The Hilltop Review 9/11

Come inside another jam-packed Hilltop Review for all the latest SMU recruiting news!

SMU hosts 2017 guard

By: Patrick Engel

SMU hosted 2017 Paul VI (Va.) point guard Aaron Thompson left his SMU unofficial visit knowing he’d met a coaching staff that puts their players first. Thompson watched a team workout and toured the campus with assistant coach Jerry Hobbie. The two have kept in regular contact since SMU offered Thompson in June.

“Him and the rest of the coaching staff, they’re just down-to-earth and really care about their players. That’s the vibe I get from him, that he cares about his players on and off the court,” Thompson said. “You can’t really tell about every coach in basketball these days, so that’s pretty unique.

Thompson got the same vibe from head coach Larry Brown when he and his family talked with him in his office. He called meeting Brown his favorite part of the visit.

“They’re not just about basketball, its like a life experience when you go there,” Thompson said. “When you leave there, you’ll learn more than just how to be a good basketball player, you learn how to become a man and stuff like that. I think coach Brown does a great job grooming his players to become great men.”

SMU is far from the only team talking to Thompson. He said Virginia Tech and Temple talk to him a lot, and he took unofficial visits to both in early September.

“That’s been going steady,” Thompson said of his contact with the two schools. “I’d probably say Virginia Tech is recruiting me the hardest right now. Virginia Tech and Temple.”

SMU, Virginia Tech and Temple are the only visits he has taken this summer, but he wants to visit Miami (Fla.) and Nebraska either before or during the season.

“When I have some free time, I want to go down there, go to Miami, go to Nebraska and see what they have to offer, meet their coaching staff and see the campus,” Thompson said.

The 6-foot-2, 170-pound Thompson averaged 4.3 points, 2.3 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game on the EYBL circuit for Team Takeover, which was a win shy of reaching the Peach Jam championship game.

“I was the point guard on that team that made the Peach Jam final four as a rising junior, so that gave me some confidence,” Thompson said.

Thompson is a Scout three-star prospect and holds offers from SMU, Temple, Virginia Tech, Miami (Fla.), Nebraska, Penn State, Georgia Tech, VCU, Richmond, Rice, George Mason and Holy Cross.

2016 defensive back talks SMU offer

By: Andrew Hattersley

The SMU coaching staff has been looking all over for talent in the state of Texas and one name they appear to be interested in is 2016 Second Baptist School (Tex.) running back and defensive back Lynnard Rose.

“I talked to coach Van Malone, really all they have said is they want me to play DB for them,” Rose said.

Despite holding an offer from SMU, as well others from Rice, Houston, Air Force and all of the Ivy League schools, the contact with SMU has died down as of late.

“I haven’t recently; I really haven’t talked to him since probably the end of the last live period when coaches could call,” Rose said, “They said they like me as a player, and that it was a great school and for right now just to focus on my career and trying to improve my skills.”

Rose certainly likes the school as well, but was quick to point out he is also interested in all the other schools that have offered him.

“I like the school, SMU is definitely in consideration for me along with my other offers too,” Rose said.

Despite putting up over 200 yards this past weekend on just 14 carries, Rose said he is open to playing defensive back at the next level if it will get him on the field.

“I’m definitely open to going to DB, I’m trying to do whatever best suits me and if that’s DB then that’s where I’ll play,” Rose said.

In the coming months Rose will be taking visits to the schools that have offered him, as well as, hopefully checking out one of their games. This process is also likely to drag on for a while as Rose has another option he is also considering.

“It will probably be late because I’m also considering playing baseball too and whether I want to play that at the next level,” Rose said.

During his senior season, the 5-11, 165-pound athlete has been playing and starting both ways.

Larry Brown checks out 2017 point guard

By: Patrick Engel

One of SMU’s first stops when the recruiting period opened on Sept. 9 was Keller High School (Texas) to see 2017 combo guard R.J. Nembhard. Head coach Larry Brown and assistant K.T. Turner drove the 45 minutes to pay him a visit.

“They went to his workout and chatted it up with him a little bit after his workout,” R.J.’s father, Rueben, said. “It’s just general talk, ask him how he’s doing in school, is he excited about the school year, stuff like that. Nothing too detailed.”

SMU offered Nembhard in the spring and has been in consistent contact with him and his father since.

“They talk about the school as far as the academic piece. As everyone knows, it’s a great institution. It’s a small private school that’s close to home,” the elder Nembhard said. “That’s one of the big things they pitched to us as a family is the fact that he’ll be home and we can just role down the road for 45 minutes and watch him play in a great atmosphere.”

Nembhard has been to two games at Moody Coliseum and has checked out the campus, as well as built a strong relationship with him and his family.

“With that experience (seeing the campus and atmosphere), on top of that it’s close to home plus his conversations with Larry Brown, it’s an interest for him,” Nembhard said. “That’s just class A when you talk about coach Brown and his experience and what he brings to the table…At the same time, R.J. is a guard, coach Brown is a former guard and he’s big on developing guards, so you have to take that into consideration…I’m not going to speak for R.J, but what I can see and what I’m hearing from him, I believe that SMU will definitely be one of the schools in his top choices.”

But Texas and head coach Shaka Smart has also built a strong relationship since it offered in the spring.

“We’ve been down there a couple times and like what Shaka Smart is bringing on the table. R.J. likes that atmosphere also,” Nembhard said. “I’m going off the schools that are making contact with R.J. as far a head coaches. That’s what you have to go off of…Assistant coaches are recruiting and do and awesome job, but at the end of the day when you’re talking to the head man and he shows up, now you know it’s the read deal.”

Smart and Brown are the head coaches recruiting the most, but Nembhard said Oklahoma head coach Lon Kruger and Baylor head coach Scott Drew are starting to build relationships with the family too. Kruger came by school on the first day of the recruiting period. SMU, Texas, Oklahoma, Baylor, Oklahoma State, Kansas State, Nebraska, Texas A&M, TCU, Virginia Tech, Creighton and New Mexico have offered Nembhard, his father said.

Nembhard is Scout’s 85th-ranked player for 2017 and a four-star prospect. He is 6-foot-4 and 180 pounds.

2017 athlete plans SMU-UNT game visit

By: Demetrio Teniente

He may only have two offers right now, but it’s still early in the recruiting game fro 2017 Henderson athlete Trestan Ebner.

The 5-10 175 pound wide out/ defensive back holds offers from Kansas and SMU, but he says he’s getting a lot of attention from programs like Texas A&M, Alabama, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Oklahoma state. Ebneer expects A&M to pull the trigger at some point and offer him.

SMU was the second school to offer Ebner and defensive backs coach Jess Loepp has been contacting him as often as possible.

“We’ve been talking since they offered me over the summer,” Ebner said. “Loepp texts me all the time. I like him. He seems like a really laid back guy.”

Ebner is in the middle of his junior year and is doing everything he can to help his team win. With plenty of time between now and his high school graduation, he’s just going to sit back and wait for the offers to start rolling in.

“I would like to get more offers,” he says. “I just try not to think about it during the season. I’m just going to focus on the season.”

Still, he is managing to find some time for fun; this Saturday he will be making his way to Ford Stadium to watch SMU take on UNT.

“I just want to see the fan base,” he said. “I want to see if the team can fight through adversity and how the coaches play different situations.”

And as far as his expectations from a university, Ebner already knows what he wants in a program.

“I want to go to a team that has good team chemistry and plays together,” Ebner said, “And academic wise I want to study business and management.”

2017 point guard has SMU on his radar

By: Andrew Hattersley

It was a busy summer for 2017 Christ The King Regional HS (NY.) point guard Jose Alvarado as he caught the eye of many of the bigger coaches in the country with his play during the live periods.

“Really great for me, I felt like I did what I really had to do and there’s a lot more I still have to do, I’m looking forward to the regular season and working a lot on my game,” Alvarado said, “My recruitment went really well, I just got to be patient with it I felt like I improved and I got to talk to a lot of good coaches.”

The 6-0, 155-pound guard has been talking to VCU, St Johns, Indiana, Seton Hall, and St Louis among others the most but one notable exception is SMU.

“Not really, the assistant coach called me and told me they’re very interested and I need to come down to their school soon, so I’m going to come one of these weekends,” Alvarado said.

Alvarado admitted he doesn’t know much about SMU yet but plans to do some research on the school in the coming weeks.

“I haven’t really started looking into them as a school but SMU is a really good program, and a really good school, I just want to get down there and see the campus and stuff and see the culture and the coaching staff,” Alvarado said, “I don’t really know a lot about them because I haven’t really looked them up.”

The New York guard said he is going to try to make it down to SMU this year for a game likely on one of his official visits.

“I want to take a lot of unofficial visits during this school year and get a feel for them, the schools really are nice and I’m just probably going to take a lot of unofficial visits and save my official visits for my senior year,” Alvarado said.

Alvarado currently has offers from Georgia Tech, Indiana, Iona, Miami (FL), Seton Hall, SMU, St Johns and VCU.

Although he hasn’t learned much about the school yet, Alvarado has heard some intriguing parts about the school from the coaches.

“They told me it’s a good program, a lot of the coaches around tell you their program is good, but they told me I could go pro and I would be the perfect fit for them, and they just told me I’m a good player,” Alvarado said, “My thoughts are on if they are going to make me better and make sure they are doing their part.”

Badejo recaps SMU visit

By: Scott Sanford

2016 Mansfield Timberview (Tex.) outside linebacker Michael Badejo made the short trip to the Hilltop for the Mustangs’ season opener against Baylor.

The SMU commit arrived on campus nearly three hours before game time and immediately had the chance to walk on the field in Gerald J. Ford Stadium and visit with current players.

As game time approached and Badejo found his seat, the 6-foot-3, 220-pound Arlington native took notice of the incredible atmosphere.

“With all the fans in there making noise, I felt like I was on the field,” Badejo said. “I’m just so ready for it and I can’t wait until next year.”

The result of the game wasn’t what Badejo—or any SMU fan for that matter—wanted, but the energy and first half play was still encouraging for the senior.

After the game, Badejo spoke with Coach Morris, Coach Wyatt, Coach Craddock, and he even received a phone call from Mathis that night.

Coach Mathis talked with the linebacker about visiting again soon and maintaining his grades throughout the football season, but Coach Wyatt’s comments stood out to Badejo the most.

“Coach Wyatt pulled me to the side and said we’re going to really need you next year. We have three seniors graduating so it’s just going to be you and the sophomores and you’ll have a shot to play,” Badejo explained. “That really pumped me up.”

Badejo enjoyed his time so much; he plans on attending the Mustangs’ match up against North Texas on Saturday.

As for Badejo’s final high school season, the defensive end turned outside linebacker says he is adjusting nicely to his new position and enjoys having a little more freedom on the field.

Mansfield Timberview heads to Waco to take on Midway High School and fellow 2016 SMU commit Christian Davis.

2017 defensive back hearing from SMU

By: Matt Sanders

John Marshall (Okla.) 2017 cornerback Justin Broiles has had a slow recruiting process. But as his junior year has gotten underway, he has goals that will get him some well-deserved attention.

“I want to be the best player in the country, and I want to lead my team to a state title,” Broiles said.

To help make his goals become reality, Broiles is focusing on improving his attitude on the field.

“If there’s one thing I could change, it would be my work ethic,” he said. “I always told my coach ‘next year, next year’ but it’s finally next year, so I need to deliver.

Broiles currently holds offers from Tulsa and Arkansas State, but he is already building a relationship with SMU.

“I just got a letter from coach Loepp, and he was talking about how excited he was for me to visit. I’m coming to the Tulsa game on Halloween because both schools are looking at me,” Broiles said.

Along with SMU, Broiles is talking with schools like Florida, TCU, Notre Dame and Oklahoma, to name a few. However, Broiles has high regards for SMU.

“Right now, SMU is in my top 10,” he said. “I got to play there as a kid, so it is a possibility I would go there if offered.”

When it comes to what determines his college decision, Broiles looks at playing time as well as the academic quality of the school.

When figuring out what a possible commitment date would be, Broiles knows it will not be during the football season.

“I want to commit after football season, maybe at the Army All-American Game if I’m invited,” he said.

For the rest of his time in high school, Broiles wants to improve his study habits so he can be prepared for college.

By the time he graduates in two years, he believes SMU will be one of the best teams in the conference.

“By my graduation, I would like to see SMU really competing and making bowl games.”

2016 commit recaps SMU-Baylor game

By: Billy Embody

2016 SMU commit and Dallas Kimball defensive lineman Demerick Gary is just seeing his senior year get going, but took time to check out the SMU-Baylor game with his team playing the next day.

"It was live. I really like the atmosphere. I've never really seen SMU like that. It was a good game and at first, it was looking, but SMU had a couple bad mistakes that they capitalized on and made some big plays. Teamwise, they have a great future ahead this season and of course, in the near future."

SMU's fan base impressed Gary at the game and is ready to help the new era come together.

"It was a lot of Baylor fans, but SMU fans were really excited about the new era," Gary said. "It was turned up the entire game. There were some true SMU fans in the stadium when I was down on the field after the game. There was a lady that wouldn't leave until all the players came by and she had a throwback jersey on. At that moment, I knew there were still some fans that believe in SMU and really want to be a part of the rebuilding journey."

The new defensive scheme impressed Gary and in one area in particular was SMU's ability to rotate linemen.

"It really impressed me that first half because they didn't know what to expect from SMU and I didn't know what to expect from SMU," Gary said. "It was very impressive for the defensive line with a good rotation. SMU was killing them with the rotation."

Gary offered up some of his predictions for the rest of SMU's season.

"I think they got UNT. They held up with Baylor that first half and I think this week they focused on fixing those minor mistakes that could have had them win that game, but I think they got UNT and they're really going to dominate the conference. There's some pretty good teams, but I think SMU has them."

Buddy Wyatt and Van Malone talked with Gary on Wednesday night and Chad Morris talked with Gary right after the Baylor game.

"He (Morris) stopped what he was doing and talked to me and said to keep believing and that I'm 100 percent behind him. I know how the rebuilding process is and it's going to be up and down, but sticking behind your head coach and staff and to stick to their vision is what I'm doing at Kimball too."

Kimball takes on Arlington Sam Houston on Saturday so Gary can't make this week's matchup against North Texas, but he'll make it to the Homecoming. Gary has seen his senior year start a little slower than he wanted.

"It's been going good. I've had a slow start so I've got to pick it up this week," Gary said. "Most teams have been running away from me so I just got to adjust to that, but this week we're playing a team with good size and good players so I'm expecting them to run to my side."

The 2016 class keeps in close contact with each other and aside from Denton Ryan defensive tackle Ken McLaurin, Gary said he's happy with where the class is.

"We got the guys we really wanted and if we get some other guys, we'll keep on rolling and working on our bonds and relationships. We talk everyday and it gets stronger each and everyday."

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