It's become expected that Larry Brown and his staff are getting the jump early on recruits and building solid relationships not just in the 2015 and 2016 classes, but even 2017.
St. Frances Academy(Md.) small forward Andre Rafus is one of the top players in his class and has dominated his age group, even playing up with the Baltimore Elite 16and under team instead of on the 15 and under circuit.
His first offer comes from Brown and the Mustangs and Rafus says the Mustangs were extremely impressed with his game.
"I was playing in a tournament and they showed a lot of interest. They liked how I played on both ends of the floor, how I had a motor," Rafus said. "They said I could become a good player so they wanted to pursue me early because they know I'm a good player in the making."
Rafus said he believes it was SMU assistant K.T. Turner, who offered him and Rafus got the chance to talk with the SMU assistant and he couldn't hide his excitement for the offer.
"I always seem him at my tournaments," Rafus said. "I had a conversation, a very good conversation with one of them. I really like SMU, I mean I really would go there."
The 6-7 forward from Baltimore is expecting to play up at the EYBL circuit next summer so he can asses where his game is at. His game though is about defense for him because of his good motor.
"I'm a defender, that's my main thing. I can score at will," Rafus said. "I'm just an overall player really and I can get to the basket well. I just play with a motor and that's what caused SMU to be so interested in me."
Rafus believes Brown, with his contacts at the next level, can help him get to where he wants.
"He's an amazing coach. I saw him at the Charlotte Bobcats. I'd love for him to be my coach," Rafus said. "I know if I was there, I know I'd be in good hands so if I would decide to go there, it'd be because of Larry Brown."
Another reason Rafus is interested in SMU is because of the top talent Brown has brought in and is pursuing, like SMU signee Emmanuel Mudiay.
"Of course, Emmanuel Mudiay is committed there and he's really good," Rafus said. "I watched him play at Boo Williams EYBL in person and I know he's good."
Rafus said he will likely take a page out of Mudiay's book and choose where he is most comfortable, not necessarily the most well-known program.
"I think he choose where he fits at, which is the same thing I'm trying to do. You have to choose a program where you fit," Rafus said. "You have to go somewhere where you have trust and loyalty with the coach, if you don't have trust and loyalty with the coach, you can go anywhere."
Rafus believes fit and trust is why players do or don't transfer at the next level.
"That's how people transfer, I don't want to go through that," Rafus said. "I want to go somewhere I can go and stay there."
Brown's ability to get players to the next level is going to be one of the deciding factors for Rafus, but mainly he wants a coach that will push him to be the best he can be.
"I know that I'm one of the best players in the Class of 2017, but I want to be the best player I can be," Rafus said. "I want a coach that can push me to do that and I know Larry Brown can do that so I'm pretty confident in Larry Brown, but I'm still going to weigh my options."