1. PG Nic Moore
Nic Moore went into the Cincinnati game first in free-throw percentage (91.1 percent), second in assists (4.9), third in 3-point percentage (45.3) and fourth in points (14.9) in The American. While he’s got to cut down on his turnovers, SMU fans must recognize that Moore is one of the best players in the AAC this year. He’s just been putting too much on his shoulders lately.
2. C Yanick Moreira
One player Moore can give more of the load to is senior Yanick Moreira, who has come on strong defensively in his last few games. Although the big man disappeared in the second half against Cincinnati, Moreira is the team’s most reliable big man this year. There’s no question Moreira needs others in the frontcourt to step up though.
3. SG Keith Frazier
Speaking of stepping up, Keith Frazier finished with one of his worst scoring games of the year, but overall Frazier has steadily improved all year. His play as of late has been enough to jump Ben Moore in the rankings. Frazier being a legitimate shooting threat on the outside with Nic Moore will be crucial.
4. F Ben Moore
Like Frazier, Moore has been up and down the last few games, having zero points against Cincinnati, but 15 against USF. Moore’s hot start to the season was great, but he must pick it up in big games. Moore also had zero points against Michigan. The SMU frontcourt has its hands full ahead with Memphis so a big presence is needed from the sophomore forward.
5. Ryan Manuel
Manuel has played steady basketball for SMU since coming into the lineup. Manuel hasn’t had more than two turnovers, but once this season. His season-high scoring output came against Cincinnati with 14 points and going 7-of-8 from the field. Manuel does disappear at times and needs to be more aggressive taking the ball to the hoop when Manuel gets it on the wing. That’s when he’s able to use his incredible athleticism and excel.
6. G/F Sterling Brown
At this point, Sterling Brown’s status coming off the bench is being validated by Ryan Manuel’s emergence, but Brown is still one of the most fundamentally sound players on the team. Brown is shooting over 61 percent from inside the arc. Brown has played anywhere from the 2 to the 4 for Larry Brown this year and that’s hindered him from being a real threat on offense, but his defense is solid.
7. F Markus Kennedy
After just 10 minutes against Michigan, Kennedy has seen his minutes go way up against USF and Cincinnati. While Kennedy is still shaking some rust and shooting just 36 percent from the field, there’s no doubt in my mind Kennedy will be a big contributor down the stretch.
8. C Cannen Cunningham
With Kennedy’s return, Cunningham’s minutes went down to 14, nine, 13 and 10 in SMU’s four games with Kennedy. That’s a sign that Brown will give Kennedy more time to acclimate and also that Cunningham has to step up. Cunningham has just looked disinterested at times this season. More of that and Cunningham’s senior season will be spent in more of a reserve role off the bench.
9. G/F Justin Martin
After Martin’s best game as a Mustang, the Xavier transfer was limited to three minutes, zero points and one rebound against Cincinnati. Martin has seen his minutes stay in the single digits in three of the past four games since Markus Kennedy has returned. If Martin is destined to stay on the bench some more, SMU will miss any chance of salvaging this NCAA tournament veteran’s season as being successful.
10. G Ben Emelogu
Emelogu just baffles SMU fans, who had high hopes for the former Virginia Tech captain this year. Emelogu may just need a year of acclimating, but he’s averaging 24 percent from the field. That’s not going to get it done and I’d be surprised if he gets over 15 minutes in a game the rest of this season.