This SMU basketball season looks a little different than the last one, but No. 24 Everett Ray is still eager to see what the Mustangs can do. The forward from Irving hit the hardwood in November while balancing his workload as an SMU Cox student in the Alternative Asset Management Program — one of the country’s elite undergrad finance programs. It makes for a busy junior year, but the balancing act is nothing new for Ray, who’s always been determined to succeed on and off the court. We asked him about this season.

Everett Ray
Photography by Guy Rogers III

Cox: What hopes do you have for this season?
Everett Ray: Our practices have been something special. The majority of the team is returning, which is a big reason for this, but the buy-in from all the players is what makes me excited about this year’s team. We believe we can go dancing this year and make our fans and university proud.

Cox: How would you describe this year’s team?
ER: This year’s team is very determined. After what has happened in the world, we all have agreed how precious this time in our lives is.

Cox: You’re also currently pursuing a finance degree. How did you choose that major?
ER: Out of all the majors that Cox offered, I felt finance would suit me best because of how applicable it is to the world of business.

Cox: Thinking back to when you decided to attend SMU, what drew you to the school?
ER: I was committed to Yale but ultimately decided to decommit to find a program that offered a better basketball platform. I knew Cox was one of the country’s best business schools, but I was told there had not been a scholarship basketball player in the business school for some time. I thought it would be a great goal to achieve.

Photography by Guy Rogers III

Cox: Your father, Clifford Ray, played and coached in the NBA, but your mother is also a big influence on you. How has she impacted you?
ER: My mother is my absolute rock. I have watched her my entire life sacrifice to give me the best opportunities possible. Growing up, she never stopped stressing the importance of education. My parents were going to support me on any university I chose, but they were happy that I chose such a challenging university as SMU.

Cox: How have you balanced academics and athletics at SMU?
ER: My coach spoke to our team during my freshman year and explained, “In life, you are going to have many choices, and if you can master the moment of decision-making, watch what happens to the trajectory of your life.” I tried to apply that mindset anytime I was faced with a conflicting decision, and it allowed me to prioritize what was important and deserving of my free time away from sports.

Cox: You were named to the 2019-20 NABC Honors Court, which recognizes juniors and seniors with a cumulative GPA of 3.2 or higher. What did that mean to you?
ER: It meant a ton to me because of who has received the honor in the past. James Pyle, Semi Ojeleye and Jonathan Wilfong are guys I have looked up to.

Photography by Guy Rogers III

Cox: You and teammate William Douglas represent men’s basketball as members of SMU’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. What has that responsibility entailed?
ER: I have been on the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee for two years now. Our executive board has done an amazing job at making each sport’s voice heard, and with the guidance of [Director of Student-Athlete Development] André Harris, we have raised nationwide awareness about the importance of student- athletes’ mental health.

Cox: What are your plans after graduating?
ER: I, of course, want to play professional basketball, but if that is not God’s plan for me, then I plan to begin my career in finance with an investment bank. The Alternative Asset Management Program pushed me to my limits like never before, and I feel confident and prepared if I go into investment banking.