North Texas Daily

Former SMU standout Frazier looks to write new chapter with Mean Green

Former SMU standout Frazier looks to write new chapter with Mean Green

March 03
00:56 2016

Reece Waddell | Senior Staff Writer

@ReeceWaddell15

He stood on the baseline at the Super Pit donning his new white North Texas practice jersey. Occasionally he glanced at the court as he twirled a basketball on his fingertips, all while not saying a word. The limelight is not something he seeks.

With no name on the back of his jersey, observers may not know he is former McDonald’s All-American and Southern Methodist University standout Keith Frazier.

Frazier is the first McDonald’s All-American to ever play at North Texas and comes to Denton by way of a midterm transfer. Having played for SMU the first two years of his collegiate career, Frazier seemed poised to lead an up-and-coming Mustangs squad, which owns a 24-4 record this season.

But Frazier’s basketball journey was derailed last October when an NCAA investigation revealed SMU had committed various infractions, including academic fraud. Frazier was at the center of the investigation, and although his name is not directly mentioned in the NCAA’s 61-page report, the ruling states “a former men’s basketball administrative assistant, hired by the men’s head basketball coach, engaged in unethical conduct by impermissibly assisting a highly recruited prospective student-athlete to obtain fraudulent academic credit.”

Frazier declined to comment on the issue.

“I’m just looking to start fresh, enjoy my teammates and get my degree from UNT,” Frazier said.

Frazier went to high school at Dallas Kimball and led his team to the 4A State Finals as a senior. He averaged 23.2 points, 6.2 rebounds and 6.3 assists in his final season as a high schooler.

Fast-forward two years and Frazier averaged 11.9 points per game as a junior before leaving SMU for personal reasons. With the majority of his collegiate eligibility gone and overshadowed by a scandal that resulted in SMU being banned from the postseason, Frazier spent the latter part of 2015 shrouded in controversy.

Junior guard Keith Frazier is eligible to play December of next season for the North Texas' men's basketball team after trasnferring from Southern Methodist Univeristy. Dylan Nadwodny | Staff Photographer

Junior guard Keith Frazier is eligible to play December of next season for the North Texas’ men’s basketball team after trasnferring from Southern Methodist Univeristy. Dylan Nadwodny | Staff Photographer

He says those days are behind him, however, and a new chapter awaits.

“I’m really excited,” Frazier said. “We have a really good group of guys. I like my teammates a lot. This is one of the best teams I’ve been around in a long, long time.”

Frazier is not the only person to come to UNT seeking a chance to start anew. Junior guard J-Mychal Reese transferred to North Texas in the summer of 2014 after a failed stint at Texas A&M University. In his first year playing in a Mean Green uniform, Reese is second on the team averaging 14.9 points per game and leads the team in assists with 111.

Coincidentally, Reese and Frazier don’t just know each other – they played with one another as teenagers.

“I’m really excited to get back on the court with Keith,” Reese said. “We played on the same team since like eighth grade. We’ve been playing together and I’ve known him since then. When he was at SMU and I was here, we would talk. He can take us to another level.”

Frazier will add to a group of returning starters next season that includes Reese, sophomore forward Jeremy Combs and junior guard Deckie Johnson, and he’s expected to have an immediate impact in his first and only season with North Texas.

Frazier will also get his reunion with Reese – a bond he said was never broken despite the distance and different colleges over the past few years.

“J-Mychal is cool, really cool,” Frazier said. “We’re real close. That’s my boy. [It’s going] to be like back in the day when we always used to play with each other. It’s nothing new. We’re going to do our thing and handle our business.”

Head coach Tony Benford said the trend over the last few years of players transferring to UNT in search of a new beginning is a testament to many things. The biggest, he said, is the culture North Texas has cultivated.

“When it doesn’t work out at certain places, I think you come in and want to come somewhere where it’s like family,” Benford said. “It’s not going to be judgmental. You don’t have a whole lot of pressure on him. It’s close enough to home but far enough where he can still get away if he needs to. Our program is a player’s program.”

Frazier will have to sit out two semesters before he is eligible to suit up for the Mean Green in December 2016. As for his fresh start, Benford said how Frazier’s final year in college plays out will ultimately be dictated by Frazier himself.

“He’s got a lot of talent,” Benford said. “He’s got a chance to be a really, really good player. It’s the chance to write a new chapter like J-Mychal Reese is doing. It’s going to be up to him how he wants his chapter to be written. By being committed and continuing to work hard. If he does that, he’s definitely going to have an impact on his team and this program for years to come.”

Featured Image: Freshman guard Keith Frazier transferred from Southern Methodist University this past fall. Dylan Nadwodny | Staff Photographer

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