SMU added a piece for the 2015-16 season when Duke transfer Semi Ojeleye committed to the Mustangs while on a visit on Saturday. He chose SMU over Illinois, Washington, Creighton, Oregon and Wisconsin.
The Ottawa, Kansas native was Scout’s 26th-ranked prospect in the Class of 2013 and the seventh-ranked small forward. He will be eligible in December 2015 and have two and a half years of eligibility remaining.
Ojeleye visited SMU this past weekend and met with Larry Brown and the staff and came away impressed enough to commit on the spot.
“I’ve got a little while before I can play again and during that time I just need to get as good as possible,” Ojeleye said. “He (Brown) said that he’d work with me everyday to get me where I could help the team and reach my potential as a player. He just talked about getting the opportunity to play when that time comes.”
Ojeleye got to Dallas late Friday and stayed through Sunday morning, but got to take in practice, get to know the coaches over a few meals and talked with some of the SMU players.
“After practice we stuck around and got to talk to a couple guys like Nic Moore,” Ojeleye said. “They work real hard in practice. I got to watch them play a little bit. I’ll get to know them more in a couple weeks. It was nice to talk to them in person.”
Brown sold Ojeleye though on becoming a versatile player than can play anywhere, something Ojeleye knows could help him reach the next level.
“He talked about playing on the perimeter and playing inside and out,” Ojeleye said. “Obviously at the next level those guys can all shoot, handle the ball and pass so to get there you have to learn those things and to be a good college player you’ve got to learn those things.”
With a year before Ojeleye is eligible, there’s plenty for him to focus on, but getting back to the basics will be great for the 6-7 forward.
“Just trying to get better everyday. Obviously I have to get used to my new teammates, new school and new city so that will take up a big part of it,” Ojeleye said. “While I’m doing that, I’ll just try to get back to basketball. Just focus on getting better and trying to relax and let this year be a positive.”
Ojeleye’s new city and campus impressed him as well with everything Dallas has to offer and the new buildings on SMU’s campus.
“Dallas is great. They only have one Division I team, which is nice for us and then they have the Cowboys, the Mavericks are there. Dallas is a nice area and there’s a lot to do,” Ojeleye said. “SMU has a nice campus. They put a lot of money in there recently. It looks new and feels nice, but it’s not too big in a city like that.”
Ojeleye didn’t visit anywhere else because he’d visited most of the other schools during his recruitment. After meeting with coach Brown, it was clear he had found where he needed to be.
“Just coach Brown and the experience he’s had. The way he connects with his players, I feel like I can play for a coach like that,” Ojeleye said. “I think coach Brown can really help me do what I need to do to get better.”
In six games for Duke this season, Ojeleye averaged 3.0 points and 2.3 rebounds.