The Hilltop Review

Come inside this week's Hilltop Review for all the latest news in SMU's recruiting news!

Nelson recaps SMU visit

By: Billy Embody

2017 point guard Ricky Nelson is taking it slow with his recruitment. His parents keep other offers from him to keep him grounded, but the Houston Episcopal budding star took a visit to SMU yesterday.

Nelson was able to make the trip to SMU because he’s in town for a Pangos camp in Lewisville.

“People already know me. I want to prove people wrong like 247Sports and Rivals,” Nelson said. “I’m just trying to go out there and play the game I know how to play and work on my weaknesses and show everybody what I can do. I want to prove that I’m better than the last time they saw me.

So far though, the SMU visit was the highlight.

“When we first got there, we watched them practice. It was a really good system. I like how Larry Brown is hands on and all the coaches are great, the players worked hard, it’s a good environment out there.”

Nelson and his teammate, Khiry Shelton, watched practice then shot around with the team, visited the campus, basketball facilities and got to eat with the players.

The pair had time to talk with Hall of Fame coach, Larry Brown.

“I talked to Larry Brown twice. We had a nice, long conversation while I was shooting,” the 6-1, 155-pound guard said. “He was telling me all the good things about the school and that he was going to be following me throughout the summer and my high school career.”

Brown’s system made a great impression on Nelson, who liked the freedom Brown gives his players.

“The one thing I liked the most is that coach Brown just lets them play. He wants the players to play their game,” Nelson said. “He doesn’t hold them back. He wants to get up and down the floor and play the game that you know how to play. If you can score, go score. If you can pass, go pass. Just do what you do best.”

Nelson was thoroughly impressed with the great environment SMU provides.

“I thought the campus was great and I asked all the players and they said their campus life is great,” Nelson said. “Everyone is so nice. It’s a great environment out there.”

The Houston Elite guard also talked with Keith Frazier and Ryan Manuel. The SMU guards had some words of wisdom for the young player.

“They gave me some real good advice about how to attack my sophomore and high school career,” Nelson said. “They talked to me about Larry Brown and what they do. They were giving me words of advice.”

So far, Nelson has offers from UT-Arlington and Lamar that he knows of, but is also garnering interest from SMU, Texas, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Kansas State, UCLA and Wake Forest.

“I have more offers, but my dad and my coach are keeping those offers from me to keep me grounded for now,” Nelson said.

As for an SMU offer, Nelson isn’t sure whether or not he has one, but he has a good feeling.

“I really don’t know. I think I have, but my parents and my coaches aren’t telling me just to keep me grounded, but I’m pretty sure I have,” Nelson said.

“By far, I even said it today that, SMU really impressed me. They were up there with the top schools I visited that I liked.”

One of the big reasons why Nelson is a big fan of SMU is his relationship with coach Ulric Maligi.

“I have a good relationship with coach Ulric. My dad has been an AAU coach and he’s been up to recruit some of my dad’s players a couple years ago,” Nelson said. “We’ve had a real good relationship since I was young, so that relationship is really good now.”

Nelson is gearing up for his sophomore season, which he expects to have a bigger role in than just playing the point.

“I’m mostly excited about being the leader of the team. This year we have a travel schedule,” Nelson said. “We’ll be going to California to play the MaxPreps Holiday Classic. I’m really looking forward to leading my team and getting out there more.”

Nelson will take his second trip to Texas A&M later in the fall over Thanksgiving, but doesn’t have other visits set up yet. The sophomore will visit Lamar, Houston and Texas Tech.

2016 PF talks SMU offer

By: Patrick Engel

SMU has been heavily recruiting Corona Centennial HS (Calif.), and that trend continued when the Mustangs offered 2016 C Ike Anigbogu in early October. Anigbogu is the third Centennial player to receive an SMU offer, joining 2017 PF Jalen Hill and 2015 PG Sedrick Barefield, who committed to the Mustangs in February. The three were also teammates on the AAU Compton Magic.

“It’s really exciting,” Anigbogu said. “One of my teammates (Barefield) has the offer too, and I always look up to him. When he committed, I starting kind of paying attention to SMU, so it was exciting to get it.”

Anigbogu said that Barefield talks about SMU regularly to the team, and that has sparked Anigbogu’s interest in the school.

“We can all tell he’s really excited about it,” Anigbogu said.

Anigbogu has not met any of the SMU coaches yet, but he has seen them when they’ve come to see Barefield or Hill. But Anigbogu says he is impressed with SMU and has watched the Mustangs on ESPN.

“One of our plays, we actually got from them, and it actually works pretty well,” Anigbogu said.

The 6-foot-10, 220-pound center has been around the SMU campus before, but never on it. He said he wants to visit the Hilltop for an unofficial visit.

In addition to SMU, Anigbogu has offers from Arizona State, New Mexico, Tulsa and San Jose State. He said Harvard, Oregon, UCLA, Arizona, Stanford, San Diego State, California and West Virginia have all shown interest. He said that SMU is pretty high on his list, but Tulsa has been recruiting him the hardest and the longest.

Anigbogu has interest from a lot of good programs, but he will strongly consider the schools with good academics.

“Obviously, basketball has to be good, but in my family, academics are really important, so I think that’s the probably the number one priority,” Anigbogu said. “But the environment and the overall feel of the campus and the staff are important too.”

Anigbogu is confident that Centennial will have a stellar season with him, Barefield and Hill leading the way.

“I’m feeling really good. I think we should be able to do big things this year if we can put it together,” Anigbogu said.

SMU showing interest in 2015 guard

By: Billy Embody

SMU has been in the market for a 2015 guard to pair with Sedrick Barefield and to add to the class with Jarrey Foster. Odessa JC guard Jaylen Brantley has been getting a lot of interest from SMU lately.

Brantley talked with SMU head coach Larry Brown Sunday then got a visit from SMU associate coach Tim Jankovich this week.

“He (Brown) said he’s heard great things about me and he’s going to try and come down next week and see and talk to me to let me know how SMU plays and stuff like that,” Brantley said.

It was Brantley’s first contact from SMU and it came from the Hall of Fame coach directly, a surprise for Brantley.

“It was definitely out of the blue. I was actually stunned. I didn’t believe it was him at first. That’s how shocked I was,” Brantley said. “He was a pretty nice guy. He was telling me about his background. I was just excited to have a coach as legendary as that call my phone and thinking that I can play at his school.”

Brantley then had Jankovich visit Wednesday and he came away impressed with Jankovich.

“It was great to meet him. He just told me that he thought I was a great player and he thinks I could play in their system. They’re going to come watch me this weekend at the showcase with coach Brown,” Brantley said. “He said he was going to talk to coach Brown today and see how they were going to play this out. Hopefully, I can come out in the near future for a visit.”

Brantley said that Brown elaborated on their search for another guard.

“He told me that they lose six guys off their team and told me that he needs a point guard,” the 6-0, 175-pound guard said. “He said he thinks I can come in and contribute to the team. I’d be a great fit there too.”

Brantley took a long road to Odessa after coming up one credit short to qualify under NCAA rules out of high school. Brantley got his credits in order at Marshall University then went to Odessa to refine his game.

Indiana, TCU, Wichita State, Illinois and Penn State have been on him. Brantley does hold a Maryland offer.

Being in Texas now, Brantley watched SMU a few times and was impressed with the turnaround job Brown has done.

“I’ve seen SMU play a lot. They were top 25 most of the year and I don’t know how they didn’t get into the tournament,” Brantley said. “I know they’re pretty good. Obviously, they’ve got one of the best coaches in the country so they’re going to be good every year.”

Brantley couldn’t turn down an SMU visit if the opportunity comes his way.

“If that opportunity comes, I definitely would,” Brantley said. “We’ll have to see what happens in the next few weeks if they do offer I’ll definitely visit.”

Brantley will visit Maryland on October 17 and likes the Terrapins program, but he’s not rushing into it.

“To me, I’m not sure yet. Whenever the right school comes and the right situation comes, I’ll know where I’ll want to go,” Brantley said. “As of right now, I’m just trying to focus on my grades and the season coming up, but I don’t have a timetable.”

Brantley has always been a good three-point shooter, but he’s focusing on the little things more now.

“I need to improve a little bit on my defense. That’s going to come in time. I’m not really going be worried about that,” Brantley said. “That’s really the only part of my game, but I need to get my handles a little tighter. There’s things that everybody can work on, but that’s what I need to do right now.”

Brantley knows what he wants in a school though.

“I’m looking for a great situation where I can come in and play right away and be a contributor to the team,” Brantley said. “Make the tournament and try and get as far as we can, great staff, great coaches, great conference. I want to play against the best players in the country. That’s what it’s really all about so I’m really just basing that off of it.”

Brantley was in Dallas yesterday for the Mullen/Mitchell JUCO Showcase.

SMU Among Rafus’s Top Schools

By: Andrew Hattersley

2017 St. Frances Academy (MD) small forward Andre Rafus has been receiving a lot of interest lately, but says SMU is among his top schools.

“SMU is in there, SMU is in the top,” said Rafus.

Rafus does like the culture at SMU, but is not sure where SMU stacks up on his list.

“I like Larry Brown, he’s a terrific coach, I think the culture there is a good fit, I’m still not sure where they are with my options,” said Rafus.

Rafus says last years deep NIT run is a big reason why SMU is one of his top schools.

“I like how they were able to make sure that small forward position was key and got Nick the ball,” said Rafus.

Rafus top schools joining SMU are Maryland, USC, UNLV, USC, Kansas State for right now.

The 2017 small forward just finished up his live period, one he said was a major success.

“I had a real good live period, I enjoyed it, I got a lot of scholarships this year,” said Rafus.

Rafus has visits schedule to Maryland, UNLV and Connecticut but is also trying to plan a visit to SMU.

As for SMU, Rafus said he would be a prolific scorer for this team that could add a lot of speed.

He was also not shy in confidence in elaborating on what could make him an even better player.

“I need to work on becoming a better defender, if I can tighten up my defense, I think I will become even greater than what I am already.”

Ottey visits with coach Brown

By: Billy Embody

St. Benedict’s Prep school 2015 combo guard Marcus Ottey got the chance to talk with coach Brown after Brown watched one of his practices a couple weeks ago.

“He just came in, him and another coach, and sat and watched our practice. After everyone went to shake his hand,” Ottey said. “He stopped me for a bit and talked to me for a bit. He said he liked my game and to keep focusing on school.”

Ottey was more blown away by meeting Brown because Brown coached one of Ottey’s favorite players.

“It was just an honor meeting him because he’s a legend,” Ottey said. “He coached my favorite player, Allen Iverson, and it was an honor meeting him because he’s a legendary coach.”

As a 6-2, athletic, combo guard, Ottey is what SMU is looking for to compliment Sedrick Barefield. Ottey hadn’t heard much before from SMU, but would listen if SMU came calling again.

For now, Ottey continues to work on his game, which he tries to emulate two of the best point guards in the NBA.

“You could compare me to a John Wall or a Russell Westbrook,” Ottey said. “I like to run the floor and penetrate, being unselfish and kicking it out to the open man.”

Ottey does have to worry about stepping up leadership on the court though.

“Being more vocal because I’m the point guard and I need to be more of a leader so I need to be more vocal on the court,” Ottey said.

Ottey has an offer from New Mexico State and a few schools interested like Baylor, Massachusetts, St. Bonaventure, Virginia Tech and American University.

A Toronto native, Ottey is adjusting to life at one of the top American basketball prep schools in the country.

“I’m adjusting pretty well to it. The school is a lot more strict and they make sure you do your work,” Ottey said. “It’s very disciplined so they get you ready for college.”

Ottey isn’t sure when he’ll decide on a school since he’s evaluating his options, but he’s looking for the best fit.

“Just a school where I fit best,” Ottey said. “It doesn’t have to be the biggest school in the country, just a school where I feel most comfortable and I can play my game.”


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