#40 SMU Men's Basketball 2017-2018 Preview

SMU Mustangs
2017-2018 Overall Rank: #40
Conference Rank: #3 American
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SMU had a superb 2016-2017 season. Coach Tim Jankovich took over the program and many expected the Mustangs would take a step back. However, the program kept moving upwards and finished with a 30-5 overall record, including a 17-1 mark in American Athletic Conference play and an AAC tournament title. However, that was the end of the good times. The Mustangs were upset in the first round of the NCAA Tournament by 11th seeded USC. SMU will take a step back this year with the loss of three starters, but there is enough talent coming in and returning for Coach Jankovich to get his team back to the big dance.
2016-17 Record: 30-5, 17-1
2016-17 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Tim Jankovich
Coach Record: 39-5 at SMU, 196-126 overall
Who’s Out:
Losing three of their four double digit scorers from a season ago certainly hurts. Semi Ojeleye led the team with 19.0 points per game and added 6.9 rebounds. He connected on an impressive 42.4 percent of his three-point attempts and the 6-7 forward will be nearly impossible to replace. Ben Moore was the more traditional forward on the roster. The 6-8 forward averaged 11.4 points and a team high 7.8 rebounds and 1.1 blocks during his senior season. Like Ojeleye, Sterling Brown was a great shooter during his last season with SMU. Brown knocked down 61 three-pointers at a 44.9 percent clip. He also dished out 3.0 assists and grabbed 6.5 rebounds on top of his 13.4 points per game. Harry Froling, Tom Wilson and Dashawn McDowell are also gone after occasionally providing some depth to the squad.
Who’s In:
Coach Jankovich welcomes in eight new players who will be eligible this season. Akoy Agau comes from Georgetown as a graduate transfer where he averaged 4.6 points and 4.5 rebounds last year. Incoming freshmen Ethan Chargois and Everett Ray are the only other two eligible forwards on the roster. Chargois will likely be the freshman in the frontcourt who will play quite a few minutes. Fellow freshmen William Douglas, Elijah Landrum and Luke Wilfong will add options on the perimeter. Douglas is likely the one who has the best shot at making an impact as a freshman. Transfers Jimmy Whitt and Jahmal McMurray will both make a bigger impact this year. Whitt started ten games with Arkansas two seasons ago and averaged 6.1 points per game. He is a good all-around scorer and will take over a bulk of the ball handling duties. Back in 2015-2016, McMurray averaged 15.2 points per game at South Florida. Once eligible in December, McMurray will help replace the lost three-point shooting of Ojeleye and Brown.
Who to Watch:
This team has plenty of shooters returning though. Shake Milton led the squad last year with 82 made three-pointers. He connected on an impressive 42.3 percent of his attempts too. Milton will likely be the scoring leader on this team after tallying 13.0 points per game last year. He also added 4.1 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 1.3 steals. With Whitt joining the mix, Milton will be able to spend more time off the ball and that should help boost his scoring even more. Jarrey Foster is a great shooter too. He connected on 44.4 percent of his three-point attempts and proved to be an efficient scorer inside as well. Ben Emelgou II was the AAC’s Co-Sixth Man of the Year in 2016-2017. The 6-5 senior could step into a starting role this time around, but starting or not, he will play great defense. One of the more important aspects of Milton, Foster and Emelgou is their size. All three are 6-5 or 6-6. That gives Coach Jankovich some flexibility when it comes to putting his best five players on the floor.
Final Projection:
Traditionally, SMU has big guards who can shoot the ball, play great defense and help out on the glass. That is certainly the case again. However, the lack of a proven frontcourt player is a bit of a concern. Agau has experience and Chargois has potential, but they will not be Ojeleye and Moore. That means SMU will have to play smaller and more often than not there could be four guards on the floor. With their size and rebounding abilities, that is not a terrible thing. As long as somebody can be a presence in the paint on both ends of the floor and play some solid defense, SMU’s backcourt will carry them towards the top of the AAC.
Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA
Projected Starting Five:
Jimmy Whitt, Sophomore, Guard, DNP last season
Shake Milton, Junior, Guard, 13.0 points per game
Ben Emelogu II, Senior, Guard, 4.3 poitns per game
Jarrey Foster, Junior, Guard, 9.9 points per game
Akoy Agau, Senior, Forward, 4.6 points per game (at Georgetown)
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 74.3 (149th in nation, 2nd in conference)
Scoring Defense: 60.0 (3, 1)
Field-Goal Percentage: 47.2 (41, 1)
Field-Goal Defense: 38.6 (7, 2)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 8.2 (103, 3)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 40.6 (5, 1)
Free-Throw Percentage: 69.6 (196, 6)
Rebound Margin: 8.7 (5, 1)
Assists Per Game: 16.2 (26, 1)
Turnovers Per Game: 10.8 (21, 3)