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Crawford, high school coach talk SMU visit

By: Patrick Engel

2015 guard Bryant Crawford visited SMU over Labor Day weekend, and SMU could be taking control in the race for his services. Crawford planned to visit for one day but ended up staying for most of the holiday weekend.

“I think for him it’s a great opportunity and a great experience to be able to put his hands on it,” Crawford’s coach at Gonzaga High School (D.C.), Steve Turner, said. “Never having been to campus and getting to see what the place is really about and having some more opportunity to sit down with Coach Brown and learn more what coach envisions for him as a part of that program.”

Crawford told Pony Stampede via text that he would be a solid fit in SMU’s system and would be got along well with coach Brown.

“I’m good with playing off the pick and roll and playing in transition,” Crawford said. “It was always fun talking with him, we talked a little basketball, about life and told stories. It’s a nice friendly relationship.”

Turner confirmed Crawford enjoyed his time at SMU with player host Jordan Tolbert.

“Everyone was cool and they definitely made me feel welcome,” Crawford said. “It was fun hanging out with the team. It was a good experience and a good visit.”

Crawford is not going to rush into a decision. He is visiting Wake Forest this weekend and Georgetown the following weekend.

“Georgetown, its home, so he knows it a little more about the place, but it’s still an information-seeking time to find out where the best fit for him is when its all said and done, and what place is going to be able to put him in a position to grow as a player,” Turner said. “I know he wants to play beyond college and he certainly wants to be at a place where he can get a great education.”

Indiana, SMU, Georgetown, Memphis, Tennessee, Wake Forest and Marquette are Crawford’s top seven schools. Turner said that all of them have been in regular contact with the 6-foot-1 guard from Washington, D.C.

Turner thinks Crawford had a good junior season and an even better AAU season. Crawford plays AAU for D.C.-based Team Takeover.

“Unfortunately he had to halt for a part of (his junior season) because he got hurt,” Turner said. “But when he came back, he stepped on the court and showed his ability to be a leader. But the part that really went well for him was his spring and summer. I thought he played tremendously this spring and summer, and that’s what allowed for more schools to step up and say ‘this kid can really play.’”

Crawford took a tour around campus, watched individual workouts, but said, “we ate a lot!”

The food stops included Ocean Prime, but Crawford said he enjoyed watching practice the most.

“They all pushed themselves and that everyone does the same thing. There wasn’t no bigs and guards break down.”

Crawford previously told PonyStampede that he will make a decision before his high school season starts. Turner does not think Crawford has a favorite just yet.

“He’s very quite thoughout the process, he’s not one of those kids that gets hung up on every call and every tweet about him. He’s a pretty humble kid, and he just wants to play basketball.”

2016 New York point guard expects to commit to SMU

By: Billy Embody

SMU has been in the hunt for a point guard in the 2016 class, but Kenmore West guard/forward Aaron Tucker may be the first “point forward” that Larry Brown has recruited.

Tucker could be the first commit in 2016 as well for the Mustangs.

“Dallas as a city is a good city and Larry Brown is one of my all-time favorite coaches plus I like his system,” Tucker said. “With my versatility and my defense, I would be a perfect fit in their system.”

Tucker has traded emails with Larry Brown, but assistant coach Ulric Maligi invited Tucker to visit and when he does in March 2015, he’ll pick up an offer and commit.

Tucker said Maligi told him that he, “should be expecting an offer at the end of my season, 100%.”

“When it comes, I will be verbally committing.”

Tucker has watched three or four games of SMU’s this season and likes how he would fit in the Mustangs’ season.

“It’s like a blue collar school with hard work and dedication,” Tucker said. “Basically that I would fit perfect because I’m supposed to grow to be like 6-8 and I have point guard ability so he said I’ll fit perfect with my strengths on the defensive end.”

Tucker expects to grow from 6-4, to 6-8, which is why Brown thinks he could be more of a “point forward” in SMU’s system.

“I’m 6-4, but we have a pretty small team so I actually play center and point guard for my team,” Tucker said. “I can handle the ball and shoot the ball, but I pride myself on the defensive end.”

The SMU basketball team isn’t the only reason why Tucker likes SMU so much.

“Academically, I’m looking for a strong communications school because that’s what I want to major in,” the 6-4, 180-pound guard said. “I want to go into a team that has a good foundation, good coach and good tradition. I want to get in there and mold with the guys really well.”

After averaging over 16 points, seven rebounds, four assists and a block a game for the West New York Elite, Tucker picked up offers from St. Bonaventure and Siena.

“That was where I picked up my two offers was on the AAU circuit working with Donnie Marsh and I actually went to a few of the Hoop Group Elite session camps,” Tucker said. “My post game and my mid-range jump shots got better.”

Tucker said he’s a good rebounder and good passer for his size. His size and defensive ability makes him want to play more of a man system, another reason he fits in SMU’s system.

Tucker’s dad has talked with Larry Brown and is a big fan from Brown’s days as coach of the Detroit Pistons. Tucker’s relationship is solid with Maligi though and the pair keeps in touch a fair amount.

“He asks me about this year and about coming to SMU so I think it’s a really good relationship,” Tucker said.

Tucker’s final reason for wanting to commit is simple.

“I don’t want to have that much pressure on my senior, but mainly it’s coach Brown.”

Tucker would be the first commit of 2016, but also has received interest from Canisius and Buffalo.

Proche talks adjustment to high school, health

By: Scott Sanford

SMU’s basketball recruiting was not the only thing affected by the scandal that hit Deion Sanders’ Prime Prep Academy this summer.

Three-star wide receiver and SMU commit James Proche was also forced to frantically find a new school before the start of the football season.

After announcing he would attend DeSoto High School, Proche ran into another problem. This time, it had to do with his health.

The 6-foot, 185-pound rising senior has been out since the middle of August because of kidney ailments caused by dehydration, but Proche hopes to be back sooner rather than later.

“I feel fine. We’re just waiting on my doctor’s approval, which will probably be next week,” Proche said. “My numbers, as far as my kidneys, are going down, which is a good sign.”

Since spending nearly a week in the hospital for treatments and observations, Proche has spent his time adjusting to life at his new school.

“It’s been an adjustment,” Proche said. “I like it a lot though because I know a lot of kids there and obviously my football teammates make it easier. My teachers are real cool. They’ve really pushed me and I’m on student council so it’s easy making friends.”

Proche has been more than active in the classroom and with extracurriculars, but the wide out has had to watch from the sidelines when it comes to football.

Proche said he knows his new offense now through the mental reps he has taken, but this whole experience has been eye opening to him.

“It really makes you appreciate it (football),” Proche said. “I’ve never been hurt and I’ve never known what it’s like to not have football. But through all of this I’m learning patience and I appreciate it more.”

One thing Proche has noticed from the sideline is the play of his teammates. Most notably 2016 three-star quarterback Tristen Wallace who holds an SMU offer.

“He has been playing amazing, you know, off the charts,” Proche said. “His first start was crazy and he got an offer from Ohio State after, but I’ve known Tristen since we were kids playing basketball together and now he’s a star high school quarterback so it’s crazy.”

Proche has even done some of his own recruiting on Wallace, talking to the duel-threat quarterback non-stop about following in his parents’ footsteps to SMU.

One thing is certain, whether Wallace ends up a Mustangs or not, Proche has no plans to back out of his commitment anytime soon.

Proche plans on attending every SMU home game this fall, and plans to take his official visit later on during basketball season.

When asked if he would take any official visits to other schools, all Proche could say was, “No sir. A commitment’s a commitment.”

Patrick's take on Kaufman in HP's win over Frisco Centennial

By: Patrick Engel

I watched Highland Park (Tex.) OLB and SMU commit Mitchell Kaufman play against Frisco Centennial HS (Tex.) last weekend at the Tom Landry Classic at Ford Stadium. Kaufman is entering his second full season of football after previously playing basketball. Here are some things I took away from his performance:

Positives:

Awareness: Last weekend, Kaufman was around the ball on almost every play. On one play, he was responsible for covering underneath on the weak side. He dropped back and read the quarterback’s eyes, and stepped into the passing lane and deflected a pass that he probably should have intercepted. His knack for getting his hands on passes and jumping routes is outstanding. His ability to do so is also evident in his basketball tape. He does a good job overall of reading the quarterback and he knows exactly when to break for the ball.

Athleticism: Any player who receives an FBS offer after playing just one year is probably a good athlete, and Kaufman is no exception. He has speed and is explosive off the ball. The most impressive thing was his ability to change direction in a split second and make a play. His shot-blockig ability in football translates well to football, as he gets his hands on a lot of passes. He sheds blocks well and rarely overruns plays, and is a solid tackler in the open field.

Versatility: Kaufman lined up at both outside linebacker spots in last Saturday’s game. He also played on punt teams, kickoff teams and even did some punting. Kaufman has the skills to play any linebacker spot, and his athleticism and motor make him a good fit on special teams.

Negatives:

Rawness: Kaufman is good against the run and the pass, but his assignments are simple. Rarely is he asked to do anything other than rush the passer or cover a short underneath route. But that’s because of his lack of experience. As he watches more film and plays in more games, he will be asked to do more.

Hands: He dropped an interception in Saturday’s game, and he also did so a couple times last year. He did a nice job getting his hands on the ball, but he should finish the job. He does a solid job using his hands as a pass rusher to shed blockers, however.

Pass Rush Moves: Kaufman relies on his speed rush, but that is about the only pass rush moves he knows. In SMU’s 3-4 system, outside linebackers frequently go up against offensive tackles. To be a good pass rusher at the next level, Kaufman could use another move, such as a spin move or a bull rush.

Mitchell’s highlight tape: http://www.hudl.com/athlete/2234983/highlights/85504383

Cameron Nwosu Q&A

By: Demetrio Teniente

Crockett talks adjustment to Navarro, summer workouts

By: Andrew Hattersley

After a quiet summer, Navarro cornerback Ray Crockett was notified late in the summer he would not be able to play this year.

“When I transferred from Tulsa, I wish they would have explained this to me, but a lot of my credits did not transfer from Tulsa, so I did not have enough hours to qualify as a sophomore.”

Crockett explained there were classes like English, and some math courses, that when he transferred, were credited to him as electives instead of core classes.

“If I had known they were going to count as electives, I would have taken the other classes that would have allowed me to take English and Math as core classes, but instead I just had too many hours to make up.”

For the year, Crockett will continue to take classes at Navarro but is doubling by taking classes at Dallas Community College.

Although this could be considered a tough blow for the Tulsa transfer, Crockett is taking it as an opportunity to improve his speed in a three-step process.

“I’m just making sure I get my academics worked out, and then just continuing to work on my speed and agility so I’m ready when it comes time to come to SMU.”

Crockett has dropped from 180 pounds down to 174 but plans to gain the weight back.

“I want to gain the weight back, then get used to maintaining that weight, after I’ve gotten used to maintain that weight then I can work on my speed and agility”, Crockett said, ”My dad is helping me with my diet right now and helping me make better nutritional choices.”

Crockett credits his experience at Corsicana for helping him get in shape, but making him tougher as well.

“When I was down in Corsicana over the summer, we ran in the heat every day,” Crockett said,” It’s not like Division 1 where there are restrictions, I really feel like this training made me so much mentally tougher and ultimately a better player.”

As for if Crockett has any plans to attend a SMU game this year, Crockett said he plans to be at UNT this weekend.

“I’ve been talking to Mitchell (Kaufman), I think we’re going to go this weekend.”

Neal Burcham Q&A

By: Patrick Engel

Q: New week, new game, how do you guys feel?
NB: We feel good about it. We’ve evaluated the film and we’ve learned from what we did wrong and what we did right, so we’re going to take that into practice this week, and we’ve already had a good couple days, and we’re going to finish it out strong and take that into Saturday.

Q: Were you guys able to quickly flush out last week’s game?
NB: You know, it kind of sticks with you, leaves a bad taste in your mouth when you get beat like that, and you kind of take that mindset into practice this week. We’ve forgotten about the loss, but we remember how that felt, and we don’t want to feel that again.

Q: What’s one thing you individually want to work on, and what’s one thing you took away from the Baylor game you think you did well?
NB: Individually, it’s more about the team and what we have to do collectively, so I’m not really worried about what I have to do individually, but more about what I have to do to help this team.

Q: Coach Jones talked about having a one-snap-and-clear mentality on defense. Is that something you guys do on offense?
NB: Yeah, we preach that on offense as well. You’ve got to have it on both sides of the ball, and you gotta have it on special teams as well. Whether you have a good play or a bad play, you’re going to have to forget about it because it’s over, and move on to the next one.

Q: What’s it been like working in a 2 QB system with Matt?
NB: It’s been good. We both get along very well, Matt’s a great guy, and we’re constantly competing and making each other better and making the team better.

Q: What’s the biggest thing you guys have to do to beat UNT?
NB: We’ve got to just be ready to work. You have to come in with a mindset that we’re gonna come in a work and come in and execute, and not come in down or disappointed about the loss, but ready to bounce back.


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