As if the 2015-16 season wasn’t going to be tough enough for SMU as they’re sitting out postseason play as a result of an NCAA investigation, the program announced Wednesday that one of their guards will undergo season-ending knee surgery.
Junior Ben Emelogu won’t be available for the Mustangs this season, leaving Larry Brown’s team a guard short as they begin the regular season Friday against Sam Houston State. Emelogu, who began his career at Virginia Tech, played just over 15 minutes per game and made four starts in 2014-15. Minutes likely would have been tough to come by again this season, with the Mustangs have a host of options on the wings.
Included in that mix are juniors Sterling Brown and Keith Frazier and freshmen Shake Milton and Jarrey Foster. Emelogu will have two seasons of eligibility remaining after sitting out the 2015-16 campaign.
On Friday afternoon, SMU received word that Virginia Tech transfer Ben Emelogu had been granted a waiver by the NCAA and would be eligible to play this season.
Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports first reported the news, which was later confirmed by the SMU basketball Twitter account.
In 22 games at Virginia Tech, the 6-foot-6 wing averaged 10.5 points and 3.1 rebounds per game while shooting 37 percent from three. He left the program in July, months after head coach James Johnson was relieved of his duties. Ten days later, he landed at SMU.
“He’s just a really solid player,” Brown told reporters on Friday. “He can play multiple positions. He’s tough. You’re a captain as a freshman of a major college, an ACC program, that speaks volumes to the character and leadership qualities. I think now he knows he can play, he’ll make huge steps in that regard.”
From a leadership aspect, SMU is looking to fill the void left behind by graduating seniors Nick Russell and Shawn Williams, both of whom started 36 of 37 games for the Mustangs last season. So adding a player who was named captain of his previous school before ever playing a college game can certainly help in that department. On the floor, SMU dealt with Emmanuel Mudiay’s decision to play professionally in China during the middle of the July live period, leaving little to no room to recruit another guard, none of whom would have had the impact of the No. 2 overall recruit in the Class of 2014.
Emelogu is the second transfer to be immediately eligible to play at SMU this season. In the spring, Xavier wing Justin Martin enrolled at SMU and under the graduate transfer rule is allowed to play in his final season without sitting out the year.
SMU opens the season on Nov. 14 against Lamar at Moody Coliseum, three days before a huge non-conference game on the road against Gonzaga.
Ben Emelogu has found a landing spot.
The 6-foot-5 guard from Texas committed to SMU Monday afternoon, according to multiple reports. He announced that he would be leaving Virginia Tech earlier this month.
Emelogu averaged 10.5 points and shot 37.0% from three as a freshman. He will have to sit out the 2014-2015 season, but he will have three seasons of eligibility remaining beginning in 2015.
While the 2013-14 season was a difficult one for Virginia Tech, with the Hokies winning just nine games and head coach James Johnson being fired, one of the positives was the year put forth by guard Ben Emelogu. Emelogu posted averages of 10.5 points and 3.1 rebounds per game, and he was even named team captain before having played a game in a Virginia Tech uniform.
Even with the coaching change that led to Buzz Williams arriving in Blacksburg, the skill and maturity were two attributes that made it seem as if Emelogu would be a part of the picture moving forward.
However that reportedly will not be the case, with Mike Barber of the Richmond Times-Dispatch reporting that Emelogu has left the Virginia Tech program. According to the report Emelogu hasn’t been with the program this summer, and his departure makes him the fourth player to leave the program since the end of the season.
Guard Marshall Wood (transferred to Richmond) and centers Maurice Kirby (Coffeyville (Kan.) CC) and Trevor Thompson (Ohio State) are the others.
Four perimeter players (seven newcomers overall) have joined the Virginia Tech program since Williams was hired, freshmen Justin Bibbs, Ahmed Hill and Jalen Hudson and Maryland transfer Seth Allen (he won’t be able to play this season).