Meet the Mustangs: Everett Ray, SMU Cox Finance Major

by Andy Lohman,|

Despite his lineage, SMU sophomore forward Everett Ray was never pressured into playing basketball.

"Both of my parents never stressed basketball to me," Ray said. "Especially my dad; my dad could probably care less about basketball. He loves the fact that I'm a student."

Ray's father is Clifford Ray. Clifford played 10 NBA seasons, including the 1974-75 title season with the Golden State Warriors, before coaching professional basketball for several years. He was on the bench as an assistant coach for the Boston Celtics' 2008 championship.

Even though he didn't make it a priority, Clifford couldn't help young Everett from falling in love with the game of basketball. Being around the world's best players showed him what was required to succeed at the highest level and inspired him to do the same.

"I credit a lot of my work ethic, energy and approach to the game to that because I saw how much it took. Even when those guys are getting paid $50 million, they're still in the gym at 2 o'clock in the morning," Ray said. "I saw the greats do that, so I knew if I wanted to be great and not just good, I knew that's what I needed to do."

Of course academics still played a significant role in Ray's decision to play on the Hilltop.

"That's why I love SMU so much," Ray said. "Because I have a chance to be academically challenged and take advantage of a full scholarship and to be in one of the best business schools in the world and play for one of the best teams, I feel like, in the country."

Ray joins a line of successful former Mustangs pursuing a degree in Finance from SMU Cox.

David Miller, a member of SMU's 1972 conference championship team who serves on the Board of Trustees and is a successful venture capitalist in the field of oil and gas, has been a mentor for Ray as he navigates both basketball and business.

"We have great alumni here," Ray said. "Especially guys who have played basketball and been businessmen. Of course Mr. Miller loves the basketball team, he's a great guy. I've talked to him and he's given me great pointers about the school and how to be successful."

Ray also played soccer and golf in high school, honing his basketball skills along the way.

"Soccer-wise, footwork," Ray said of how being a multi-sport athlete helped him develop. "I always wanted to play, and my mom and dad are always open to any other avenue I was interested in and did their best to put me in those. Soccer was great, but golf also taught me the mental aspect of things. That's more mentally frustrating than any sport I've ever played. I loved it."

Unfortunately, Ray's freshman campaign was cut short after 16 games due to a right foot injury. While the rehab process was tough both physically and mentally, it's given him a renewed perspective on the game.

"From a standpoint for the future of my career as a whole it's just taught me so much. I've never had a major injury, so I really learned how to push through things," Ray said. "It just taught me to work harder, which I really didn't think was possible."

That perspective has driven his mindset and goals for the season.

Photography: Matt Sisinsky, 247 Sports