When Larry Brown first came to SMU, he targeted Dallas-Fort Worth and Chicago as the first recruiting hotbeds he wanted to conquer.
In no time, Brown established himself in these cities. Sterling Brown and Ben Moore were both Chicago recruits who chose to be a part of Larry Brown's first recruiting class, one rounded out by Dallas-native Keith Frazier. Next fall, Emmanuel Mudiay of Prime Prep Academy will take the Hilltop by storm.
After creating a presence in Dallas and Chicago, Brown's staff has now turned its attention to another area loaded with high school basketball talent-- Southern California.
Last month, SMU assistant coach K.T. Turner flew to Los Angeles and offered three-star point guard Sedrick Barefield, a junior at Corona Centennial.
And last week, Brown and Turner took advantage of an off-day on Wednesday and flew to Los Angeles to watch Barefield's high school squad take on Roosevelt. Barefield felt the visit and game both went very well.
"It was honestly an honor to have (Brown) in the gym. It made me feel great about my hard work," Barefield said. "I think I had 20 points and six assists or something like that."
SMU clearly has serious interest in the 6-foot-1, 185 pound point guard. Although he just received his offer in December, Barefield is in constant contact with the SMU coaching staff, specifically Brown and Turner.
In fact, Turner took time, while on the road after SMU's win over Houston on Sunday, to call Barefield.
"I just got off the phone with K.T. so I'm in contact with them a lot. I know my parents are as well," Barefield said. "It's (about) a variety of things. It could be just talking about anything but often times it is about the school and basketball and just the game period."
Barefield is also serious about the Mustangs. His father Ray, who played college basketball for San Diego State before playing professionally in Europe, has done a lot of research on SMU as a school and Dallas in general. And Barefield likes what the basketball program has to offer.
"I've been watching them a lot this year, and I love what they're doing. I mean, the head coach is Larry Brown so you've got to love that," Barefield said. "A Hall of Fame coach, and he's a winner. I think we have that in common. We both like to win. I want to take a visit so I can do my research like that. I'm trying to get out there as soon as possible. Just getting off the phone with K.T., he said to pick a game and just let them know. I don't have a particular game yet."
Though he lives over a thousand miles away, Barefield has been able to follow the SMU team like never before through its increased exposure on ESPN.
"Seeing them on TV is definitely a great thing. I'm happy for them and with Emmanuel (Mudiay) coming I'm sure that they'll be on TV more next year," Barefield said. "I'm just happy they're coming on the rise and that Larry Brown is doing a great job with them."
Knowing Brown's previous success with traditional point guards like Chauncey Billups and now Nic Moore and soon Mudiay, Barefield thinks he would fit in well at SMU.
"I think it would just take me to the next level," Barefield said. " I mean he's a Hall of Fame coach, and I just know that he can take anybody to the next level if you're just willing to listen to him."
Barefield has been recruited by a number of top programs but a few stand out based on what he wants in a school.
"Besides SMU, I'd have to say FSU, Creighton, Baylor, Florida is in the mix a little bit. They haven't offered but they've been talking to me a little bit. Michigan," Barefield said. "(Some important factors are) the personnel of the whole team, from the coaching staff to the players, whether I'd play right away. I don't want to come in and just ride the bench for a year or two. I want to come in and make an impact and win games. And also education is a big part."
Interestingly, Barefield did not mention any of the California schools or Pac-12 schools that have recruited him. His AAU coach, Etop Udo-Ema of the Compton Magic, explains that there is a good reason for this.
"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."
Barefield's high school, Corona Centennial, is a perennial powerhouse program in the Los Angeles-area. But this year's team has a different makeup than what you expect from that caliber program. Instead of there being a number of core seniors and juniors, Barefield is the elder statesman as a junior on a team of mostly sophomores and freshmen. This has made Barefield step up as a leader for the team.
"More recently, I've taken on a leadership role more than ever. I feel like it starts with me so I definitely have to be the leader on and off the floor for my team, and I think I can take us very far if I continue to do that," Barefield said. "I see myself as a point guard so whatever is needed on the court is what I have to do. Setting the tempo is important coming into the game, especially for my high school team. We have to come out strong and that's a big reason why we played well last Wednesday."
As a junior, Barefield has time to make his final decision, but he says he will pull the trigger as soon as he finds the school that is right for him and his family.
"As soon as I find out what truly in the right fit for me, that's when I'll make a decision. I don't really have a time for it," Barefield said. "Could be next year, could be in the next couple weeks or months. It just depends on the situation and what me and my family choose."
Barefield Talks SMU, Larry Brown Visit
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