2017 SMU basketball recruiting big board 1.0

PonyStampede's Patrick Engel breaks down how SMU is trending with its basketball recruiting targets as official visit season starts.

SMU's recruiting board is set and a lot of its targets have scheduled official visits to the school. SMU is without a 2017 commit, but only four AAC teams have a 2017 player committed. The goal is to sign a three-man class this fall that consists of two big men and a guard.

Here is a breakdown of the players the Mustangs are targeting, players that are secondary options and previously offered players who are no longer interested in nor being pursued anymore by SMU.

Guard – the targets:


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

Official visits: SMU Sept. 1, VCU Sept. 16, SFA Sept. 19

A smaller point guard at 6-0 170, Elijah 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. 

Tulsa was thought to be the leader for Landrum for a while. That talk has since abated, but the Golden Hurricane are still a player. VCU and SFA are long shots for him. He does not have a visit set up to Tulsa – the Golden Hurricane staff feels that it has nothing left to show him. Landrum ideally would watch some practices and games before making a decision, but with the signing period starting earlier than usual, that may not be possible. There’s a decent chance Landrum ends his recruitment this weekend and commits to SMU on his visit.

Memphis (Tenn.) Christian Brothers CG William Douglas

Top schools list: Alabama, Florida State, Marquette, Memphis, Ole Miss, Oregon, SMU, TCU, UNLV

Douglas was a big riser this summer, when Alabama, Florida State, Marquette and Memphis jumped in and started recruiting him. He’s one of the bigger guards that SMU is pursuing. The Mustangs may not end their pursuit of him even if they get another guard to commit first. He’s more of a combo and off-guard so he’d give SMU some diversity of skills if he were to join Landrum in the backcourt. He’s going to visit in late September, but a date is not finalized yet. SMU is going to need him to make it through other visits uncommitted. Ole Miss is on his list to visit.


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

Official visits: not set yet

A former LSU commit, Cedric 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 is a new name for SMU and newly hired assistant coach Shawn Forrest is recruiting him, just as he did at Louisiana Tech. He has set in-home visits with Louisiana-Lafayette, Louisiana Tech, Texas Tech and VCU, with others still to be set up. Richmond did not make his original list, but has reached out to inquire about an in-home. Russell will do some in-home visits (first day for them is Sept. 9) and then decide on officials. SMU is still pursuing him.


Top schools list: Green Bay, Illinois State, Northern Illinois, SMU, UTEP

Official visits: not set yet

Nana Akenten comes from the same high school as current SMU forward Ben Moore. He started to get high-major attention this summer, which is when SMU offered. He’s a shooter with size (6-6, 200). SMU isn’t really targeting wings right now, but Akenten is an exception. He told PonyStampede that Illinois State, Green Bay, Northern Illinois, SMU and UTEP have been showing consistent interest, but he did not have any visits set up and may wait until the spring to commit.


Top schools list: Baylor, Louisiana Tech, LSU, N.C. State, SMU, TCU, Texas A&M

The top shooting guard in Louisiana, SMU is recruiting Josh Anderson as a point guard. He’s going to be a tough pull, but recently told PonyStampede's Billy Embody that he’s likely going to make a spring decision. SMU’s guard spot for the fall could fill up, but with any spring attrition, Anderson could be an ideal replacement. He’s a talent worth making room for in the class the spring. SMU has time to build the relationship here.

Guard – on the backburner/leaning elsewhere:


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

Official visits: Iowa State Sept. 3, Cincinnati Sept. 15

Three of Darius McNeill’s top six (UConn, Florida, Texas) have not offered, and a source told PonyStampede that Texas and UConn are not likely to offer. Iowa State is the favorite to land him and there's a chance he commits on the visit, but he could still take some other visits before making a decision. If he does, Wake Forest and SMU have a chance at getting visits.


Top schools list: Grand Canyon, La Salle, Rhode Island, SMU, Seton Hall, Western Kentucky

Official visits: Western Kentucky (already taken), La Salle Aug. 31, Rhode Island Sept. 8, Grand Canyon Sept. 16, SMU Sept. 23

Daron Russell, a 5-foot-10 Philadelphia native, had an impressive summer playing for Team Final. He already took an unofficial to Grand Canyon, where his brother, DeWayne, is the starting point guard. He didn’t include Seton Hall on his official visit list, but said he will visit unofficially in September. He might not make it to his SMU official before committing elsewhere.


Top schools list: Alabama, Baylor, Georgia Tech, Houston, Oklahoma, Oregon, SMU, USC, Western Kentucky

Official visits: none set

SMU offered Jay Jay Chandler more than a year ago, but has recently backed off him. He told PonyStampede he is hearing the most from USC, Georgia Tech, WKU, plus two schools not on his original top nine: Georgia and Virginia Tech. He said the WKU is making the hardest push out of all the schools. He has a strong relationship with Hilltoppers head coach Rick Stansbury, who has already landed one top-level player in five-star center Mitchell Robinson.


Official visits: Texas State Sept. 9, Sept. 29

Shelby Adams picked up an SMU offer in July. SMU is his highest-profile offer on a list than includes Lipscomp, Northern Colorado, Sam Houston State, Texas State and UTSA. He’s more of a shooting guard because he’s not a great handler or creator, but he has a good feel for the game. The 6-foot-3 guard is not going to shoot the 3-pointer much and is best when going to the rim. He’s a lower priority for SMU and is best suited as a mid-major player, but Tim Jankovich likes him.


SMU offered local product C.J. Roberts long ago, but backed off in recent months. He’s capable of being a high-major player and Missouri has made a push for him recently. He will likely decide in the fall and sign in November.


SMU has been on Jordon Myers for about two years, but he has not been a top priority. He was highly regarded as a freshman and sophomore, but didn’t develop quite as expected as he got older, according to a source. If SMU were to have him visit and increase its interest in the 6-foot-4 Myers, another source told PonyStampede that he’d be very interested. That’s unlikely to happen at this time though.


Top schools list: Memphis, SMU, TCU, Tulsa, USC

Originally a 2016 North Texas commit, Curtis Hollis reclassified to 2017. The Mansfield product wants to enroll at a college in January. He’s a good athlete and effective in transition with a jump shot sprinkled in. SMU has been in touch for a more than a year, but hasn’t recruited him overly hard.

Big men – the targets:


Top schools list: Alabama, Arizona State, Auburn, Georgia, Mississippi State, Missouri, SMU, Texas A&M, Vanderbilt

Official visits: Texas A&M (Sept. 1), SMU (Sept. 8), others to follow

SMU offered Garrison Brooks in August and did well to get him on a visit. He took an unofficial visit to Arizona State, which covets him. The key for SMU will be him getting through his A&M visit without committing. If SMU gets him on campus, it can make an impression on him despite being a newer name into the race for his services. SMU’s selling point to Brooks will be that he can play a lot of minutes right away as SMU’s only true center and SMU’s history of using highly regarded freshman a lot early in their careers.


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

Official visit: Houston Sept. 3, SMU Sept. 22, KSU Oct. 7, Colorado Oct. 14

A burly 6-foot-8, 235-lb. stretch four, SMU offered Ethan 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. Any one of the visits could swing Chargois, who is close friends with Landrum.


Top schools list: Arkansas, Boise State, Iowa State, Houston, Memphis, SMU

Official visits: Houston 9/3, Boise State 9/10, SMU 9/17, Iowa State 9/30

Fabian White is a face-up four who’s a strong rebounder and can step out for a jump shot. White called SMU one of his leaders and he has a strong relationship with Shawn Forrest. Houston is a player in his recruitment and he likes Kelvin Sampson, but SMU has a good chance at landing White. While the coaches would ideally sign a back-to-the-basket big man and a face-up/stretch man, one source said that if a big man is interested and wants in, it’s wise to take him because of SMU's need there.


Top schools list: Arkansas, Pepperdine, SMU, Stephen F. Austin, TCU, Texas

Official visits: SMU Sept. 22

A fifth-year high school senior, Everett Ray has moved around a few high schools. This summer with Nike D1 Premier 17U, Ray impressed and earned some high-major attention. One source told PonyStampede he’s a late bloomer and did not look great at a couple camps in 2015, but improved a lot in 2016. He’s not a back-to-the-basket player and is more of a four, but is still physical, has a face-up game and can step out to shoot. 

Ray may not be quite as skilled as White, Chargois or Fernando, but he’d be a solid high mid-major player. He told PonyStampede’s Billy Embody that SMU is one of his leaders and he is planning a later decision, but if he likes his official to SMU and there is space for him in the class, it wouldn’t surprise if he committed. He also took an unofficial to SMU on Aug. 29. Arkansas and Texas have not offered him yet. If Brooks does not commit to SMU before Ray, White and Chargois visit, SMU will take two of those three. Given the need for big men in the class, it’s likely first-come, first-serve for the spots.


A former SMU commit who had to reclassify down to 2017, Bruno Fernando is still on SMU’s radar. A true center and a very good defender, Fernando could wait until the spring to make a decision. He still has strong relationships with SMU’s staff, but he has to do the academic work and SMU has to get through his handlers. One source told PonyStampede’s Billy Embody handlers are the big obstacle to SMU landing him.

Big men – on the backburner/leaning elsewhere:

Sunrise Christian Academy (Kan.) PF Derrick Walker

Top schools list: Akron, Ball State, Oral Roberts, SMU, UIC, Wichita State

Official visits: Ball State, UIC, others TBD

Walker doesn’t have elite offensive skills, but he’s a grinder who does dirty work on the glass, on defense, and on screens. He’s more of a mid-major prospect, but he’d be a solid bench big man and role player at SMU. He’s interested in SMU, but there are higher priorities on the board to exhaust first. His former AAU coach with MoKan Elite, Rodney Perry, just joined the staff at Oral Roberts and he’s close with Walker. He could be committed elsewhere by the time SMU would need to increase its pursuit of him.


Sandro Mamukelashvili lived in the Middle Eastern nation of Georgia for 14 years and emerged at the Nike Skills Academy earlier this summer. His coach told Scout's Evan Daniels that Arizona State, Gonzaga, Vanderbilt, Louisville, South Carolina and SMU have reached out. SMU has not offered yet and assistant coach Shawn Forrest has been talking to him.


Official visits: Marquette Sept. 9, Minnesota Sept. 23, St. Louis Sept. 30, Seton Hall TBD

SMU offered French in July, but there hasn’t been much interest since. He was going to be a long shot to pull from the East Coast and to a league that doesn’t play a lot of games in that region.

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