Football has once again broken our hearts, and while men’s soccer and women’s volleyball have been dominating, we’ve all been waiting to watch Nic Moore’s nifty passes and Markus Kennedy’s thunderous dunks – Moody Magic is right around the corner, so in preparation for tip-off on November 14 vs. Sam Houston State, here are some things you need to know about another year of SMU basketball:
Great moments from 2014-15
- Fan favorite and bench player Jonathan Wilfong gets the steal and dunk against Eastern Carolina resulting with near riot celebrations at Moody Coliseum.
- March 8 – SMU wins regular season American Conference Championship in front of a sold out home crowd with a 67-62 win over Tulsa. The Mustangs finished 15-3 in conference play, winning the first conference title since 1993.
- SMU finished with an overall record of 27-7.
- March 15 – SMU clinches the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA tournament with a 62-54 win over Connecticut to win the AAC tournament.
Award Watch Lists
The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame announced that Kennedy would be named to the 2016 Karl Malone Power Forward of the Year Award watch list.
Since transferring from Villanova, Kennedy has been a staple of Larry Brown’s program. Despite his fall semester suspension last year due to academics, Kennedy returned to be awarded with the 2015 American Athletic Conference Sixth Man of the Year and Most Outstanding Player of the 2015 American Championship. He averaged 11.9 points, 6.3 rebounds and 1.4 steals per game in 2014-15.
As a senior, watch for Kennedy to play with a chip on his shoulder in regards to the postseason ban, and with the intent to make a statement about his ability to play in the NBA.
— SMU Basketball (@SMUBasketball) October 13, 2015
Larry Brown will be introducing five new players to the court against Sam Houston, three of whom are freshman. While transfer players Jordan Tolbert and Semi Ojeleye are known by fans, 2015-16 will be there first time taking the floor. They will be joined by freshmen Shake Milton, Sedrick Barefield, and Jarrey Foster.
Known by his friends and family as “Shake” – Malik Milton played guard at Owasso High School in Owasso, Oklahoma. His senior year he averaged 29.7 points and 4.4 assists and was named Oklahoma Super 5 Player of the Year. He led Owasso to a 24-4 record and to the Class 6A State Championship quarterfinals.
It is quite possible that Barefield could pursue a career modeling for GQ after playing basketball for SMU. As a guard at Centennial High School in Corona, California, he led Centennial to a 25-6 record while averaging 20.6 points, 4.2 assists, 2.2 rebounds and 1.4 steals. He was named Southern Section All-Open Division, Riverside Press-Enterprise All-Area Player of the Year, Los Angeles Times All-Area, High School GameTime Boys Basketball Player of the Year, Big VIII League MVP and All-CIF third team after the 2015 season.
Foster missed his senior high school season due to injury, but as a junior, he led North Shore to the UIL Class 5A State Championship after averaging 12.7 points, 5.5 rebounds, 1.5 blocks and 1.2 steals.
What does the ban mean?
Currently SMU is No. 20 in ESPN’s power rankings. Larry Brown is suspended from the first nine games, so “coach-in-waiting” Tim Jankovich will take the helm. While the Mustangs will not be allowed to participate in this year’s postseason, they are picked to repeat as AAC champions. The Mustangs were voted number one in the AAC in the preseason coach’s poll.
Ultimately, the university and athletic administration chose not to appeal the postseason ban handed down by the NCAA. While several people did not agree with the decision, mainly in part of seniors Nic Moore and Markus Kennedy, (see players open letter here), the university’s decision makes sense in the long run. Allowing the one year postseason ban to play out this year will allow Coach Brown to focus on the ultimate goal, a strong program that is consistently making the NCAA tournament in the future.