SMU enters the 2014-15 season looking to earn the program’s first NCAA tournament bid since 1993, and in all honesty Larry Brown’s group has the talent needed to accomplish more than simply getting into the 68-team field. One of the players expected to help in that mission is redshirt junior forward Markus Kennedy, who was one of the American Athletic Conference’s best front court players in 2013-14.
Unfortunately, according to a report the Mustangs will be without Kennedy (12.4 ppg, 7.1 rpg, 1.5 spg) for the remainder of the fall semester for academic reasons.
According to Jeff Goodman of ESPN.com Kennedy has been ruled academically ineligible for the remainder of the semester. Last month there were concerns regarding Kennedy’s status, with the possibility of his missing time being discussed. Final exams for the fall semester at SMU conclude on December 17, with the Mustangs hosting UIC that night. Three days later SMU visits Michigan in what will be a pivotal non-conference game with regards to the Mustangs’ resume.
Not having Kennedy is a big blow for SMU to absorb, and it places even more responsibility upon the shoulders of senior center Yanick Moreira. Moreira struggled with health issues for a good portion of last season, but he rebounded this summer with a very good showing at the FIBA Basketball World Cup in Spain playing for his native Angola.
In addition to Moreira, SMU returns senior center Cannen Cunningham and sophomore forward Ben Moore in the front court, with graduate transfer Justin Martin (Xavier) eligible to compete immediately. Unfortunately for SMU transfer Jordan Tolbert (Texas Tech) has to sit this season, and he would have given them another body to help absorb the hit of losing Kennedy.
SMU has pieces capable to help Brown deal with this personnel loss, and their perimeter depth will allow the Mustangs to play small at times if they so choose. But there’s no ignoring the fact that not having one of the American’s best players hurts SMU moving forward.