Matt Visinsky

Commitment Impact: Everett Ray

SMU landed its second 2017 commitment Thursday with forward Everett Ray’s pledge. PonyStampede breaks down his decision.

Background

Everett Ray is a three-star hybrid forward from the Dallas area. He’s the second commitment for SMU in the 2017 cycle, joining point guard Elijah Landrum. Ray picked SMU a few days after taking his official visit. Arkansas, Pepperdine, SMU, Stephen F. Austin, TCU and Texas made his final six, although Texas and Arkansas did not offer. He also had offers from Brown, Boise State, Houston and Utah State. SMU and TCU were two of the teams fighting hardest for him. Ray was planning to visit TCU later this month and SFA was also pushing for a visit. SMU had watched Ray periodically in the last year, but increased its interest since July. Ray had a strong spring and summer AAU season playing for Nike D1 Premier 210. 

Ray has had an unconventional high school career. Originally a part of the 2016 class, he’s a fifth-year high school player after reclassifying to 2017. After spending 2014-15 at Trinity Christian Academy (Texas), Ray is currently being homeschooled and played for CHANT (homeschool) last high school season. He is the son of former NBA center and assistant coach Clifford Ray. 

What SMU is getting

Ray’s decision to reclassify was not academic related. He had Ivy League offers and scored higher than 30 on his ACT. He reclassified to give himself more time to develop as a player. At the NBPA top 100 camp in 2015, he struggled. He didn’t have much attention from high-major colleges.

Since the start of the 2015-16 season, his game has developed considerably. A 6-foot-7 hybrid forward, Ray’s improved physicality and inside-out game have attracted high-major programs. He’s added muscle to his frame (up to 215 pounds) and has become a better shooter from mid-range and from beyond the 3-point line. Forwards with an inside-out game fit well in Tim Jankovich’s free-movement offense. He’s at his best on the wing, but can play more in the frontcourt as a face-up big man as well. Ray’s can handle the ball well for a forward, but he doesn’t have much of a back-to-the-basket game. 

Ray will join an SMU frontcourt full of similarly versatile players. Harry Froling is a more traditional big man, but can be a pick-and-pop type and hit jump shots too. Semi Ojeleye is more of a wing, but impressive athleticism and strength allows him to be effective in the post. 

What’s next for 2017

It’s no secret SMU needs big men in its 2017 class. Ray is a good start, but he’s not going to be the only big man SMU takes. Ideally, SMU wants to finish its fall signing class with a stronger, bigger forward who can play with his back to the basket.

Tulsa (Okla.) Union three-star forward/center Ethan Chargois is visiting SMU on an official starting Thursday. SMU already has his friend Landrum in the fold. Former SMU commit and Montverde (Fla.) four-star center Bruno Fernando is still an option after he reclassified to 2017. SMU visited Clinton (Miss.) center Galin Smith at school last week and he’s another name to monitor, although he doesn’t have an offer yet.

Overall

In Ray, SMU has a big hybrid wing who can shoot and handle. It’s a good recruiting win to get a top target over crosstown rival TCU, which is building momentum on the recruiting trail under new head coach Jamie Dixon and his staff April. TCU has already earned commitments from three four-star players since Dixon took over. With Ray in the fold, SMU now knows what it needs in its other big men in this class.


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