Larry Brown has hit the ground running.
He’s only been on the Hilltop for about a week and is amassing quite a staff—Illinois State head coach Tim Jankovich was announced as an “associate head coach” Thursday and reports are out that Houston assistant Ulric Maligi and former Illinois assistant Jerrance Howard are on board as well.
Brown is also making some changes to his roster.
He met with the players as a group on Monday before the introductory press conference and then individually on Wednesday. In those one-on-one meetings, some feelings were hurt.
As of right now, four players have been cut, according to multiple sources. Sophomore point guard Jeremiah Samarrippas, redshirt freshmen forwards Richmonds Vilde and Leslee Smith, and true freshman forward Eric Norman will no longer be playing for the Mustangs.
Thursday, Samarrippas posted the following on his Facebook:
“Big ups to all my friends at SMU that I built relationships with over these last two years here…much love from me!”
“Announcement coming pretty soon…there will be a lifestyle change.”
And then Friday, The Daily Campus, SMU’s student newspaper, confirmed what sources had said by publishing a story after interviewing Samarrippas.
“He basically told me that I wasn’t good enough to play for him,” the now former starting point guard told the school paper (“he,” of course, is in reference to Brown).
Three players are from out of state with Samarrippas hailing from Bartow, Fla., Vilde from Riga, Latvia, and Norman from San Diego, Calif. Smith is from Humble, Texas.
Samarrippas averaged 31 minutes per contest, shot 36 percent from the floor and had an assist-to-turnover ratio of 130:73 last season. Vilde and Smith shot under 45 percent from the field and Norman only appeared in a handful of games.
It’s unknown at this moment where these guys plan to go from here.
Despite being cut, these players may stay enrolled at SMU and retain their scholarships, per NCAA rules.
Below is a statement from athletic director Steve Orsini:
"Upon his hiring, Coach Brown conducted an evaluation of the current men’s basketball roster and then held timely individual meetings with members of the team. During each meeting, there was honest, straight-forward discussion about the future of the program. No player was told his scholarship would not be renewed. Per NCAA men’s basketball rules, each student-athlete has the opportunity to remain at SMU as a student and retain his scholarship. If a student-athlete wishes to continue his playing career elsewhere, Coach Brown and his staff will help him find another institution. These are decisions that will be made by the individual student-athletes, though, and not the Athletic Department. We wish these young men the best in their future endeavors."
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