Is SMU the favorite for 2017 forward?

2017 forward Everett Ray broke down his top schools with Pony Stampede and shared his decision timeline.

After sitting down with his mother and trainer, 2017 D1 Premier forward Everett Ray dropped his top six schools and included SMU along with Arkansas, Texas, TCU, Pepperdine and Stephen F. Austin. The future stretch four said that it was weighing a lot of different factors that are important to him when coming up with the list.

"We just listed the pros and cons. What head coaches I liked, academics, fit for me, style of play, how far away it is from home. Just a lot of general things," Ray said. "Recruitment has kind of blown up for me this summer so I just had a decision to make with multiple schools reaching out. It was also what schools were from the beginning and kept in touch."

While he wouldn't officially commit to naming a favorite, Ray said that he'd say SMU is one that truly stands out.

"Out of all of them, it's hard to say, but SMU holds a special place. Always has. Little nervous when coach Brown left, but coach Jank is a great guy and knows his stuff. At this point, I haven't really been on any big visits though."

The reasons are simple. SMU has won, fits him and has relationships there.

"Great program, winning program. Style of play fits me. I've already talked with coach Jankovich. I talked with Larry Brown before he left and coach KT. Great guys. They keep in touch with me and my family," Ray said. "Great academics. The atmosphere of SMU and it's just something about SMU that I've really liked. It's somewhere I've wanted to go for a while now. They're a big contender."

With Ben Moore set to graduate, SMU sees him as sliding right into that role with potential to play more on the wing.

"Stretch four. Inside and out. I've been told I'm a matchup nightmare. With guys that are bigger than me, I'm too quick for them, but guys that are smaller than me, I can take em low. I've also developed the athleticism to go out and guard. I'm trying to develop into a true three."

While he was nervous initially about SMU losing Brown, he recognizes Jankovich will be successful.

"He was under coach Larry Brown and he coached the team already and was successful with it. His style of play is quicker and faster than coach Brown. I love to get out and run. That's something that he told me he was going to incorporate, but while still being able to run a half-court set."

TCU is another program Ray included and would be excited about building that from the ground up.

"Growing program, which is also a benefit, where I could step in and be a leader and guide a program that hasn't been doing too great. Coach Dixon is a great coach and reached out to me a lot personally. It was really just me and him all summer."

Even though Arkansas and Texas haven't offered, both are still keeping in close contact so Ray wanted to show just how important the two programs are to him.

"They want me to come down and visit. They've kind of hinted that the offer is there for me. Love coach Smart. I think he's a great, great coach. It's a big place to play. I wanted to keep them in there as an option," Ray said. "Arkansas is coming down in a few weeks. They hadn't kept in touch as much, but it's just a good opportunity for myself and we'll see if they catch up."

Stephen F. Austin and Pepperdine both have impressed Ray as well.

"SFA's head coach is great. Love having conversations with him and my mom loves him. They're a program that has been successful and made the tournament two years in a row," Ray said. "Just a great school (Pepperdine). Their coaches have been recruiting me since last year so kind of honoring them and probably going to go out there. I've got a lot of good friends go there."

The 6-8, 220-pound forward said that while he'd like to decide by the early signing period, he thinks a December decision is more in the cards.

"It all depends on when I can make visits and things like that. I'd like to get it done soon, but obviously my mom is going to go with me so she's got to get off work."

This summer, Ray really showed his improvement to coaches and was excited about how far he's come, but also where he can go in the future.

"It was great. It was good for me. I just took the whole process as a humbling process because I was not experiencing this last year. It was great to see the hard work pay off. I've shown coaches I'm coachable, I can develop, there's a high ceiling for me. I just want to be great and I just need the tools."

Princeton and Yale are also on the outside looking in for Ray, but have been recruiting him hard for a while.

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