Welcome to The Sports Bank’s fourth annual college basketball season preview series where we break 111 teams in the 111 days leading up to the opening tip-off of the 2013-2014 season. We will rank the 84 power conference teams (including the new Big East and American Athletic Conferences) and top 27 mid-majors in reverse power ranking order. We’ll break down rosters, transfers, incoming freshmen, non-conference schedules, and pick a player to watch for each team.
Larry Brown and the SMU Mustangs made a huge splash when Emmanuel Mudaiy, one of the top recruits in the 2014 class, committed to the program. Brown definitely has Southern Methodist University heading in the right direction as they make the transition to the American Athletic Conference.
Last Season: 11th, 5-11 in CUSA, 15-17 overall
Predicted AAC Finish: 6th
Projected Depth Chart
C: Cannen Cunningham (Jr)/Yanick Moriera (Jr)
F: Shawn Williams (Sr)/Markus Kennedy (So)/Ben Moore (Fr)
G/F: Jalen Jones (Jr)/Keith Frazier (Fr)/Sterling Brown (Fr)
SG: Ryan Manuel (Jr)/Crandall Head (Jr)
PG: Nic Moore (So)/Nick Russell (Sr)
Gone: SG-London Giles, SF-Uche Ofoegbu, SG-Brian Bernardi (transfer-Hofstra), C-Jordan Dickerson (transfer-Penn State)
SMU returns all five starters from a year ago, gets three key transfers eligible, welcomes in a McDonald’s All-American, and adds a key junior college transfer. Translation; the cupboard will be far from bare for Brown as there should be competition for every starting spot this Fall.
In a unique situation, it will be interesting to see what happens at guard where Nick Russell and Ryan Manuel will be pushed for their starting spots. That duo combined to average 26 points per game but are no shoe-ins to start and will probably see their playing dip this year. That is because SMU brings in three talented guards.
Illinois State transfer Nic Moore is more of a true point guard than Russell who averaged nearly four turnovers a game last year. He played for associate head coach Tim Jankovich so that familiarity is a major benefit as well. Dallas native Keith Frazier and Illinois transfer Crandall Head are now in the picture on the wing. Frazier was a big time get for Brown since he is a high level recruit and dangerous all-around scorer while Head, a former top 100 recruit himself, is looking to revive his collegiate career after a disappointing two years with the Illini.
Versatile wing Jalen Jones led the Mustangs in scoring and rebounding a year ago and should be a lock for the starting five. He provides Brown with the flexibility to use a smaller, four-guard line-up or a longer look when he plays his more natural small forward spot.
The battle for the starting frontcourt spots are just as intriguing as the backcourt situation. Cannen Cunningham and Shawn Williams are the incumbent starters but former Villanova Wildcat Markus Kennedy and JUCO transfer Yanick Moreira are capable of stealing their spots. Cunningham and Williams are both inside/outside threats with Cunningham being a solid shot blocking presence on the defensive end. At 6-9, 265 pounds, Kennedy is a load in the paint and terror on the glass while Moreira was considered by many as the top junior college recruit in the country. All four guys are capable of winning a spot in the starting five.
Due to the influx of talent on the SMU Mustangs roster, all five starting spots are up for grabs. Brown will have a much deeper, more versatile team than a year ago and if the pieces come together; have the potential to be a dangerous sleeper team in the AAC.
Player to Watch: Keith Frazier
The McDonald’s All-American made a late decision in choosing to play for his hometown team. He has great size for the two guard position and a smooth outside stroke as well. With five experienced players already at guard, I’m curious to see how the old school Brown will utilize his talented freshman this year. He could be that x-factor that really helps SMU turn the corner.
Key Non-Conference Games:
11/29 vs. Virginia (Corpus Christi Challenge)
11/30 vs. Texas A&M/Missouri State (Corpus Christi Challenge)
TBD at Arkansas
OTHER 111 IN 111’S:
#72 Texas A&M
#73 Long Beach State
#76 Indiana State
#77 Georgia Tech
#84 Washington State
#86 Oregon State
#87 Louisiana Tech
#89 Wake Forest
#90 Central Florida
#95 Seton Hall
#97 George Mason
#99 Penn State
#101 West Virginia
#102 South Florida
#103 Mississippi State
#105 South Carolina
#106 Texas Tech
#108 Virginia Tech
David Kay is a senior feature NBA Draft, NBA, and college basketball writer for the Sports Bank. He also heads up the NBA and college basketball material at Walter Football.com and is a former contributor at The Washington Times Communities. David has appeared on numerous national radio programs spanning from Cleveland to New Orleans to Honolulu to Milwaukee. He also had the most accurate 2011 NBA Mock Draft and the most accurate 2012 NBA Mock Draft on the internet , AND the second most accurate 2013 NBA Mock Draft. (Yup, nearly 3peat champ… #humblebrag.)
You can follow him on Twitter at David_Kmiecik.Powered by Sidelines Follow paulmbanks