SMU putting full-court press on Georgia forward
By: Billy Embody
SMU is still hitting the recruiting trail trying to fill out the 2015 class with another athletic front court option.
One of the more coveted options left on the market is Sound Doctrine Christian Academy (Ga.) forward Shawntrez Davis and the Mustangs have plenty of time to land the services of the versatile forward.
”Yea they have. They came down today and I talked with them,” Davis said. “Larry Brown he came today and K.T. and one other guy.”
SMU went full staff on Davis yesterday and that said a lot to the 6-8, 205-pound forward.
”Ohh it was cool. I talked to a legend so everything was special,” Davis said. “I see him walk in the gym when I’m doing shootaround and after practice I talked with him for like 45 minutes.”
Brown and Davis’ conversation was mostly about his game and how he’d fit and then the big news came for Davis.
”He shared the coaching part, I shared the basketball part of it. He offered me right then and there,” Davis said.
For Brown to offer Davis right there, that was a big deal, but even more important was what Brown told him about his role on the team.
“He said if I commit, I can play right away. It’s up to me and it’s my decision, but to come in and work hard,” Davis said. “I feel special for a legendary coach to tell me that I can come in and play right away.”
Other coaches have tried that, but Davis says Brown’s promise is different.
”A lot of people came in and told me the same thing. It’s a weird feeling in my heart right now after he said it,” Davis said.
Davis is just beginning to build a relationship with the SMU staff, including assistant K.T. Turner.
”We’re just trying to get to know each other and build a good relationship like I’m trying to with all the coaches,” Davis said. “I’m going to remain who I am.”
What has impressed Davis the most is how Brown has handling building SMU since his days of coaching NBA superstars.
”It’s kind of cool how he set the team with a low tone, coaching Allen Iverson, Vince Carter and the USA 2000 Olympics and everything,” Davis said. “To get feedback from him on everything, it was kind of cool.”
Davis said distance wouldn’t be a factor and SMU being close to where the Dallas Mavericks play and their players coming to SMU to practice in the offseason, is a big deal.
”I’d go to Dallas, but right now I don’t know where I’m going and I’m still open to whoever,” Davis said. “Just having SMU on the list, it feels good.” With the likes of West Virginia, Connecticut, Texas, Texas Tech, Georgia, Georgia Tech, and Tennessee among his 17 offers, SMU has stiff competition, but no one is in the lead for Davis.
”There’s not one of them that’s standing out right now, they’re all standing out.”
Davis wants to sign in the spring whenever he finds the school the he fits in with, but the family atmosphere the team projects will be key.
”Just the brotherhood and if I’m going to a college I want to get something out of it. I’m not just thinking college, I’m thinking pro,” Davis said. “If I’m not one-and-done, maybe I’d be a two-and-done type kid. I’m just trying to roll with it and grind hard.”
Davis wants to find the school that he’ll represent proudly. He won’t transfer, waiver or anything from his commitment and will be proud of the school that’s name is on the front of his jersey.
On his high school team, Davis has played multiple positions and his training has allowed him to be successful at most of those spots in the lineup.
”I developed my skills from the five all the way to the one. I’ve got a team that’s on a whole other level,” Davis said. “Just working on guarding and shooting. Right now, I can stick it through (a whole game) and play hard.”
Davis admits he is working to find better shot selection and finding open spots better, but he’s still one of the most coveted players in the South.
Davis is planning his visits after Christmas break. Where he takes his officials and unofficials is unknown, but he wants to take a look at all his options.
Scout has Davis rated as a three-star in the 2015 class.
SMU in constant contact with 2016 Lancaster big man
By: Scott Sanford
While SMU continues to search for a big man in the class of 2015, the staff has already made contact with a number of forwards and centers from the 2016 and 2017 classes.
2016 Lancaster (Tex.) center Nate Morris, a teammate of former SMU target Elijah Thomas, remains in constant contact with the SMU coaching staff and has formed a special bond with one coach in particular.
“We have a close relationship. It’s kind of like family really,” Morris said about the SMU staff. “(I’m close) with all of them, but really close with Ulric (Maligi). I’ve just known him for quite a while and he was probably one of the first college coaches to start talking to me. It’s been really cool because we know a lot about each other and we come from a similar background.”
The 6-foot-9, 240-pound Morris says he talks with Coach Maligi at least every other week, if not every week, but has yet to take in a game in Moody Coliseum.
Morris has been to a couple of open gyms on the Hilltop, but he does plans on attending at least one game in Moody this season.
For Morris, it’s simple when it comes to why he could see himself playing on the Hilltop some day.
“I know they have a great coach and I really like the way they play,” Morris said. “I like their style.”
While Morris plays mostly center in high school he understands that to be successful at the next level, he will likely have to slide over the four, which he is fine with.
The rising junior has been working on developing a more well-rounded game so that transition won’t be as difficult.
“I’m trying to work on my ball handling skills a little bit to make better moves from the high post, and there’s always room for improvement,” Morris said. “I also need to work on my shot a little more.”
It’s still early in Morris’ recruitment, but the Lancaster center would like to make his college decision during his senior season.
Right now, SMU, Tulsa, Oregon State and Kansas State are the schools showing the most interest in Morris.
Rothstein sounds off on SMU
By: Patrick Engel
CBS Sports college basketball insider Jon Rothstein visited SMU practice on Nov. 4 and shared his thoughts on the Mustangs with Pony Stampede’s Patrick Engel.
Patrick Engel: How do you think SMU will fare if Markus Kennedy is forced to miss time because of his eligibility concerns?
Jon Rothstein: Obviously, when you undertake a nonconference schedule of that magnitude, you’re doing it with the thought you’re going to have your best player. I think SMU, for all intents and purposes, anticipated having Emmanuel Mudiay when they put that schedule together. But one of the misconceptions out there is that this team isn’t capable without him. I still think it’s a top 15 team that is a favorite in the American Athletic Conference. With that said, I think it would obviously serve them better to have Markus Kennedy when they play Gonzaga and Indiana. But I still think they’re capable because of the depth on this team. They don’t get enough credit one through 10 for how deep a roster they have.
PE: Yanick Moreira’s play at the FIBA shows the depth and talent SMU has. Do you think he’ll be big in replacing Markus Kennedy?
JR: I don’t think you can replace Markus because of what he brings at the high post, his ability to turn and face, his ability to pass. He’s a player that’s really unique. I do think they can plug somebody else in that spot and be a different team and different front line that’s still very effective. I think if Markus doesn’t play, you’re going to see more minutes from Ben Moore at the four. Another thing nobody’s really talking about is that Justin Martin can play some four. When you have a lot of good players, you can work your roster like it’s a Rubix cube, and I think that’s what Coach Brown will do.
PE: UConn is the popular pick to win the AAC and Ryan Boatright is a popular preseason AAC player of the year pick. Do you prefer Ryan or Nic Moore?
JR: I think they are different players. Nic Moore got lost in the shuffle in the AAC and nationally because the league had three first-team All-Americans in Russ Smith, Sean Kilpatrick and Shabazz Napier. I don’t think Nic gets enough credit for how good he was last year. I think with that said, the unique thing about this league is that you have a lot of teams that really are starting new chapters. Ryan Boatright proved that he was very effective as a secondary guy, but can he be the alpha dog?
That’s the million-dollar question. I think you’re in a situation where SMU is coming to the forefront, and people are going to wonder if the new guys that they have will change the landscape of this team compare to what we saw last year with Shawn Williams and Nick Russell. It’s a unique dynamic, and I don’t think its fair to pick between [Nic and Ryan]. This league is searching for some new players to come to the forefront.
PE: How do you think SMU’s frontcourt with Markus shapes up against the rest of the AAC’s frontcourts?
JR: I don’t think it just one of the better frontcourts in the AAC, I think it’s one of the better frontcourts in the country. I think other than Kentucky, Arizona and Texas, I think you have to look at SMU’s front line as being as deep and as versatile as any other program in the country.
PE: Do you think SMU scheduled the tough nonconference games because a weak nonconference schedule last year may have kept them out?
JR: It’s still ridiculous to me that the team wasn’t in the tournament. I don’t think the committee does a good enough job really using the eye test and saying, ‘Can this team play, or can this team not play?’ SMU proved that it wasn’t just good enough to play in the NCAA tournament; it proved it was good enough to win in the NCAA tournament.
PE: SMU scheduled three big nonconference games with Gonzaga, Indiana and Michigan. What are some the other nonconference games you’re keeping an eye on?
JR: I think Arkansas is a team that is going to be in the group of teams behind Kentucky in the SEC. I think Wyoming is a team that, with Larry Nance Jr., can compete for a Mountain West regular season title. People forget that Wyoming was on pace to compete for an NCAA bid last year when Nance Jr. tore his ACL.
Pierre-Louis Observing but Early in Process
By: Andrew Hattersley
Nate Pierre-Louis, a 6-3 170 pound PG from St. Peters Prep in New Jersey, is just getting ready to begin his sophomore season.
The class of 2017-point guard received an offer from the Mustangs but his dad, Frantz Pierre-Louis, says his contact with SMU has been scarce so far.
“Not much really, they offered him, that’s all it basically is really” said Frantz, ”They can’t really recruit him as hard as they want to right now because he’s only a sophomore.”
Frantz said his son is looking for an established program that will be able to help his son grow.
“He’s just looking for a good environment, a good academic environment and a good balance between academics and athletics,” said Frantz, “A program that can probably help him reach his goals.”
Frantz’s dad said his son would be watching SMU this season, as well as, other schools to get a good understanding of all the schools.
“He’ll be watching and looking and watching different schools, and SMU is one of them, watch how they run, what they do, their success this season,” said Frantz.
Frantz was quick to point out however that Nate is still a couple years away so it’s hard to take too much stake in what is happening now.
For right now, Nate is just trying to take everything in stride as he moves through high school.
“In his eyes and in my eyes, he has a long way to go,” said Frantz, ”He’s just focused on getting better, we just take everything with a grain of salt.”
Crowe says it’d be “an honor” to play for Larry Brown
By: Andrew Hattersley
Mark Crowe, a 6-4 180 pound SG from Woodrow Wilson High School in Dallas, has an offer from SMU as he begins his junior year.
Crowe, a part of the 2016 class, says he has spoken a lot to SMU Assistant Ulric Maligi but not as much as recently, however, he still loves the program.
“It’s really close to home so I’d be able to have my parents come to my games,” said Crowe.
Crowe also noted last years success certainly played a role in him being interested in SMU.
“Oh yeah definitely,” said the Woodrow Wilson SG, “I’m very impressed with coach, very prestigious, it’d be an honor to play under him.”
Crowe does not have any visits planned but has offers from multiple schools.
The class of 2016 shooting guard does not have any plans to visit SMU, as of right now, but would love to attend a basketball game this year, as well as, tour the campus.
As his own season approaches, Crowe is also extremely focused on fine-tuning his own game.
“Attacking the basket left, going left when attacking the basketball and finishing with the left hand,” said Crowe.
Crowe also has high hopes for his own team after a good summer playing a lot of good teams.
“I expect us to at least said to definitely at least get to Austin, that’s the number one goal.”