FREE: Ben Emelogu: "I'm Coming Home"

FREE: Ben Emelogu: "I'm Coming Home"

Omar talked with SMU transfer Ben Emelogu, whose commitment was overshadowed by news that Emmanuel Mudiay would be playing pro.

It’s been a busy week for the SMU basketball program.

On Monday morning, news broke that five-star point guard Emmanuel Mudiay from Prime Prep Academy decided to skip college and go play professionally overseas. The madness of SMU losing their top recruit overshadowed another move made by the Mustangs to add a very talented transfer.

Ben Emelogu from Virginia Tech has decided to come home and play for Larry Brown at SMU.

“I just felt like I needed to get home."

"I want my family to see me play and my grandma is sick. She hasn’t seen me in a long time. I thought it would be good for them to see me play in college,” Emelogu said. “I couldn’t adjust fully to Virginia Tech all the way. I tried to stick it out, but I felt like me coming home was best for me.”

Emelogu is a 6-foot-5, 210-pound combo guard who is originally from South Grand Prairie HS. He comes to SMU with three years of eligibility left and hopes he will be able to contribute next season.

“It depends on if I get a waiver this year. I’m hoping I can get it. I have to sign my papers and get with SMU compliance,” Emelogu said. “I have to write a letter and my mom has to write a letter. It’s a pretty strenuous process, but I’ll go through it to play.”

Emelogu has a special relationship with SMU coach Ulric Maligi. The Mustangs’ assistant coached Emelogu’s brother, Lindsey Hughey, on the Dallas Mustangs in AAU.

“SMU is a great program that’s up-and-coming. They have a great coach in Larry Brown as everyone knows. One of the staff members, Coach Ulric (Maligi) I have known since I was a little kid,” Emelogu said. “It’s not far from home. My family can see me play. Hopefully, my grandma can see me play.”

Emelogu called his relationship with the SMU coaches “great” and said he talks to Maligi almost every day. Emelogu led South Grand Prairie to the state title game as a senior in 2013 and broke the scoring record in the Texas Hall of Fame All-Star Game with 38 points. He was rated a two-star by Scout.com.

“SMU recruited me in high school. I’m glad the opportunity came back around when I made the decision to transfer,” Emelogu said. “It feels great. It’s a confidence booster to know a legendary coach like that has interest in your game.”

Emelogu has also known SMU guard Keith Frazier since middle school, so he says he watched “as many SMU games as possible.” Emelogu kept up with the Mustangs through their NIT run last year because of his relationship with Frazier and “wanting to support Coach Ulric.”

Last season, Emelogu was the team captain at Virginia Tech and averaged 10.5 points, 3.1 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game despite injuries that caused him to miss nine games.

The Hokies decided to fire head coach James Johnson and replace him with former Marquette coach Buzz Williams. Emelogu says he tried to work it out with the new coaching staff, but eventually decided it was best for him to leave.

Emelogu took a visit to the Hilltop this past weekend and pulled the trigger on his commitment Monday morning. He said Coach Brown and Maligi were both extremely excited to hear of his decision.

“It’s a beautiful campus. I like what they did with Moody Coliseum by renovating it. I think I would have fun living there and it will be a great college experience along with basketball,” Emelogu said. “I’m just going to contribute the best way I can. I will find my niche on the team and we can improve on what we did last year.”

Emelogu hasn’t really talked to the SMU coaches about what kind of role he will play for the team.

He says he is ready to contribute in any way and knows he must work on his shot selection to play on a deep and talented team like the Mustangs.

“I feel like one of my weaknesses is shot selection. I took some pretty bad shots last year,” Emelogu said. “My strength is that I can play the 1 through the 3. I’m a combo guard and not really stuck in a position. I’m also strong and can get to the basket. I shed off defenders with my body and can finish.”

Emelogu won’t be working out with the team this summer, but says he will start watching film with Coach Ulric and Coach Brown as soon as he signs. In the meantime, he is working out in the gym by himself to improve his game.

"I want to contribute the best way I can. I want to have fun and win games,” Emelogu said. “I’m looking to win a conference championship and move on to the NCAA tournament. We’ll see how it goes.”

As for the Emmanuel Mudiay decision, Emelogu feels SMU will be bounce back nicely. He was adamant about the fact it doesn’t reflect bad on the program and says the team will still be loaded next year.

“I felt that Emmanuel’s decision wasn’t going to make or break the team. It would have made them better, but they were good last year and didn’t lose too many guys. They lost Nick Russell who is great player,” Emelogu said. “I just don’t think the Mudiay decision breaks the team. I definitely would have enjoyed practicing against him and playing with him, but I wish him the best. Our program is still going to be good.”

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