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Texas A&M Basketball

Promise & Potential: The next step for Texas A&M Basketball

July 7, 2016
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Kevin Sumlin is reeling in four-star recruits like Jimmy Houston reels in bass. SEC football media days begin in less than a week. August camp is just around the corner. UCLA visits Kyle Field in just two months.

So maybe now is not the perfect time to offer a reminder that another Texas A&M sports team is also looking forward to its next season, though with a telescope rather than binoculars.

Why not look ahead to basketball season, too? 

Why not project and ponder the Aggies' chances to build on last season’s SEC championship and Sweet Sixteen appearance?

The easy answer is because All-SEC selections Alex Caruso, Danuel House and Jalen Jones are pursuing professional careers. No SEC team outside of Kentucky can expect to lose three players of that caliber and still be a championship contender, right?

Maybe not.

A year ago A&M basketball coach Billy Kennedy was on the hook for making a bold statement and promising the Aggies would reach the NCAA Tournament.

He’s not making promises this year. But he is making bold statements.

But I will say at the 3, 4 and 5 — and even at the 2 — we have the ability and talent to do as well or better. - Billy Kennedy
Like this one:

“Everybody we put on the floor next year is going to be in a different role than the year before no matter who they are,” Kennedy said last week. “There is not an Alex Caruso, Danuel House or Jalen Jones. Our team is going to be different.

“But I will say at the 3, 4 and 5 — and even at the 2 — we have the ability and talent to do as well or better.”

Kennedy believes the Aggies can be as good or better at those positions even without their three all-conference players.

Dismiss that as wishful thinking. Say he’s delusional. Deduce that the Texas summer heat has finally taken a toll.

Then, analyze the potential of A&M’s probable starting lineup.

Tyler Davis, the 6-10 center who was named to the All-SEC Freshman Team, figures to be better as a sophomore. Last year he shot 65.5 percent from the field, which would have led the SEC had he gotten enough shots to qualify.

Kennedy said that won’t be an issue next season.

“He’s going to get the ball more, I can promise you that,” Kennedy said. “We did everything we could to get him the ball, but our team wasn’t built that way. It will be built that way from Day 1.”

At power forward, 6-10 junior Tonny Trocha-Morelos is much taller and arguably a better outside shooter than Jones. He actually hit just four fewer 3-pointers than Jones despite averaging 10 fewer minutes of playing time.

Trocha-Morelos has to get tougher and stronger on the boards, but if he continues to improve as much as he did last year he could be a major weapon.

Replacing House, the Ags’ leader in scoring and 3-point shooting, is a tall order. Fortunately, the Aggies have a tall option in 6-8 sophomore DJ Hogg, who also was named to the All-SEC Freshman Team.

Alex Parker, TexAgs The Aggies' three stellar sophomores (DJ Hogg pictured) will likely be improved and take over the mantle of team leadership.
House was a streak shooter who frequently struggled from 3-point range.

Hogg was second on the team with 46 three-point goals despite averaging just over 18 minutes per game. He is also more of a low post threat than House was.

If Hogg improves as expected in his second year, he could easily replace House’s production.

“He can score a lot of different ways,” Kennedy said of Hogg. “He wasn’t just a jump shooter like he was projected to be. We knew he could do other things. It was about his body getting stronger and maturing.

“At the end of the year he was stronger and more confident in his body.”

Caruso may be most difficult to replace because he was so versatile. He averaged 8.1 points and also led the Aggies in assists and rebounds.

However, Admon Gilder has some of the same qualities. He was third on the team with 34 steals and fourth with 50 assists despite averaging just 20.4 minutes.

He’s also reliable at the free throw line and hit 35 3-point goals.

Like Caruso, he handles the ball well enough to play point guard if necessary.

Kennedy is confident that won’t be necessary.

“I expect him to play the 2,” Kennedy said. “He can play some 1. He did it for us a lot. But I want him to be free and be able to score. He’ll be a double-figures scorer night in and night out.

“He’s capable of having big nights for us. He should be our best defender, like Alex.”

The remaining questions, then, are whether the Aggies can be as good at point guard without Anthony Collins and with their bench, which was a team strength a year ago.

Heralded point guard recruit J.J. Caldwell and shooting guard Deshawn Corprew have not yet been cleared by the NCAA, but both are expected to play.

Scouts said Caldwell would be an upgrade over Collins, who was reliable with the basketball but wasn’t much of a threat to score.

Corprew, 6-10 freshman Robert Williams, Eric Vila (a forward from Spain), graduate transfer J.C. Hampton (a hot shooting guard) and returnees Tavario Miller and Kobie Eubanks would seem to give the Aggies a solid bench.

Kennedy isn’t making any guarantees, but the Aggies do have a lot of promise.

That’s good reason to look forward to basketball season, too.
Discussion from...

Promise & Potential: The next step for Texas A&M Basketball

7,425 Views | 10 Replies | Last: 7 yr ago by ag2003
Olin Buchanan
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Staff
S
Promise & Potential: The next step for Texas A&M Basketball
sbarnett84
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AG
Nice article. I guess we find out on Caldwell and Corprew sometime in August. Fingers crossed.
A&M1Fan
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AG
Thanks Olin for the basketball article at this time of the year. I look forward to watching this "new" team mature and evolve, player by player. Should be fun and frustrating!
A&M1Fan
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AG
Thanks Olin for the basketball article at this time of the year. I look forward to watching this "new" team mature and evolve, player by player. Should be fun and frustrating!
inch05
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AG
i'm surprised to hear about JJ not being cleared yet.
bobinator
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AG
quote:
i'm surprised to hear about JJ not being cleared yet.
Wasn't he home schooled? Not all that surprising.
RoseRichAg01
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Pumpkinhead
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AG
Luke Winn of SI has us at 18th in his pre-season power rankings.

http://www.si.com/college-basketball/power-rankings-duke-kansas-villanova-oregon-kentucky
ag2003
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AG
What about Caleb Smith? I have to think if JC, JJ and Caleb can handle the PG duties, that would be huge so Admon can focus on the 2.
Method Man
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Ag2003, what wver happened to Ofili?
ag2003
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AG
He ended up at the Air Force Academy and played every special teams for two years and got a few starts as a sophomore at safety, then had a knee injury and decided to hang it up and focus on his career. He's still serving and in fact is in Afghanistan with special ops. Quite a bad ass if you ask me
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