SMU Basketball Hopes for 2015 Rebound with Top Recruit

SMU Mustangs Basketball

The 2013-14 SMU basketball season was largely a successful one. The Mustangs in Hall of Fame coach Larry Brown’s second season with the team rolled to a 23-9 record, and were a top-25 team late in the regular season. However, after Selection Sunday the Mustangs were seen as one of the biggest snubs from the NCAA Tournament. Coach Brown said after the decision, “I learned a long time ago when things don’t go exactly your way, you can either pack it in or use it as a learning experience to get better.”


The experiences that Larry Brown has had over the course of his almost 40 year head coaching career will surely serve SMU well going forward.  There may be a question over whether Brown will be coaching at the school much longer, but it already looks like his leadership is making an impact at the school. The 2013-14 performance by his Mustangs showed just that.


In Larry Brown’s first year, the team appeared to be still adjusting and finished with a losing record. However, for most of the 2014 season, the Mustangs looked to have their strongest team in some time. The Mustangs beat perennial powerhouse UConn twice convincingly, and beat two other ranked opponents in Memphis and Cincinnati during the season. 


One of the biggest factors of that turnaround was a strong three-man recruiting class for 2013. Guard Keith Frazier was a five-star recruit by last summer, and the class was rounded out by two three-star recruits. Frazier played only 15 minutes per game through the season, but his recruitment heralded a changing of the guard at the school. 


One of the three-star recruits, 6’6 guard Sterling Brown, got about 19 minutes per game and saw significant playing time in the Mustangs’ last few games. Brown was an important substitute by the end of the season, and his contributions were valued by Brown during the season. 


These youngsters’ contributions during the season did not help SMU towards the end of the year. They lost three consecutive games to close the year out, including a loss in their first game of the American Athletic Conference Tournament. These losses were the biggest reason for their NCAA Tournament absence. To help against these tougher opponents next year, the Mustangs will bring in one of the best recruits in the nation.


The signing of Emmanuel Mudiay was seen as a coup by Larry Brown and the SMU program. The 6’5 point guard starred at NFL Hall of Famer Deion Sanders’s prep school Prime Prep, dazzling observers with his polished passing and shooting ability. Mudiay was heavily recruited by Kentucky, nominally the favorite with almost any top recruit. The signing of Mudiay has been seen as a major victory for an SMU program that is gaining relevance in Division I.


SMU basketball accepted an invitation to the NIT after missing out on the NCAA tournament, starting their run in the smaller tournament with a victory over UC Irvine on March 19. This may not be the tournament that Brown and the Mustangs were hoping for, but a good showing could be another step in the right direction. For a program looking for respectability, those steps look to be leading to something big.