Pony Stampede Hilltop Review Aug. 19

Come inside an all-hoops edition of the Pony Stampede Hilltop Review with the latest SMU recruiting notes.

SMU after another Bolingbrook product

By: Patrick Engel

Four years after pulling forward Ben Moore out of suburban Chicago Bolingbrook (Ill.) High School, SMU is targeting a player from the school again: wing Nana Akenten. SMU started recruiting Akenten in June and sent assistant Jay Duncan to the NY2LA Sports Summer Jam in Milwaukee in July to watch his AAU team, the Illinois Celtics.

“They were at a couple of my tournaments toward the end of July. They had been in contact with my coaches more than me,” Akenten said. “I’ve been texting back and forth with one of their coaches, Jay Duncan.”

Akenten did not overlap in high school with Moore, but he said the two have worked out together and they talk when Moore is back in the area.

“I always work out with him when he’s back,” Akenten said. “I’ve been texting him and he checks up on me and stuff. For the most part, I wouldn’t say I watch all of their games, but I’m updated because I follow my coach on Twitter and he’s always updating all that stuff on there.”

On the court, the 6-foot-6, 200-lb. Akenten is a shooter with plus size and length on the wing.

“I think my advantage is my height,” Akenten said. “I can shoot really well from the perimeter and I can get the shot off at any time. And I feel like I’m a pretty good leader. I want to be that teammate that everyone wants to play with.”

SMU has only been recruiting Akenten for a couple months and he has not visited the school yet, but he has a good idea of what it can offer.

“I know they originally had a really good coach and they still have a really good coach,” Akenten said. “They just have a good program over there. The academics are outstanding. My basketball career would be pretty good if I go there and I’d have a good environment around me.”

Akenten has double-digit offers, including ones from Nebraska, Colorado State and Toledo. He said five schools are making the biggest push for him.

“I’d say Illinois State, Green Bay, SMU and UTEP have been on it a little harder than the other schools, NIU too,” Akenten said. “They’ve been trying to contact me every day, telling me how much they want me.”

Right now, Akenten has not released a list of top schools and has not set any visits or a decision timeline.

“I’m still keeping my options open. I haven’t made any decisions and I’m still interested in everybody,” Akenten said. “I just want to make sure I’m all in when I commit. I don’t want to end up regretting where I go. I want to be completely sure before making decisions.” 

Hoops Recruiting Notebook

By: Patrick Engel and Billy Embody

After a couple weeks of working sources and scavenging, here's a recruiting roundup of all things SMU hoops with a few extra tidbits on SMU's quest for what one source said should be a one guard, two big man class. SMU is expected to look for more of a change of pace type guard to balance what the team has with the likes of Shake, Dashawn, Tom and others. That can change though if the right guard comes along of course.

Guards/Wings

http://www.scout.com/player/200843-elijah-landrum

Top schools list: Florida International, SMU, Stephen F. Austin, Tulsa, VCU 

Real list: SMU and Tulsa

A smaller point guard at 6-0 170, Landrum is still a tough defender, adept passer and improving offensive game. In July, while helping MoKan Elite win the Nike Peach Jam, he showed off a more confident jump shot and proved capable as a lead guard with AAU teammate Trae Young off playing with Team USA. 

SMU and Tulsa have been after Landrum for over a year and are in the best position for his services. SMU has really turned up its interest in Landrum since Tim Jankovich took over as head coach in July. He is scheduled to take an official visit to SMU on Sept. 3 and will sign in the early period, though he is strongly considering waiting until November to commit to a school.

http://www.scout.com/player/190507-jordon-myers?s=357

Top schools list: SMU, TCU, Kansas State.

Myers is a name that has a lot of momentum behind it with multiple sources telling us that Myers could be on the verge of committing, but Myers himself wouldn't tip his hand to us much when asked. 

This is an under the radar kid that has a few big offers, but other than that, there's not much on him nationally. As SMU prioritizes targets, it'll be interesting to see when SMU allows him to visit as he could decide to end his recruitment on his visit. 

http://www.scout.com/player/210886-william-douglas?s=357

Top schools/real list: Alabama, Florida State, Memphis, others.

Not much is known yet about Douglas' recruitment, but one source said SMU will have plenty of competition for this one out of Memphis. Memphis, Alabama, Marquette and Florida State all jumped into the mix this summer. Douglas is another one of the bigger guards the staff is targeting and while SMU remains somewhat of long shot, Memphis is going to be coming hard after him.

http://www.scout.com/player/194235-cedric-russell

Top schools list: Houston, Louisiana Tech, Louisiana-Lafayette, LSU, Murray State, N.C. State, SMU, Texas Tech, VCU, Wyoming

Real list: Louisiana Tech, SMU, N.C. State, Texas Tech, VCU, Houston, ULL

A former LSU commit, Russell is a 6-1 combo guard who was viewed as more of an off-guard until this year, when he showed he could be more aggressive and did more than shoot 3-pointers. Russell a new name for SMU and newly hired assistant coach Shawn Forrest is recruiting him, just as he did at Louisiana Tech.

Russell will release a top five in the next couple weeks. SMU is expected to not only make it, but get a visit, a source told PonyStampede. He has not set any visits yet. An early October decision is possible.

http://www.scout.com/player/210940-darius-mcneill

Top schools list: Cincinnati, Connecticut, Florida, Iowa State, SMU, Texas

Real list: Iowa State (favorite), SMU and Cincinnati

McNeill is a 6-2 combo guard with a good jump shot and perimeter defense. He’s a newer name for SMU, which offered him after watching his AAU team in early July. He released a top 6, but three of the schools (Connecticut, Florida, Texas) have not offered. A source told PonyStampede that Texas is not likely to offer. McNeill has a visit set to Iowa State for Sept. 3 and the Cyclones are the favorites to land him. A source said that it’s very possible he commits on the visit, although he does have a visit to Cincinnati set for Sept. 15.

http://www.scout.com/player/201784-trent-frazier

Top schools list: Georgia, Kansas State, Illinois, Memphis, Rhode Island, Seton Hall, SMU, VCU

Real list: Illinois

The No. 74 player in the 2017 top 100, Frazier was always an extreme long shot for SMU and has had Illinois leading for quite a while. SMU assistant Shawn Forrest is still in contact, but Illinois has been recruiting him for over a year and made him a huge priority. He is scheduled to visit Illinois starting Aug. 19 and the visit ending with a commitment is very possible, according to IlliniInquirer.

Big Men

http://www.scout.com/player/189909-ethan-chargois

Top schools list: Colorado, Kansas State, Houston, SMU

Real list: Colorado, Kansas State, Houston, SMU

A burly 6-foot-8, 235-lb. stretch four, SMU offered Chargois after watching him at the Great American Shootout in Dallas in July. He was one of the first offers to go out after Jankovich was named head coach and is a good fit in the freer-moving SMU offense. 

Chargois got most of his high-major attention in July. All the aforementioned schools except Colorado offered in July, with the Buffaloes offering in April. He has set official visits to all four of them. Houston will get the first on Sept. 3, followed by SMU on Sept. 22, KSU on Oct. 7 and Colorado on Oct. 14. He’s still getting familiar with all of the schools since they are pretty new in his recruitment, so any one of his visits could swing him toward a particular school. Chargois told PonyStampede that his visits will be a huge factor, possibly the biggest factor, in his decision. He’s a priority target for SMU and close friends with Landrum.

http://www.scout.com/player/208192-fabian-white

Top schools list: Iowa State, Arkansas, SMU

White is another big man with SMU with plenty of interest from some big schools, but called SMU one of his leaders. He's probably stacked behind Chargois at the moment, but one of the really good Ben Moore type replacements for the team.

http://www.scout.com/player/201812-bruno-fernando

Our old friend Bruno Fernando! SMU is still hot on the trail for Fernando with great relationships here and although his handlers are a pain, SMU feels like they're in a good spot to land Fernando again. It's on him to do the academic work to make it happen. SMU is a real player here though.

Eliminated SMU

http://www.scout.com/player/207877-savion-flagg

Top schools list: Florida, LSU, Miami (Fla.), N.C. State, Northwestern, Oregon, Texas, Texas A&M

Flagg left SMU out of his top eight, which is not a surprise. SMU stopped recruiting him in the spring, long before he released his top list earlier this month. 

http://www.scout.com/player/208046-jase-febres

Top schools list: Baylor, Houston, Stanford, Texas, Texas A&M

SMU watched Febres multiple times in the spring and summer evaluation periods, but never offered. When SMU first watched him, he had mid-major offers. He had a huge July playing for Texas PRO, where he picked up loads of high-major interest and offers. He already visited Texas A&M and has visits set to the other four schools.

Staff Notebook

A few tidbits on staff:

  • Expect all the staff moves to become official in the next week or so.
  • SMU has hired Shawn Forrest as we know from La. Tech. He was previously at LSU and North Texas. He'll bring a strong knowledge of the area and is well-respected around the scene in Texas. He's landed some big fish and everyone on the staff is excited to have him on board.
  • Jay Duncan's promotion will become official here shortly as well giving you your assistants: KT Turner (associate head coach promotion), Forrest and Duncan.
  • Jerry Hobbie will move into an administrative role.
  • Overall, the chemistry on this staff is much better with the changes. Like I mentioned in the podcast, it's not about who's landing who, but about landing great players so the staff can keep this train going.
  • Expect the board to be finalized in the next week or so and visits will continue to be set. 

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