Hoops season is upon us! Thank you, sports gods, for bringing us NCAA basketball so quickly.
In regards to SMU, we have seen a bunch of things happen since the end of last season- from Emmanuel Mudiay opting to play overseas for China to the introduction to the Varsity app.
With so many things going on and so many names being thrown around, you might not know what to expect from the Mustangs this season.
Lucky for you, I have spent an unhealthy amount of my spare time at practices, doing research and talking to players.
What follows is your very own guide to SMU men’s basketball 2014 team and what you can expect from them (in alphabetical order):
3- Sterling Brown
This summer, Brown spent some time overseas for the Global Sports Academy U.S. team’s 2014 Goodwill Tour. He got a chance to play games in Belgium, Germany, England and the Netherlands.
The time overseas certainly helped his confidence and he is plays with a bit more of an edge than he did last season.
One of the weakest areas on this roster is backup point guard. If you are at all familiar with this team you know who Nic Moore is and if not we’ll talk about him later, but he is the unquestioned starter.
However it really is up in the air as to who takes over when he comes out of the game.
Early on this season, I have seen head coach Larry Brown experimenting with Sterling Brown running the point.
Sterling is a shooting guard, but he is athletic enough that coach Brown can use him as a one, two, or even a three.
If Markus Kennedy (we’ll get to him later too) is ineligible this semester he will almost certainly be asked to play all three positions.
Last season, Brown started 26 games, and averaged 4.4 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 19.4 minutes in 37 appearances.
With the work he has done during the offseason, there is no reason his number shouldn’t go up- even if his minutes stay the same.
15- Cannen Cunningham
6’10” 225 lb
Cunningham has been a solid reserve for SMU for the past three seasons.
His defensive efforts have been his claim to fame while on the Hilltop; he is seventh al-time at SMU in blocks with 110 blocks and 9th all-time in blocked shot average (1.1).
Even if Kennedy is ineligible, he will remain mostly a spark player.
10- Kevin Dunleavy Jr.
6’2” 180 lb
Dunleavy scored the first points of his career last season and averaged about two minutes a game in his eight appearances.
I would be shocked if we saw anything different this season.
Don’t get me wrong, he certainly brings value to this team, but don’t expect to see him on the court every night and definitely not for extended minutes.
21- Ben Emelogu
6’6” 205 lb
When I talked about the back up point guard situation earlier, Emelogu factors into that uncertainty.
He is a transfer from Virginia Tech where he was a team captain as a freshman.
Coming out of South Grand Prairie high school, Emelogu was ranked by ESPN as the 56th shooting guard in the country.
Emelogu wasn’t expected to be eligible at the beginning of the season, but it turns out he is.
So now, coach Brown has another option at the one or two spots and based on a couple practices, it looks like he will be the first option to back up Moore- if he is healthy.
4- Keith Frazier
6’5” 190 lb
He’s hot and he’s cold.
Last season, you were never sure which Frazier would show up on a given night. In 36 appearances, he averaged 5.4 points, 1.8 rebounds, 0.9 assists, and 14.8 minutes.
As SMU’s first McDonald’s All-American he certainly has the potential to perform at a higher level, its simply a matter of consistency.
I don’t know what gets the best out of Frazier- maybe its the home crowd chanting “KIIIIIETH,” or getting him involved early.
Whatever it is, I’m sure coach Brown will figure it out. Last season, Frazier came off the bench.
This season, it looks like he will start in the backcourt along side Moore.
5- Markus Kennedy
6’9” 245 lb
Last season, Kennedy averaged 12.4 points, 7.1 rebounds, 1.2 blocks, 1.5 steals and 1.6 assists in 25.0 minutes per game in 37 appearances.
With another year under his belt in coach Brown’s scheme, he is expected to have a big year…that’s if he can find his way onto the court.
As of right now, Kennedy has not been ruled eligible for the 2014 season. If he is ineligible, he won’t be able to play during SMU’s non-conference games this semester.
Instead, he will have to try and become eligible so that he can play after the turn of the new year and help the Mustangs as they battle their conference foes.
1- Ryan Manuel
6’4” 185 lb
In 2014, he averaged 4.5 points, 2.3 rebounds and 0.9 assists in 17.2 minutes a game.
Last season he was Moore’s immediate back up, and had mixed success in the role.
With the arrival of Emelogu, and coach Brown’s experimentation with Sterling Brown a the back up one, Manuel could see his minutes drop.
20- Justin Martin
6’6” 205 lb
J-Mart is a big time forward from Xavier. Last season, he scored in double figures in 18 games.
Not to mention that 61 of those games were against BIG EAST opponents.
With all the pieces coach Brown already has, it will be interesting to see where J-Mart lands.
He certainly can be a major spark player coming off the bench, but we’ll have to see how he adjust to the new system.
0- Ben Moore
6’8” 205 lb
When I see Ben Moore, I see Shawn Marion.
This kid has the length, the size, the athleticism, and the ruggedness to be the versatile, shutdown defender Marion was/is in the NBA.
Moore got a chance to join Sterling Brown with the Global Sports Academy U.S. team this summer and just like Brown, he seems to have benefitted greatly from the experience.
There is a swagger about him on the defensive end these days, and there is a quite confidence that he can match up against anyone.
Moore can guard one through three easily, and might be able to match up with some smaller fours.
He’s also an efficient offensive player, and ranked fourth on the team in field goal percentage with 61.3 average.
11- Nic Moore
5’9” 170 lb
I don’t even know where to begin with Nic Moore.
I think I’ll just let his numbers and accolades speak for me: In 37 games, he averaged 13.6 points, 2.3 rebounds, 4.9 assists and 1.5 steals in 32.2 minutes. In the American Athletic Conference he was 15th in scoring (13.6), 15th in FG% (46.4), 2nd in assists (4.9), 6th in FT% (82.5), 2nd in 3PT FG% (43.6), 7th in 3PT made (1.9) and 4th in assist/turnover ratio (2.1)
He was also 57th in assists per game (4.9), 33rd in total assists (181) and 93rd in assist/turnover ratio in the country.
After SMU was snubbed from the national tournament, Moore shined in the NIT and was named to the All-Tournament Team,along with being named to the NABC District 25 First Team, USBWA All-District Team, American Athletic Conference First Team, and the American Athletic Conference Honor Roll eight times (11/18, 12/2, 12/9, 1/6, 2/3, 2/10, 2/17 and 2/24).
Expect more of the same from Moore this season.
What more can I say?
2- Yanick Moriera
6’11” 220 lb
I’m going to go ahead and say it: Moriera is going to be first team All-Conference this season.
This summer, Moriera played for the Angola national team in the 2014 FIBA World Cup in Spain.
He averaged 17.8 points, 8.2 rebounds, and had two double-doubles while shooting 59.4% FG in five games.
Oh yea, and he dropped 38 points and 15 rebounds on the Australian national team.
24- Jean-Micheal Mudiay
6’3” 200 lb
Played nine minutes last season. You can place him in the same category as Wilfong (see below), and Dunleavy.
All three are great guys, with strong work ethics- this roster is just too deep for them to see significant playing time.
22- Johnathan Wilfong
6’2” 185 lb
Okay, quick back story- I wrote a piece a couple weeks back saying that Wilfong looked really good and I took a lot of flak for it.
He is pretty much just like Dunleavy and won’t have too big of an impact this season, but he does look pretty dang good in practice.
I mean, dude is dropping dimes left and right. His effort is there, but his production rate just isn’t high enough to warrant more than a couple of minutes a game.
Don’t misunderstand, I’m a big fan of his, but I know he wont contribute a great deal in games.