This article originally appeared in the the Nov. 9, 2015, issue of Sports Illustrated. Subscribe to the magazine here.
Nic Moore had every reason to be optimistic about his senior season. The 5'9" point guard and reigning American Athletic Conference player of the year joined Kansas at the World University Games in South Korea in July. Averaging 6.8 points, he helped the squad win gold, then rejoined the Mustangs, who retain four of the top five scorers from the team that broke the school’s 22-year NCAA tournament drought.
But in September the NCAA banned SMU from postseason play for a variety of rules violations. That disappointment aside, Moore is poised for an All‑America season. He led the Mustangs in points (14.5 per game), assists (5.1) and steals (1.3) last year, while shooting a conference-best 41.6% from beyond the arc and 88.9% from the line. “Nic isn’t fast, but he’s quick. He has a real high IQ and he’s exceptionally strong,” coach Larry Brown says. “We’re really going to need his leadership.”
SMU will be smaller overall, increasing the load on sturdy 6'9" forward Markus Kennedy, who was the AAC’s sixth man of the year in ’14–15. Moore will spearhead a deep perimeter corps that will be bolstered by Malik (Shake) Milton, a highly rated 6'5" freshman. But after guiding the Mustangs to March Madness for the first time since 1993, Moore won’t have the chance to deliver their first tournament win since ’88.
Keith Frazier, 6'9" junior guard
A sweet-shooting guard, Frazier (44.9 FG%) will be a primary option in the offense, but how will the 6'5" junior handle the emotional burden of being the focal point of the NCAA’s academic fraud case against the school?
“I don’t think you’re ever real good unless you have good seniors, so Nic, Markus and Jordan Tolbert have to step up. Nic is so competitive that when things don’t go right, he lets his emotions take over. He’s gotten better at handling that adversity. We’re much deeper than last year. We can play 10 or 11 guys, we can play big, we can play small, we can play slow or fast. The concern is last year we had more rim protectors. Frazier can really shoot the ball, but we’re trying to get him to drive it more because he's an excellent passer. He’s as good a defender as we have. Markus Kennedy should be a pro. He is in the best shape of his life. He just has to bring it every day.” — Larry Brown
Projected depth chart