Disclaimer: my projections and rankings reflect my best guesses right now based on my information and coverage of SMU's 2016 targets. Recruiting is a fluid process and can change quickly. Projections change too, especially when I hear new information).
1. Andrew Jones (Irving, Tex.)- two stars
Jones had a terrific summer and grabbed some big offers, including Arizona, Louisville, Baylor and Texas. He’s a high-scoring combo guard with explosiveness. SMU offered him in the spring and he took an unofficial there before he blew up, so it has a solid relationship with him that those other schools may not have just yet. He and his parents are high on SMU, but I think Jones was very intrigued by the bigger options that came his way after his impressive summer. He recently took a massive unofficial visit spree to five schools (the first four mentioned plus Texas A&M), so he’s much more familiar with those bigger schools now. I think Jones will give SMU a good look, but ultimately I think he goes elsewhere. However, I’m not completely ruling him out of signing with SMU.
2. Bruce Brown (Saxtons River, Vt.)- one star
Brown a dynamic scorer and has colleges looking at him as a point guard and a shooting guard (personally I like him as a two-guard). He’s such a tough kid to read because he and his coach never talk to us. Brown did say at the Houston EYBL that he talks to or texts SMU assistant coach Jerry Hobbie nearly every day. But we haven’t heard from him since, so we don’t know if that’s continued. My sense is that it hasn’t and SMU isn’t focusing on him. The staff would take him if he wanted to commit, but I think he’s unlikely to even take an official.
3. Dashawn McDowell (Oklahoma City)- four stars
Other notes: Carsen Edwards was thought to be a big target, but the staff backed off after July’s Peach Jam. A month later, he committed to Purdue. Edwards projects as a true point guard, with a little Nic Moore to his game. SMU saw a few other point guard options go elsewhere in early August: Quinton Rose, Jagan Mosely, Tony Carr and Skylar Mays all held offers and committed elsewhere, but weren’t as big of priorities and were long shots.
Projection: If SMU lands McDowell or Jones, I think it would be done in the backcourt because of likely scholarship reductions coming from the impending NCAA penalties. And that’s exactly how I see it playing out: SMU lands McDowell and turns its attention to the frontcourt.
Shooting guard/small forward/wing
1. Amir Coffey (Minnetonka, Minn.)- one star
SMU just offered Coffey on Monday night, so this is a brand-new addition. He’s a top 40 player in the class, and SMU might be a little late to the party. He is high on Texas and will take an official there, so he’s entertaining the possibility of playing in the Lone Star State. But I’m skeptical SMU makes a serious run and lands him. Ultimately, I think he ends up at Minnesota.
2. Lamar Stevens (Philadelphia)- two stars
A power wing in the mold of former Maryland SF Dez Wells, Stevens kept SMU in his top eight last month. He’s set officials to Marquette and Pittsburgh, and told Scout’s Brian Snow that he’s likely to visit Indiana and Penn State. SMU would have a much better chance here if it had landed his teammate, Tony Carr. If SMU gets the fifth official, it has a puncher’s chance. But I don’t think that will happen. I only think he’d leave the East Coast for Indiana.
3. DeAndre Hunter (Philadelphia)- one star
Hunter is another recent offer from SMU to a kid who brought in a nice haul in July. He’s a power wing like Stevens. He kept SMU in his top 11, but I don’t think SMU will make a push for him or get a visit. A top 11 also doesn’t mean much, especially in August.
4. Jakolby Long (Mustang, Okla.)- two stars
SMU offered Long a while ago, but I’m not sure he was really a top target. The 6-foot-5 wing had a solid AAU season and just picked up an offer from Iowa State and will visit there Oct. 3. If the Mustangs made a serious run at him, I think they would have a shot because he seems pretty wide open right now. I just don’t think they will make a run.
5. Josh Parrish (Arlington, Tex.)- one star
Projection: SMU lands its guard in McDowell and doesn’t get (or seriously pursue) anyone on the above list.
1. Eric Curry (Little Rock, Ark.)- three stars
Curry is my favorite SMU target at any position. He’s a superb athlete who reminds me a lot of Ben Moore. He’s a huge priority for the coaching staff and he has his official visit set for Sept. 11-12. SMU will have to beat out a tough group of Arkansas, Vanderbilt, Minnesota and Alabama for his services, but the coaches will roll out the red carpet on his visit and he’ll hopefully leave knowing he’s a priority. He’s set visits to Minnesota (Sept. 3-4) and Arkansas (Sept. 18-19) too. It’s unlikely Curry commits on his SMU visit, but I think he has high interest in the school. I don’t have a true feeling for where he’s leaning, but I think SMU will be in this until the end.
2. Clevon Brown (San Antonio, Tex.)- two stars
Brown was another riser in July whom I like a lot after watching some tape. He plays a little at center for his high school, but would be best as a four in college. SMU likes him a lot and he’s a big target, especially if Curry goes elsewhere. Brown is a tough kid to get ahold of, but I just feel that he will get to SMU for an official. Other than that, I don’t have a clear feeling here. But I expect SMU to stay on him.
3. Romello White (Suwanee, Ga.)- two stars
A former Tennessee commit, White grabbed an SMU offer in July. He’s a mix of a face-up and traditional four. I think SMU has some chance of an official, but I don’t think he’s a big target for the Mustangs. A recent Kansas offer could be a big factor for him.
4. Willie Jackson (Garfield Heights, Ohio)- one star
Jackson picked up an SMU offer over a year ago, but I don’t think he’s had more than periodical contact. He’s coveted by a couple Big Ten teams and I think he’s unlikely to leave the Midwest.
5. Oliver Powell (Roweltt, Tex.)- three stars
SMU was one of Powell’s first offers back in the spring, and he’s picked up about 10 more since after a good AAU season.He’s been to SMU a lot and is very familiar with the entire program. I have a feeling he’s leaning SMU. But that’s where things get interesting. I think it’s a matter of how much SMU wants Powell, because he’s not exactly a priority target. That’s not to bash him, because I think he has a decent game. But with likely scholarship reductions, SMU has to be careful with its available spots so it can get who it wants. So I’m not sure he’s a take for SMU with bigger targets like Curry, Brown and Mike Layssard still there. The staff can afford to slow play him a little, especially because I don’t think he’s that close to a decision right now. If SMU misses on Curry, Brown or Layssard, it could go harder after Powell and probably land him. But I put only three stars on him because right now he’s not a big target.
Other notes: Klein Forest (Texas) power forward DeAndre Williams holds an SMU offer, but I think he’s in the same boat as Powell. I think it’s a matter of how much SMU wants Williams, but I also don’t think Williams is as likely to commit as Powell.
Projection: This one is the hardest to predict in my mind. I think SMU will target and end up with two solid big men. I think they’ll get one of their biggest targets, which are Curry, Brown and Layssard. Beyond that, there’s a lot left to play out.
1. Mike Layssard Jr. (Lena, La.)- three stars
This may be a surprise to see that I have Layssard ranked above Schnider Herard. I’ll readily admit I like Layssard better. Layssard is very interested in SMU, and SMU is very interested in him. I think he’s a major steal, even though he racked up some big offers this summer. He needs to keep his weight in control in college, but SMU can sell its development of Markus Kennedy in that area. His AAU coach has told me he will take an official to SMU (date still TBD), and my feeling from our conversation is that Oklahoma, Wichita State, Providence and Rhode Island are the best bets to get the other officials. I have a very loose gut feeling that he will sign with SMU. I won’t call it a prediction, or I would have given him four stars. His plan is to sign in the early period. But SMU will have to beat out Oklahoma, which offered him a month ago and I think it really resonated with him.
2. Jayce Johnson (Santa Monica, Calif.)- one star
A 7-footer, Johnson got an SMU offer in June, but I don’t think he was ever that interested. Kansas is a good bet to land him.
3. Schnider Herard (Plano, Tex.)- two stars
I’m not that impressed with Herard. He’s a great defender, but he’s very raw offensively, sometimes tires out easily then mentally checks out. I think he can become a more well-rounded player under the right coach, and SMU is going to pursue him pretty heavily, as it has been doing for a while. He kept SMU in his top 10, and I think there’s a solid chance it gets a visit (official or unofficial) before he decides. But I don’t think he’s going to SMU unless he really values being close to home or other options fill up. His guardian told our Billy Embody that Herard could sign in the spring, which could mean he loses some options. If SMU has space left in the winter/spring and he’s still out there, the Mustangs have their best chance to get him.
4. Nate Morris (Lancaster, Tex.)- two stars
Another longtime SMU target, Morris has visited SMU for games a handful of times. But the staff has put a higher priority on Layssard and Herard. I’m much less confident that he will sign with SMU than I was a few months ago. I think he might wait until the spring to sign too, so he also could be in play if SMU enters the late period with space or desire for another big man.
Projection: I’m going out on a limb here…but I think SMU gets Layssard. That’s my prediction at the moment. I think they’ll land a class of him, McDowell and another big man.