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.
SMU landed its second commitment in the Class of 2016 Wednesday afternoon, as 6-foot-3 shooting guard Tom Wilson made his pledge to Larry Brown’s program. News of Wilson’s commitment was first reported by Fox Sports Australia, and he joins fellow guard Dashawn McDowell in the Mustangs’ 2016 class to date.
Wilson, who is a scholarship athlete at Basketball Australia’s National Centre of Excellence in Canberra, has plenty of international experience as he served as captain for Australia’s U17 and U19 national teams. At this summer’s FIBA U19 World Championships, Wilson averaged 6.4 points, 4.4 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game.
And in Olgun Uluc’s story on Wilson’s commitment, SMU’s newest recruit spoke about the opportunity to play for Brown and the fact that Brown coached one of his favorite players.
Wilson noted his admiration for Iverson, with his time watching the legendary shooting guard also an introduction to his new head coach.
“I was a big Allen Iverson fan growing up, so I watched all of his documentaries and I knew who Larry Brown was for quite a while, probably since I was 11 or 12 years old,” Wilson said.
“I know Larry’s a guy that, wherever he is, he’s been able to win, and he takes a winning culture wherever he goes. I think the most exciting thing for me is the fact that I get to play under a coach who’s coached the likes of Allen Iverson.”
SMU has just one senior in its current perimeter rotation in Nic Moore. With three juniors and three freshmen making up the rest of the current backcourt, Wilson and McDowell’s fight for minutes as freshmen won’t be an easy one. SMU, which is banned from postseason play this year due to NCAA rules violations, won’t have that issue when Wilson arrives on campus next year.
Last month the NCAA announced that due to rules violations found in their investigation of the SMU men’s basketball program, the team would be banned from postseason play in 2015-16 and head coach Larry Brown would be suspended for the first nine games of the 2015-16 season. With a team led by seniors Nic Moore and Markus Kennedy and just one player (Keith Frazier) being the subject of the investigation, it was assumed that SMU would at the very least appeal the postseason ban.
Friday, the school announced that while it will appeal some of the penalties handed down by the NCAA to the men’s basketball and men’s golf programs they will not appeal the postseason ban or Brown’s suspension.
“After careful consideration, however, we will not appeal the NCAA post-season ban on men’s basketball or partial season suspension of Head Men’s Basketball Coach Larry Brown,” SMU president R. Gerald Turner stated in the release. “Although we regret the severe impact on our student-athletes, the simple fact is that the NCAA penalty structure mandates at minimum a one-year post-season ban for the level of misconduct that occurred, in our case, when a former staff member completed an online high school course for a prospective student-athlete, committing academic misconduct.
“In addition, should we appeal this matter, the lengthy process and uncertainty during this period could harm many aspects of the program. Coach Brown and his staff also agree that it is in the best interests of the program to accept these sanctions and move forward.”
Among the penalties the school will appeal (with regards to the basketball program) are the “duration of scholarship losses” and how long the recruiting restrictions placed on the program will last, and the vacating of games Frazier played in during the 2013-14 season.
This a tough turn of events for players who had nothing to do with the violations, as they see their opportunity to return to the NCAA tournament taken away. As a result of the school’s decision, SMU’s season will end March 9 following their regular season finale against Cincinnati.