Ah yes, it’s that time of the year again- SMU basketball is back baby!
The Mustangs have had their share of bad news between the end of last season and the end of this week (Emmanuel Mudiay to China and Markus Kennedy’s ineligibility), but none of it has been enough to lower the extremely high expectations from media and fans alike.
For most, Friday’s season opener against Lamar will be the first time seeing this 2014 version of SMU.
However, given that I am somewhat of a regular at SMU’s practices, I have gotten a chance to really feel out this team and get glimpses at what individual players will bring to this year’s team.
So without further ado, here are my predictions for this season’s standout players.
MVP: Yanick Moreira
One of the first things anyone should be aware of is the sheer awesomeness that is Yanick Moreira.
He was banged up last season, so we didn’t get to see too much of him, but he played on the Angola national team in the 2014 FIBA World Cup.
This is about the seventh time I have written out his stats and I am still impressed. In five games he averaged 17.8 points, 8.2 rebounds, and shot 59.4 percent from the field.
Not to mention, he dropped 38 points and 15 rebounds against Australia.
Assuming he stays healthy, Moreira should dominate this season; he is going to get a lot of easy looks and should be able to attack boards often.
If he plays at the level he is capable of, he will be this team’s most valuable player.
Defensive player of the year: Ben Moore
I’ve been big on Ben Moore since last season, but leading up to this season I have come to love his game even more.
He played in every game last season and averaged 6.2 points and 3.6 rebounds in 14.8 minutes per game.
With Kennedy’s ineligibility, Moore should see an increase in his minutes. That coupled with his experience with the Global Sports Academy U.S. team this summer in Europe, should also result in an increase in production.
What stands out the most when looking at Moore, is his length. He is 6’8” tall and weighs 205 pounds.
He is very athletic and has the ability to matchup defensively with any player one through four. He might give up a little to some bigger fours, but his length and grittiness will help in those situations.
He has a very high motor and is one the hardest working players on the team.
If he really applies and commits himself to being a defensive enforcer, he can be that for SMU.
Biggest Surprise: Sterling Brown
It may not come as much of a surprise to those who follow this team closely, but to those who are just jumping in now, Sterling Brown can ball and he balls hard.
Brown joined Moore this summer on the Global Sports Academy team and his time overseas shows.
Last season he started in 26 games as a freshman and averaged 4.4 points, 3.8 rebounds in 19.4 minutes a game.
Coming into this year he looks way more confident than he did even at the end of last season.
He is one of the more versatile players on the roster and can run point if he has too, but will probably spend most of his time at shooting guard and small forward.
I fully expect him to step into a larger role this season and play at a very high level.