This is a huge hit for Larry Brown and the SMU Mustangs. (and the American Athletic Conference)
It had been rumored that forward Markus Kennedy was going to be ineligible, and the rumors are now fact. Markus Kennedy has been declared ineligible for the first semester of the season.
The 6-foot-9 senior was second on the team in scoring last season, averaging 12.4 PPG while also leading the team in rebounds at 7.1 RPG, earning a spot on the preseason all-AAC first team. Kennedy is the second big time loss for SMU, the first being one of the best recruits in school history, Emmanuel Mudiay, who is now playing professionally in China.
Although Kennedy is out for the first semester due to academics, the Mustangs still have junior Nic Moore, who is one of the best guards in the AAC and the country. The 5-9 junior led the team in scoring at 13.6 PPG while shooting 43.6% from three, and dished out 4.9 APG.
Big man Yanick Moreira will see an increased role, which is not a bad thing at all. The 6-foot-11 senior only averaged 6.0 PPG and 3.9 RPG last season but injured his knee halfway through the year. Moreira, who is from Angola, played for his home country in the FIBA Basketball World Cup this summer and averaged 17.8 PPG and 8.2 RPG against some of the best big men in the world. He was going to be a factor no matter what this year, but he will need to step up even more without Kennedy.
Cannen Cunningham, a 6-foot-10 center, will also see more minutes with Kennedy out. The senior averaged 9.3 PPG and 6.2 RPG as a sophomore while playing over 30 minutes a game, but only played 13 minutes a game last season, averaging 5.1 PPG and 2.8 RPG playing behind Kennedy and Moreira. This is a chance for Cunningham to get back in the rotation.
SMU is currently ranked #22 in the AP poll, but will be tested early playing on the road against Gonzaga and Indiana within the next week. Kennedy will be back for both UConn games on February 14th and March 1st.
The Mustangs were ranked #3 in our AAC preseason power rankings.