne holds no other FBS offers but holds one from FCS school Grambling State.

"I really like Grambling State. They have a new coaching staff so I'm excited to see what they're all about," Ausborne said. "I haven't visited, but I do want to learn more about them. I think they have a pretty good program so I'm interested in what they have to offer."

This past season, Ausborne recorded 82 tackles and four interceptions and was a second team all-district selection.

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