#34 SMU Men's Basketball 2016-2017 Preview

SMU Mustangs
2016-2017 Overall Rank: #34
Conference Rank: #3 American
Just when it seemed like things were getting back to normal for SMU, Larry Brown left the program. The Mustangs promoted Tim Jankovich, who spent the last four years as associate head coach under Brown. Coach Jankovich was previously the head coach at Illinois State, so there is plenty of experience still on the staff. Last season the Mustangs won 25 games, but were banned from the postseason. This year SMU will be eligible for the postseason, but they do have some big holes to fill so another 25 win season is a bit of a stretch.
2015-16 Record: 25-5, 14-5
2015-16 Postseason: none
Coach: Tim Jankovich
Coach Record: 0-0 at SMU, 157-121 overall
Who’s Out:
Losing Nic Moore is huge. The guard was named the AAC Player of the Year twice and averaged 16.1 points and 5.2 assists during his senior season. There were not many more productive and important leaders in the country than Moore. As if losing Moore was not enough, SMU also lost Markus Kennedy, Jordan Tolbert and Keith Frazier. Kennedy did not have a great senior season, but he was an important piece for the program during their recent success. Last year the forward averaged 9.3 points and 6.3 rebounds. Tolbert was the team’s top rebounder, with 8.5 per game and added 11.6 points. Frazier only played ten games last year, but he was a dynamic scorer during his limited action.
Who’s In:
SMU needs some bodies in the frontcourt and Semi Ojeleye, Harry Froling and Leo Kontopoulos should fill the void. Ojeleye transferred in from Duke where he saw limited action, but he is a big 6-8 forward who can shoot the ball and battle in the paint. Froling is a big 6-11, 260 pound forward who will stay in the paint. He may not score all that much, yet he should at least be able to help out on the glass as a freshman. Dashawn McDowell and Tom Wilson will look to add depth on the perimeter. McDowell is very good at attacking the basket, but his minutes may be limited until his outside shot starts falling. Wilson is expected to develop into a very good floor leader and should be the backup point guard this year.
Who to Watch:
Despite the losses, SMU has three starters returning who are ready to take over. Ben Moore, a 6-8 senior, averaged 11.9 points, 7.4 rebounds and 1.4 blocks. He will be the leader of this team and his numbers should increase while the offense focuses around Moore in the paint. Shake Milton started 23 games as a freshman and averaged 10.5 points and 2.7 assists. Milton is a great scorer and connected on 42.6 percent of his attempts from behind the arc. However, he can also handle the ball and set up his teammates. SMU has been successful with big wings attacking the basket and creating space for their interior players and shooters. Sterling Brown is the big wing on this team. He can shoot the ball extremely efficiently, but will do most of his scoring by attacking the basket.
Final Projection:
Moore, Milton and Brown will likely be the stars of the team, but there are other players ready to step up too. Jarrey Foster had a very good freshman campaign and is another one of those big guards who can attack the basket and play solid defense. The return of Ben Emelogu, who missed last season with an injury, will help with the defensive end of things as well. He is another talented, lanky defender who averaged 2.8 points and 1.8 rebounds back in 2014-2015. The Mustangs should not have too much problem getting past the loss of their coach, but the lack of experience on the perimeter could keep SMU from winning the American Athletic Conference. However, reaching the NCAA Tournament is a very attainable goal for this group.
Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA
Projected Starting Five:
Shake Milton, Sophomore, Guard, 10.5 points per game
Jarrey Foster, Sophomore, Guard, 4.9 points per game
Sterling Brown, Senior, Guard, 10.1 points per game
Semi Ojeleye, Junior, Forward, DNP last season
Ben Moore, Senior, Forward, 11.9 points per game
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 77.3.1 (73rd in nation, 2nd in conference)
Scoring Defense: 63.4 (13, 2)
Field-Goal Percentage: 49.7 (4, 1)
Field-Goal Defense: 40.0 (28, 3)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 6.5 (225, 8)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 42.0 (3, 1)
Free-Throw Percentage: 70.0 (161, 5)
Rebound Margin: 10.2 (4, 1)
Assists Per Game: 17.6 (6, 1)
Turnovers Per Game: 12.4 (146, 7)
Madness 2016 Men’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#53 Ted Kapita