One of the better stories during the early part of the college basketball season has been the resurgence of SMU behind legendary 73-year-old head coach Larry Brown. Many scoffed at the notion that Brown — who hadn’t coached in the college game for more than two decades — could turn around a program that had so little going for it.
Following SMU’s big home win over UConn to re-open the renovated Moody Coliseum over the weekend, Brown spoke with Roger Rubin of the New York Daily News and provided some interesting insights on the rebuilding efforts at SMU.
When Brown took over the basketball program at SMU prior to last season, he wasn’t expecting the lack of support from local fans that he was initially facing.
“I didn’t realize the amount of apathy. People didn’t come to the games and didn’t seem excited about who we played,” Brown said to Rubin.
The UConn game was a big step in that equation as the Mustangs hosted their first sellout since 2001.
But maybe even more interesting is Brown comparing his rebuilding model to that of former Georgetown coach John Thompson. Brown sees similarities in the job at SMU to the job Thompson had rebuilding Georgetown when Thompson took over the Hoyas in 1972.
“I look at what he did at Georgetown and thought [sic] I know I am not John Thompson, I see there’s potential for the same thing here,” Brown said to Rubin. “We’ve got a good city. It’s a fine school in an improving (conference). There’s a lot of talent in the area.”
Brown has SMU playing pretty good ball at the moment and at 11-3, SMU is in position to potentially make its first NCAA Tournament since 1993. The win over UConn was the program’s first win over a ranked opponent since 2003.
Brown has some talented transfers like point guard Nic Moore and big man Markus Kennedy at his disposal this season and he’s also recruiting McDonald’s All-Americans like freshman Keith Frazier and current high school senior Emmanuel Mudiay.
It’s hard to say how long Brown will stay to see through the rebuilding effort due to his age and his reputation as a job jumper, but he’s certainly off to a good start at SMU and has the Mustangs in good position going forward.
Five-star point guard Trevon Duval is the most electrifying lead guard in the Class of 2017. The native of Delaware dominated the Under Armour circuit this spring and is currently regarded by many as a top-five player in the class by most recruiting services.
Now he’s down to 10 schools as his recruiting is starting to become more of a focus. The 6-foot-2 Duval is down to Arizona, Cal, Kansas, Maryland, Oregon, St. John’s, Seton Hall, UCLA, USC and Villanova.
Things are still early in the process for Duval and it will be interesting to see if he schedules any official visits soon.
Ohio State has lost quite a few transfers and hasn’t had a lot go their way with regards to recent recruiting, but things could be changing after a good weekend.
The Class of 2018 is starting to look really good for the Buckeyes as they landed commitments from wings Darius Bazley and Justin Ahrens this weekend. The two in-state products are grassroots teammates together on King James and they give Ohio State three commitments in that class.
Bazley is considered a four-star prospect on Rivals while Ahrens checks in as a three-star. They join another Ohio native, guard Dane Goodwin, in the class as this could be the group that helps bring Ohio State back in regular Big Ten contention.
Butler picked up an important commitment on Monday as four-star forward Kyle Young committed to the Bulldogs.
A Class of 2017 stretch forward who can hit jumpers and has an improving skill set, the 6-foot-7 Young comes from Massillon, Ohio and he’s regarded as the No. 109 overall prospect.
Young was impressive in the Nike EYBL this spring and summer with King James as he averaged 15.5 points, 8.0 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game as he shot 48 percent from the field and 36 percent from 3-point range.
This is a nice grab for Butler as Young is the type of versatile perimeter shooter that they like to utilize and he should be able to help a bit on the glass as well.
Young joins a class that includes guards Cooper Neese and Jerald Butler.
Earlier this summer, we told you the story of Collin Sexton, how the 6-foot-2 Georgia native went from being a mid-major recruit to a five-star prospect being courted by the likes of Kansas, Arizona, North Carolina and Villanova.
It’s because he’s a bucket-getter.
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He averaged 31 points in the Nike EYBL circuit, nine points better than Michael Porter, who finished second in the league in scoring. No one puts points on the board like he does, so it’s only fitting that he was the guy that made a shot from the balcony during ‘The Trip’, Nike’s effort to keep kids associated with their brand from Elite 24:
UCLA capped their three-game trip to Australia on Sunday night with a 94-91 win over the Brisbane Bullets, a game in which sophomore point guard Aaron Holiday finished with a team-high 17 points. Bryce Alford and Isaac Hamilton both added 16 points and freshman Ike Anigbogu finished with 13 points and 10 boards.
This win came just two days after the Bruins lost to Melbourne United, 89-84, when Hamilton — 18 points and five assists — and Holiday — 16 points — were both once again impressive. Alford also added 18 points in Friday’s loss.
It’s not surprising that the Bruins had some up and down performances abroad. Everyone does. It’s what happens when a team of college kids, with three freshmen playing key roles, heads to the other side of the world to square off against teams made up of professionals. Don’t go hanging the ‘Fire Steve Alford’ banners on anymore airplanes just yet.
There are, however, two interesting things to consider from this trip:
– Lonzo Ball, UCLA’s star freshman, was, at best, their fourth-best perimeter player. Seniors Isaac Hamilton and Bryce Alford and sophomore Aaron Holiday all played well and posted impressive numbers on the three-game trip. Ball? He didn’t shoot well. At all. In UCLA’s 47-point opening win, he was 3-for-9 from the floor and 1-for-3 from three, putting together was was by far his best shooting performance of the trip. In the three games, he shot a total of 25 percent (9-36) from the field and 19 percent (4-21) from three. He did average 5.0 assists and, in one game, notched 13 boards, but Ball’s ability to shoot will be something to keep an eye on.
– And then there’s this, from Bryce Alford:
UCLA needs to travel with more towels.