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Tolbert "can't wait" to play at SMU
This past weekend, ex-Texas Tech big man Jordan Tolbert decided he was leaving Lubbock and joining the SMU Mustangs on the Hilltop. "I don't even know how to put it. It's like getting a job on Wall Street," Tolbert said. "I can't wait. It's hard to describe. I'm so excited, man. It's just like love when you go back home. There's no other feeling that can explain that." Tolbert is leaving the Red Raiders to be closer to his family after his father recently passed away. The 6-foot-7, 225-pounder attended Fort Worth All Saints where he averaged 17.4 points and 11.5 rebounds per game in high school. However, the former three-star recruit says location was just one of the many reasons why he chose to come to SMU for his senior year. "Dallas is like 45 minutes away from Forth Worth and right up the street," he explained. "As far as getting my degree, SMU is a really good academic school, so that helps apart from basketball. Of course, they got some good things going on over there with Larry Brown and the players they have right now, too." Assistant coach Ulric Maligi was the main coach recruiting Tolbert for the Mustangs. This past weekend, Tolbert, his mother, and Maligi checked out the SMU campus and watched the team practice for a couple hours. "The visit was good," Tolbert said. "Coach Ulric took me around the campus and the facilities. All that was great. I talked to Coach Brown and met with all the players. I liked it a lot." Tolbert averaged 10.7 points and 5.8 rebounds per game as a junior this past season at Texas Tech. He was the team's second leading scorer, but decided he was leaving after the Big 12 Tournament and told head coach Tubby Smith. With his strong presence in the post, Tolbert could replace graduating forward Shawn Williams, who is one of only two seniors on SMU's roster. "My bread and butter is anywhere close to the basket," Tolbert said. "I'm great near the basket or with my back to the basket. I can also shoot from about 17 feet and I get a lot of put back dunks and offensive rebounds." "I enjoy running the floor," he continued. "For me, outrunning everybody down the floor is an easy basket. Offensive rebounds can kill opponents if you do it consecutively and plays like that win games. I would say I'm scrappy; I'll fight for every loose ball, and try to give it my all out there. It's all predicated off my defense." Tolbert watched SMU take down Clemson in the NIT semifinals and has tried to keep tabs on the Mustangs all season. He has also already talked to Larry Brown about SMU's style of play and how he would fit in next season. "I couldn't catch as many games as I wanted to, but I caught a few of them," Tolbert said. "I talked to Coach Brown and he said there are only two positions in basketball: guard and center. He told me if I'm not a guard, than I'm a center. I'm really excited to play up and down because I can handle the ball whenever." Tolbert understands how much of a privilege it will be to learn under a Hall of Fame head coach. The big man is hoping to make a major impact at SMU in his one year of eligibility. "The thing I really want to focus on is rebounding," Tolbert said. "I want to push myself further in that area because we will be stacked as a team. We have good players on the team, so if I'm going to standout I want to standout for that reason." Tolbert hasn't had a chance to watch his future teammate, five-star point guard Emmanuel Mudiay, play yet, but Tolbert has a connection to the nation's No. 1 point guard already. One of his close friends, Byron Smith, plays at Prime Prep with Mudiay now. Smith is a 6-foot-6, 190 pound small forward that is undecided in the class of 2014. "Byron Smith is like a little brother to me and he says Mudiay is the best point guard in the nation, so that's exciting," Tolbert said. "He is going to find me and be fun to play with. I know he can drive and drop it off to me. Also, lobs and things like that. I'm just excited, man." Tolbert is waiting to hear back from the NCAA about the status of his appeal, but didn't want to comment too much on his private situation. His father, who was just 40 years old, died in his sleep on Oct. 19, 2012, so Tolbert is hoping he will be allowed to play next season. "I don't know yet," he said. "SMU is up there in New York handling their business and what not. I'm going to wait until they come back and we will start figuring that out. It may be a couple of weeks." Tolbert said he plans on finishing up his remaining class at Texas Tech and returning home to Dallas this summer. With that addition, the Mustangs have only one available scholarship left in the class of 2014.
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