SMU's 2015-16 season is upon us so I decided to take a look at the roster makeup for the team now, how the freshmen are adjusting, how the two committed guards fit in going forward, and what big men targets SMU is looking it.
The current roster is loaded. Everyone knows that so I won't spend too much time on it, but it's an indication of how the staff wants to build going forward. There's length and athleticism like SMU hasn't had under Larry Brown.
By adding the likes of Shake Milton, Jarrey Foster and eventually Semi Ojeleye, the roster adds incredible length and athleticism. Couple that with Sedrick Barefield as a contributor off the bench at times to spell Nic Moore and learn, the roster is finally looking how the staff wants it.
The staff absolutely covets the following: length, athleticism, ability to handle and play two to three positions.
With Nic Moore, Shake Milton and Sedrick Barefield operating the point and at times the two (and Shake at the three even), SMU has three sure ball-handlers and a trio that can hit jumpshots with consistency.
Sterling Brown, Ben Emelogu, Keith Frazier and Jarrey Foster all fit at the two and three more so with Brown and Foster even seeing time at the four along with Ben Moore. You might say SMU has a bit of a logjam in these two spots, but that's completely okay. They can all run the floor, guard with length and shoot.
Your true big men with Moore include Semi Ojeleye (can play three too), Markus Kennedy and Jordan Tolbert. That's solid athleticism in the posts and while the team lacks a true rim protector like Yanick Moreira and Cannen Cunningham could provide, Kennedy and Tolbert will do just fine with the physicality and athleticism to affect shots.
Sources on staff have been absolutely amazed by how the team has responded to the NCAA sanctions. The attitude is certainly "win every game and show people who we are." That's exactly the attitude to have in this situation.
The roster for SMU this year needs a consistent rotation, which will be worked out in the non-conference slate, but when it is, SMU will be tough to stop due to its length and athleticism at every position.
Sedrick Barefield: After reports coming out that Barefield struggled a bit this summer, he has shaken that and appears to be doing better according to sources. "He's a point guard playing for Larry Brown. He's got some things to learn," one source said. That's expected. Barefield can shoot and they love the way he can handle the ball. He will be a four-year quality guard for SMU without a doubt.
Shake Milton: Milton has displayed everything to make sources believe Milton will be a three-year star for the team if he doesn't break out this year. Milton is a better shooter than Emmanuel Mudiay, one source said. Milton doesn't have the athleticism Mudiay has, but a good comparison would be "Mudiay-lite," which is something I have mentioned before. Milton can defend all three positions on the perimeter, which will get him into the rotation early and often. Milton has been a quick-learner and has been glued to Nic Moore's side. That's a great sign for SMU's likely backup point guard.
Jarrey Foster: He's a total athlete playing basketball with one source saying if he's not 100 percent yet, the staff can't really tell. He's got an incredible amount of athleticism. Comparisons have already been made to Sterling Brown and Ben Moore, who can play the two to the four. Foster is said to be able to shoot the ball extremely well and absolutely be able to defend 1-5 if need be. Foster's biggest attribute: "He's a winner. He's got that swagger," one source said. If SMU plans to continue its recent run of success, Foster will do a great job of setting the tone.
***MCDOWELL AND WILSON UPDATE***
Both Dashawn McDowell and Tom Wilson are guards with length, but bring two different things to the table. McDowell is absolutely a lockdown defender and Wilson does a solid job there too. McDowell is more of a distributor while Wilson is a shooter. Both have solid enough handles for SMU to trust them with the point guard spot.
Handles is one of the things SMU covets of course so it's no surprise there that these were targeted. When people ask, are they points or shooting guards, it really is a toss-up for SMU going forward. The reason why SMU took another guard is that both can play 1-3 so as they build this roster, that's what they look for.
Don't look at this roster anymore and say, "wow that's a lot of point guards," because that's not how it's going to work. Will there be a primary ball handler? Yes, but everyone has to be trusted with the ball in Brown's system and that's why they look for players who can run the point if need be.
Tim Jankovich was the lead for Wilson's recruitment. A lot will point to Jay Duncan's Australian roots, but one source assured me that it was Jank logging the long hours on Wilson's recruitment and made the biggest impression on him. All the credit from the staff for Wilson will go to Jank.
***BIG MAN UPDATE***
SMU has offered a new big man, Bourama Sidibe, out of St. Benedict's Prep. That's not a sign the staff isn't confident in its ability to land Harry Froling or Bruno Fernando. Both are the top two targets in the 2016 class at the position.
Sources feel great about where they're at for both and believe that its a matter of who will commit first. Don't be surprised if Tim Jankovich is back in Australia sooner rather than later to try and close the deal. Read into that what you will.
Froling said that SMU hasn't recruited him as hard as other schools, but with everything going on, that's somewhat expected. Another thing to expect: SMU's final piece will be a foreign player. All three above hail from outside the U.S.
Fernando's respect for Moreira and Froling's relationship with Wilson figure to play big roles down the stretch. Both are taking their time, but both are major targets and SMU fans should feel good about where they're at for both.
Sources are also optimistic about SMU's ability to win the appeal on scholarships and other recruiting restrictions. If the appeal goes right, SMU might take a second big man in 2016, but for now, they're targeting taking one.