(Photo credit: McDonald's All-American Game)

Emmanuel Mudiay hopes to push SMU into next year’s NCAA Tournament

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(Photo credit: McDonald’s All-American Game)

CHICAGO — The 2014 McDonald’s All-American roster is littered with great players going to the usual blueblood programs of college basketball.

Kentucky and Duke are adding four McDonald’s All-Americans each while traditional basketball powerhouses like North Carolina (3), UCLA (2), Kansas (2) all add multiple players as well in the 2014 edition of high school basketball’s elite all-star game.

But very quietly in Dallas, Larry Brown is getting blue-chip players at a yearly rate. After adding current freshman wing Keith Frazier last year coming off of a McDonald’s All-American Game appearance, the Mustangs will welcome 6-foot-4 guard Emmauel Mudiay into the fold next season.

The current McDonald’s All-American — and native of Dallas — attends Prime Prep in Texas and opted to stay home and play for Brown, even though nearly every school in the country desired his services. As the No. 2 player in Rivals.com’s 2014 rankings, Mudiay is a major impact get for a team that is right on the cusp of a NCAA Tournament appearance.

In the end, the experience of Brown and his championship pedigree won out for Mudiay.

“Larry Brown, he’s the only coach ever to win an NCAA Championship and NBA championship, so why not get coached by one of the greatest coaches that’s ever coached this game,” Mudiay said to NBCSports.com.

SMU hasn’t been a traditional basketball power, but Mudiay is up to the task of being the local superstar that helps build the Mustangs up. SMU was ranked in the top 25 the final week leading up to the 2014 NCAA Tournament but missed the Field of 68 after a first-round AAC Tournament loss to Houston as one of the last bubble teams left out of the field.

Currently, SMU is making a run in the NIT and they’ll face Minnesota for the NIT title at Madison Square Garden.

“I know it’s going to take a lot of work. I love challenges, that’s part of the reason I picked there,” Mudiay said of SMU. “I’m not the type of person that just picks a school for the name. I feel like some people do that. It’s fine with me. I feel like once you bring Larry Brown’s name into it, it shuts everybody up. This year they had one of the best years they’ve ever had, they didn’t make the tournament, but they’re doing their thing in the NIT.”

With the addition of a player like Mudiay, it could really push SMU over the top in the American Athletic Conference next season. The Mustangs are going to have high hopes next season as Mudiay joins talented sophomore guard Nic Moore in the backcourt. Mudiay said he and Moore talk regularly about playing with each other next season.

“I feel like we can both alternate (guard spots) because he can score the ball too,” Mudiay said. “I’m going to play on-the-ball some, I’m going to play off-the-ball some, so it’s going to be fun. We talk all the time, every time I go watch them play. He tells me all the time, and I tell him, that we can’t wait to play with each other. Just how Shabazz (Napier) and (Ryan) Boatright play, something like that. We can be a two-guard front.”

While the Mustangs have changed from pretender to contender under Larry Brown, Mudiay has also noticed a revitalized fan base down in Dallas since last season. The guard broke down the difference between SMU’s old building and the newly renovated Moody Coliseum.

“The fan base there is crazy now. It’s really fun to go to the games and how loud it is. It’s going to be really fun,” Mudiay said. “I remember last year I went to a game against Memphis on one of my visits and you could literally change seats every two minutes because it was so empty. But this year it was standing room only. The Moody Coliseum is definitely crazy.”

The new atmosphere in Moody Coliseum and the push to be a good basketball program has also had a noticeable affect on recruiting, according to Mudiay.

“I think a lot of people are surprised by how (SMU) is now and they have to take (SMU) into consideration,” Mudiay said. “I know Sedrick (Barefield) committed in 2015, so he sees what I see (in SMU). I’m definitely happy it’s starting to get people’s attention.”

Akron reveals special bobble heads for LeBron, high school teammates

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When it comes to discussing some of the game of basketball’s best players, specifically those who went directly from high school to the NBA, a question that’s often asked is where said player would have attended college if forced (by rule) to do so. Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James are among those who have been discussed in this manner, and in the case of LeBron he’s got connections to two programs within his home state of Ohio.

LeBron’s connected with the Ohio State program, which is outfitted by the Nike’s LeBron signature line, but there’s another program with an even closer connection. That would be Akron, which is led by head coach Keith Dambrot, and all he did was serve as LeBron’s high school coach at St. Vincent/St. Mary’s HS in Akron during the player’s freshman and sophomore years at the school. Also on those teams were two future Akron Zips in guard Dru Joyce and forward Romeo Travis.

Thursday the school announced that it would be honoring James, Joyce and Travis with bobble head dolls to be given out before Akron’s home games against Buffalo (February 16; Joyce’s bobble head), Bowling Green (February 26; Travis) and Ohio (March 1; James).

All three bobble head dolls are wearing Akron uniforms, which in the case of LeBron allows fans to think back and imagine what could have been. Season ticket holders guaranteed one bobble head per account (on each of the three giveaway days), with the first 750 fans in attendance to receive one as well.

NEW PODCAST: Indiana, Cal, troublesome trends and a weekend preview

California's Jabari Bird celebrates a score against Oregon in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Thursday, Feb. 11, 2016, in Berkeley, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
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The gang is back together again for another episode of the NBCSports.com College Basketball Talk Podcast, with Rob Dauster hosting and Raphielle Johnson and Scott Phillips joining him. Today’s episode touched on big wins picked up Thursday night by California and Indiana, discussing the performances of those teams and also touching on their prospects down the line.

Also discussed were the recent performances of Iowa State, Providence and Texas A&M (which are you more worried about?), and some of the top games on this weekend’s schedule headlined by Kansas visiting Oklahoma. And if you’re a fan of seafood, you may take umbrage with some of Rob’s comments at the beginning of the podcast.

As always, you can subscribe to the podcast on either iTunes or Stitcher, and there’s also a link to listen to this podcast below. Thanks for listening.