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Texas A&M Basketball

A&M hoops stars won't allow tough season to diminish 2018 dreams

May 3, 2017
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A few weeks ago NBA draft analysts projected Texas A&M’s Robert Williams would go to Charlotte or Denver. But Williams would rather go to San Antonio.

Not to the Spurs, though the 6-foot-9 forward with the pterodactyl wing span surely would love to join coach Greg Popovich’s crew. Rather, Williams opted to return to A&M for his sophomore year in hopes of going to San Antonio for a different reason.

“The Final Four,” he said last week.

In case you’re unaware, March Madness 2018 concludes in San Antonio.

“It was just a decision of what was best for me,” Williams said about his decision to return for his sophomore season. “I felt like I really needed another year to grow to do some things that I can’t do now. We have confetti dreams … championships.”

Skeptics would say dream on. San Antonio is just a three-hour drive from College Station, but it will probably take at least 22 regular season victories and four NCAA Tournament wins to get there.

That might seem like wishful thinking for a team that finished 16-15 last season, leaving them tied for ninth in the Southeastern Conference.

The NCAA Tournament? A realistic goal. The Final Four? Come on.

But the Aggies are adamant that it's realistic.

Brian Okosun Unaccustomed to not being on a winning team, Tyler Davis is determined to lead the Aggies back to contending form next season.
“It’s the kind of confidence we have in the team, especially this year coming up,” said All-SEC center Tyler Davis, who embraced Williams when he announced he’d return. “Last year was such a humbling experience that it just kind of shocked you. I never played on a team that was barely a .500 team. I’ve always played on good teams. Even if we didn’t win a championship, we were winning teams, period.

“Last year it humbled me so much it just made me look at the little tiny things to make the team function better and go harder every day.”

On paper, next season’s basketball team has tons of potential.

Davis has All-SEC credentials.

Williams, the SEC’s Defensive Player of the Year, is a projected Top 10 NBA draft pick.

Admon Gilder averaged 13.7 points last season despite playing out of position at point guard. He figures to be better at the more natural off guard spot.

Freshman JJ Caldwell will take over at point guard and provide the Aggies a more reliable ball handler, which should help with the turnovers that plagued A&M.

“When JJ is in there, he’s going to be able to get us shooters more shots,” Gilder said. “He can penetrate in the lane at any given time. We know we’re not going to have too much to worry about beating the press because he can beat it by himself.”

A&M also figures to have more help off the bench, which was a major problem last season. Omitting Williams’ production, A&M averaged just 6.9 bench point in its 10 SEC losses.

Williams came off the bench on senior day so Tavario Miller could start. Williams scored 20 points, while Miller and senior guard JC Hampton combined for three points.

Too often last season, A&M appeared to be playing four against five while navigating a schedule that included 10 NCAA Tournament teams. Most of those games were very competitive until the last minutes when A&M’s lack of depth became a factor.

It was just a decision of what was best for me. I felt like I really needed another year to grow to do some things that I can’t do now. We have confetti dreams … championships. - Texas A&M forward Robert Williams
That might not be an issue next season. Tonny Trocha-Morelos will be able to come off the bench again. The arrivals of transfer Duane Wilson, who averaged 8.8 points at Marquette, and incoming freshmen Savion Flagg, TJ Starks and Jay Jay Chandler figure to significantly upgrade the Aggies’ bench production.

That should be enough to enable the Aggies to return to the NCAA tournament. In fact, they might have enough strength to reach the Sweet Sixteen, which they did two seasons ago.

But the Final Four might seem a bit too ambitious.

The Aggies don’t believe that, though.

“It’s just confidence in my teammates, confidence in my coaches and knowing we can do something that we should have done last year,” Williams said. “I have faith in my team. I think the sky’s the limit for us.”

Davis echoes that.

“We’re going to have talent. We’re going to have depth. When you take the talent and depth that we have on paper and throw that into a place where there’s a culture of 'this is what we do and how we’re going to go everyday,'” he said. “We have 12 dogs out there that all want to do the same thing and that’s win basketball games.

“Obviously, my dream is to play in the NBA, but right now my first goal is to get to San Antonio.”

Keep dreaming. Sometimes dreams come true. Maybe even next season.
Discussion from...

Texas A&M hoops stars won't allow tough season to diminish 2018 dreams

agtrevino07
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AG
It's going to be interested the battle for the 3-4 spot between Hogg, flagg, Vila, Chandler. A bit crowded.

Can't wait for the season to start!
Jarrin' Jay
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Ahealthy Hogg and Caldwell will make a huge difference.

Yes the record was barely above .500 but we lose more than a few games, conference games, by just a few points. Several of those were a one possession game with 1:00 left.

Add in the transfers, it will be very disappointing if we don't make the Tourny, the real Tourny.

And the new vidja boards will be sweet!
Tripacer
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3 hours to get to San Antonio? You drive slow. Stay out of the left lane please.
johnnyblaze36
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Am I the only one that noticed DJ Hogg's name is not even mentioned in this piece or did I miss something?
Pumpkinhead
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DJ Hogg sighting at a team event yesterday, still on the roster!

bobinator
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Olin really took that lede for a walk before bringing it home.
GE
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Pumpkinhead said:

DJ Hogg sighting at a team event yesterday, still on the roster!


Our basketball team does a lot of great things off the court. Almost never hear negative news about any of them getting in trouble with the law, etc. Credit the staff for either recruiting good kids or putting in place the structure to keep them out of trouble once they get here. It will be interesting to see how the incoming freshmen incorporate into that culture.
bobinator
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GE said:


It will be interesting to see how the incoming freshmen incorporate into that culture.
This is an odd sentence.
GE
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bobinator said:

GE said:


It will be interesting to see how the incoming freshmen incorporate into that culture.
This is an odd sentence.
Don't call my sentence odd, Robert.
bobinator
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Just seems to imply that they aren't already part of a culture of being good kids.
GE
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AG
bobinator said:

Just seems to imply that they aren't already part of a culture of being good kids.
They're 18 year old high school kids. Most of us were knuckleheads at that age. I wasn't specifically referencing any of them.
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