The Hilltop Review

Come inside for this week's Hilltop Review where we recap the latest news in SMU's recruiting world!

Mitchell Keeps SMU in Top Four

By: Patrick Engel

Many Class of 2015 basketball players are narrowing their lists of schools, Rockdale High School (Tex.) guard Wendell Mitchell is among them, SMU offered Mitchell in July, and the Mustangs made the cut, along with Kansas State, Texas Tech, Baylor and Auburn.

“I got my (SMU) offer after the last live period,” Mitchell, who played for the AAU Houston Defenders, said. “It was after the Atlanta tournament.”

SMU coach Ulric Maligi watched Mitchell at the Under Armour Finals in Atlanta and at the Fab 48 in Las Vegas. Mitchell says he has talked on the phone with Maligi regularly since July, and he also talked with Larry Brown this week.

“Coach Brown is a legendary coach. He’s coached some of the best guards in the NBA and in college, so that’s a big plus,” Mitchell said. “[Coach Maligi] seems like a great man, and we’re building a relationship now.”

Since Mitchell is from Texas, he first heard of SMU a while ago, but his interest piqued when Emmanuel Mudiay committed last August.

“I’ve known about SMU for a few years, but I really heard about them when they got Emmanuel Mudiay to commit,” Mitchell said. “That’s when they really started being talked about.”

Even though Mudiay is no longer coming to SMU, Mitchell said he is still interested in the school. He says that staying in Texas is not a priority, but he would enjoy it.

“It’s not that important, but it would be nice to find somewhere that I fit in Texas to stay close to family,” said Mitchell. “It’s not a big thing, but it would be nice to have it.”

Mitchell included two other Texas schools in his top five, so SMU does not have the advantage of being the only school that can keep him reasonably close to home. The Mustangs will have plenty of completion for Mitchell, as the 6-foot-2, 180-pounder says that he is regularly talking to with all five of his finalists.

Mitchell is a combo guard, but his primary position is point guard, and he says that he builds his game around his team.

“I like to build my game around my teammates, just making my teammates better and helping them achieve some of the things they’ve achieved” he said. “[I want to] be a complete player, passing, shooting, and all-around game.”

Mitchell finished his AAU career on a high note, he says:

“I had a really great time in AAU. This is my first year playing with the Defenders, and I’ve only played two real years of AAU basketball. This year was a really good year because I got on the national Under Amour circuit. Coach Harrison (who is the father of Kentucky guards Andrew and Aaron Harrison) and the assistants got me recognized and got me noticed.”

Odomes getting SMU interest

By: Scott Sanford

On Tuesday, four-star point guard Jimmy Whitt, one of SMU’s top targets for the 2015 class, committed to Arkansas, leaving the Mustangs with one less option at guard.

While the Mustangs are still in the running for guards like Admon Gilder, Wendell Mitchell, Bryant Crawford and Chad Lott among others, SMU has started to look for backup plans.

2015 Copperas Cove (TX) shooting guard Rashard Odomes, teammate of four-star SMU prospect Jordan Murphy, could turn out to be another option for the Mustangs.

The 6-foot-7, 180-pound three-star rising senior has started to gain momentum after an impressive showing at the Adidas Gauntlet, and could start to hear more from the Mustangs in the near future.

Odomes has not heard directly from the SMU coaching staff, but they have been in touch with his AAU coach recently.

“My coach actually heard from them last summer some,” Odomes said. “But they were really on and off so I didn’t hear from them too much. Now, I guess they talked to my AAU coach again but they haven’t reached out and contacted me yet.”

While there are a lot of players, including Odomes, who haven’t heard much about SMU as a school, they all know about Larry Brown.

“Larry Brown, I mean I know he has a lot of experience,” Odomes said. “He has coached at the NBA level for a while so he’s going to know how to get players to that next level.”

Odomes’ AAU coach said the SMU coaching staff called to check up on him, and that they would likely be getting in touch with him soon.

Odomes holds offers from Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Marquette, Creighton and Baylor among others.

Bacon Far From a Decision

By: Billy Embody

2015 4-star SG Dwayne Bacon has had a huge summer and his recruitment has blown up because of it. Bacon recently named his top 10 schools and kept Larry Brown and SMU in it for his services.

“It was just who ever was hitting me the most,” Bacon said via text. “No I'm listening to everyone and taking everything in.”

The Lakeland Oak Hill Academy (Fla.) star kept Georgia Tech, UNLV, Georgetown, Tennessee, Auburn, USC, Oklahoma State, Florida State and USF in his top 10 as well.

As for official visits, Bacon will visit FSU on September 5 and Tennessee the day before on October 4.

Bacon isn’t sure if he will visit SMU, but the Mustangs have made a strong impression on the 6-6, 190 pound guard from his talks with Larry Brown and assistant coach Ulric Maligi.

“Coach brown is a great guy,” Bacon said. “It would be great if that happens being coach by coach Brown.”

Bacon says he enjoys the way coach Brown is straight up with him and would enjoy being a part of a building process at SMU.

The two in-state schools, FSU and USF are in it and Bacon is considered an SMU lean. Being able to play in his home state is the biggest draw for Bacon with those schools.

While Bacon is far away from a decision, he says he’ll commit when his parents think is best and that it’s very important that his parents are with him on where he decides to go.

Bacon recently put on an impressive performance at the Reebok at Rucker Park Classic, getting to play with SMU targets Admon Gilder and Elijah Thomas as well. NBA legend Shaquille O’ Neal also took in Bacon’s game.

“It was great all the legends play there so I loved it,” Bacon said. “It was great because he was saying I could score anywhere and I could.”

“It was a great summer and my game has gotten better all around,” Bacon said. “Just being able to be around all the top players and compete.”

Even with Bacon’s length, he feels he’s best suited to be a shooting guard at the next level because that’s where he’s the best all-around player he can be.

Bacon is looking to continue to improve his scoring while securing a high school state championship during his senior year.

Badgley Hearing from SMU

By: Billy Embody

SMU has starting reaching out to the class of 2017 and specifically in the DFW area early. That means getting out in front on the recruitment of Arlington power forward Landon Badgley.

“They’ve just told me that they’re really interested in me and they want to see me keep growing,” Badgley said.

The interest is mutual with Badgley and SMU as well.

“I’m very interested in them,” “It means it’s very convenient to see my family and see games if I do go there. Not too far from home.”

UCLA, New Mexico, Wake Forest, Kansas State, Houston, Lamar and Arizona are starting to show early interest in Badgley.

While playing for Family First Under-16 on the AAU circuit, Badgley has been working to recover from ankle surgery in May.

Badgley is a skilled face-up big man and plays with energy out on the court, but adding size to his frame is where he's working the hardest at.

“Definitely getting stronger, finishing better around the bucket, working on my ball handling, staying low and working on my defense," Badgley said.

Badgley doesn't have any offers, but if SMU offered it'd be a huge deal because of SMU head coach Larry Brown.

“With Larry Brown, the fact that he’s a former NBA coach and the players he’s coached and where he’s coached,” Badgley said. “Just winning and teaching me how to win.”

UCLA and Kansas State and SMU are standing out early. Badgley wants a program that can help him be the best player he can be while playing to his style's strengths. “Just a program that would be good for my style of play and if it’d fit real good for me.”

Darius Joseph Q&A

By: Demetrio Teniente

Q: How do you think camp has gone for you so far?
DJ: Not too bad. You know, a whole lot of good things going on and not just myself, but the receiving corp as a whole, we look better than we did last year.

Q: Can you give me your thoughts on some of the younger receivers?
DJ: There are a lot of them that have a chance to get a lot of playing time or be starters- like Cedric Lancaster and Deijuan Stewart. [Stewart] has made huge strides- you know he got caught up just trying to make it through camp and he stepped up and did some things right. Nate Halverson did a great job filling in when I went down. But everyone has stepped up their game, everybody.

Q: What has been the biggest challenge the offense has already overcome during camp?
DJ: We are young. There are a lot of young guys on our offensive line and we got to work harder for the young guys trying back us up. It’s like, getting the young guys caught up to speed and trying to get everybody on the same level- that way if somebody goes out there is no digression.

Q: Has working with the younger guys helped you work on your own game?
DJ: Oh, definitely. It helped me like mental reps- I’m telling them something and at the same time its sticking in my brain. So yeah, it’s helped a lot for me.

Q: Who have you seen on defense that could be a big playmaker for the team?
DJ: The linebackers are ridiculous. Robert Seals, Stephon Sanders, Jonathan Yenga are great guys. And then Horace Richardson is so fast and is going to be a great DB this year at right corner.

Q: What has been the biggest difference that you have seen in Kevin Pope this year, so far?
DJ: Kevin Pope is the kind of guy who doesn’t take any strides back. He’s not the same as he was he’s just 10 times better. He is the kind of guy that if you see any change in his work ethic or ability, it’s just him getting better. He’s come a long way; he looks more fluid and more natural at his position.

Q: What about Stephen Nelson- he’s had a pretty good camp, what are your thoughts on him?
DJ: Oh, well [Nelson], he’s been solid since I got here freshman year and he’s finally got into a position to start and he’s held onto that spot. He moved into slot and had that locked down and now he’s on the outside because he knows all four receiver positions. He is a solid guy and he’s going to do some big things for us this year.

Q: What do you think will be the identity of the offense this season?
DJ: Old school Coach Jones Offense. We did a lot of fast paced, no huddle stuff last year and now we’re getting back to what Coach Jones knows best and that’s his style of offense. Coach Jones will be in the headline of a lot of different stories because we are going to do some big things this year.

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