SMU Basketball Gradebook

Grading each SMU basketball player for his 2014-15 season.

SMU’s most successful season in a long time came to a controversial and abrupt end in the NCAA tournament. Now with the season over, let’s rewind and take a look back at each player’s performance this season.

G Nic Moore

Moore was the engine in SMU’s offense and the team’s unquestioned leader. He struggled with inconsistency during the nonconference season and sometimes fell back into his habit of pressing mentally, but during conference play he became SMU’s go-to guy. Moore carried SMU to a handful of wins and ignited some comebacks when no one else could make a play. His knack for clutch shots, passing ability and leadership earned him the AAC Player of the Year award.

Grade: A-

G Keith Frazier

Frazier entered his sophomore season with big things expected of him. He broke out in a Nov. 22 game against Eastern Washington with 17 points on 7-of-8 shooting, and carried that momentum on for the rest of his season. He took fewer bad shots that last season and even showed improvement on defense. But, as we all know, Frazier was ruled academically ineligible and played his final game of 2014-15 on Jan. 14 against Temple. While his improvement was evident, the inability to stay on the court hurts his individual grade.

Grade: C+

G Ryan Manuel

Fans didn’t expect much out of Manuel in his senior season. But he became SMU’s lockdown defender and replaced Nick Russell’s defense and veteran leadership, which SMU so dearly missed in the early going. He also chipped in a few productive offensive games too, such as his 20-point outburst against UCF and his 5-7 shooting effort against ECU. Without Manuel’s contributions on defense, SMU would not have been nearly as successful as it was.

Grade: B+

G Jonathan Wilfong

Remember when he dunked?
Grade: N/A

G Jean-Micheal Mudiay

Remember when he almost dunked?
Grade: N/A

G Kevin Dunleavy

Remember how he never tried to dunk?
Grade: N/A (But all the walk-ons get props for helping run the scout team).

G Sterling Brown

The best way to describe Brown may well be “Glue Guy.” However, the season didn’t start off that well for him. Brown saw his minutes decrease after starting 26 games as a freshman, as both Ben Emelogu and Keith Frazier earned early starts over him. He scored fewer than three points (five goose eggs) in 10 of SMU’s first 17 games. But he wasn’t doing anything wrong. Brown makes major contributions to games in ways other than scoring (he still had four games with at least five rebounds in that same stretch), but he just wasn’t getting the minutes. After Keith Frazier’s academic suspension, Brown seamlessly entered the starting lineup and played 30-plus minutes in 12 of the next 17 games, never dipping below 26. His defense, rebounding ability and hustle plays were essential for SMU.

Grade: B+

G Ben Emelogu

Emelogu was expected to sit out a year after transferring from Virginia Tech in July, but was cleared to play three weeks before the start of the season. He was initially counted on to spell Nic Moore at point guard, but saw most of his minutes at the two guard spot. Emelogu never found his shooting touch and had some defensive struggles as well, leading to limited minutes for him. In fairness, learning Larry Brown’s offense in just a few short months and playing right away is no easy task, and with a year under his belt and a great attitude, he’s a good bet to improve significantly before next year.

Grade: D+

F Justin Martin

Martin was supposed to bring veteran leadership and stability to SMU, but never truly embraced it and brought mixed results on the court. He left in early January to turn pro amid ineligibility rumors.

Grade: D

F Ben Moore

Moore was an early-season darling for SMU fans, bursting out with 22 points, nine rebounds and five assists in SMU’s opening win against Lamar. However, once conference play started, he only topped 10 points five times and wasn’t a consistent offensive force. His athleticism and length on defense were helpful, but his inability to consistently score combined with Markus Kennedy’s return and Cannen Cunningham’s stellar play down the stretch limited Moore’s minutes.

Grade: B-

F Markus Kennedy

Kennedy’s academic suspension hurt SMU during the nonconference slate, and he was a big help on both ends of the floor when he returned. But, he never seemed to be in the same physical shape he was in 2013-14, and that’s why he looked a little slow in some games. Kennedy was still a crucial piece for SMU this season, just not the dominant force he was a season ago. To his credit, he did improve his free throw shooting and even developed a decent mid-range jumper. Plus, his solid passing skills helped SMU’s offense be a force in the paint.

Grade: B

F Cannen Cunningham

A solid player lost in SMU’s rotation of big men last season, Cunningham became a force during conference play. He brought range from the forward position, solid post skills and smooth moves to the hoop with the ball. Cunningham’s energy wasn’t always apparent in past seasons, but he played with a different level of energy this year. Had he played more minutes when Kennedy was ineligible, SMU might have found a groove earlier.

Grade: B

F Yanick Moreira

We all know what happened against UCLA. But this is about the entire season. Moreira had some goaltending issues before the tournament, but he was still a good rim protector and defensive player (the near-triple-double was fun). He came into the season with big things expected, thanks to his dominant play in the FIBA World Cup over the summer. Moreira brought pretty consistent production from the center spot and led the team in field goal percentage. While he didn’t do anything flashy, he was still an important player for the Mustangs this year.

Grade: B

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