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Texas A&M Basketball

Wade Taylor IV primed to build on his breakout sophomore season

June 11, 2023

Well, we’re now squarely into the dead days of summer for those of us who follow and report on Texas A&M athletics.

Two months of wandering through the proverbial sports desert of June and July, and thirsting for anything to whet your appetite for Aggie sports means it’s time to dive into some offseason analysis of the 2023-2024 Aggie basketball team.

Over the next couple of months, I’ll be running a weekly summer feature article taking an early look at next year’s team, including roster breakdowns and player spotlights.

In this era of the transfer portal and the hyperactive team-hopping by literally thousands of collegiate basketball players every offseason, it’s pretty remarkable that A&M’s roster (in terms of the major core contributors) remains mostly intact from last season.

Dexter Dennis is the only starter or major contributor to leave the program, and he completed his eligibility. In this environment, that’s very rare and sets the table for one of the best seasons in the Buzz Williams era.

It also means next year’s squad will be experienced and loaded for bear, hopefully eliminating the early-season swoon that has plagued Williams and his staff in recent years with high roster turnover and COVID-related offseason practice restrictions.

On paper, this Texas A&M roster is deep with experience and talent. That’s why the Aggies are popping up in most offseason top 25 polls. From the 25,000-foot view, the team looks to have plenty of potential in 2023-2024.

The team did see the departure of several bench players, with Javonte Brown, Kalen Robinson, Erik Pratt and Ashton Smith looking for more playing time at new schools. Those four transfers combined to average just 4.9 points a game.

The losses were expected, and the departures opened up the roster for transfers Eli Lawrence from Middle Tennessee State (12.2 PPG) and Illinois-Chicago’s Jace Carter (16.6 PPG).

With the addition of high school signee Bryce Lindsay, the roster stands at 12 scholarship players. Tyrece Radford’s spot technically does not count against the roster limit of 13 since he is utilizing his COVID-year exemption. It’s also not out of the question the team could add another transfer this summer.

On paper, this Texas A&M roster is deep with experience and talent. That’s why the Aggies are popping up in most offseason top 25 polls. From the 25,000-foot view, the team looks to have plenty of potential in 2023-2024. With that said, let’s spend this summer feature focusing on individual players, their potential role on next year’s team, areas for improvement, and projecting their impact on the court.

What better place to start our player spotlight feature than with All-SEC first-team guard Wade Taylor IV? He had a breakout sophomore campaign as the team’s leader in scoring (16.5 PPG), free throws made (168), free-throw percentage (87.5%), assists (136) and steals (60).

By The Numbers

Let’s compare Taylor’s performances from his first two seasons in Aggieland along with his 2022-2023 SEC ranking in each of these statistical rankings.

Category 2021-2022 2022-2023 SEC Rank
Points/Game 8.2 16.5 3rd
Free Throws 73 - 78% 168 - 87.5% 1st - 1st
Assists 87 136 3rd
Steals 48 60 4th
3-point Shooting 44 - 27.8% 78 - 36.8% 4th - 11th
Turnovers 78 90 2nd


Scouting Report

The numbers don’t lie. The improvement in Taylor’s statistical numbers from his freshman to his sophomore year was quite incredible across the board in several high-value categories. The Lancaster native finished the 2022-2023 campaign in the top four in points scored (3rd), assists (3rd), free throws made (1st), free-throw percentage (1st), 3-pointers made (4th) and steals (4th). Those numbers easily earned Taylor First-Team All-SEC honors.

What made the sophomore point guard so good? That’s an easy one.

Taylor calibrated his ability to see the floor, leveraged his 87.5 percent free throw percentage and used his ability to create contact while attacking the basket and get to the charity stripe.

Jamie Maury, TexAgs
Taylor proved most dominant in February, averaging a team-high 18.7 PPG and also earning his first SEC POTW honors. 

The ability to get to the line and make free throws is the secret sauce for every elite scorer and playmaker, and Taylor fits that mold perfectly. It also comes in handy in crunch time with the game on the line during critical possessions, or when a team is trying to close out a game clinging to a tenuous lead.

All-American Brandon Miller is as elite as it gets (on the court), and the first-team All-American and SEC Player of the Year finished a distant second to Taylor in free throws made (137). Let that sink in a minute. Texas A&M’s returning point guard made 31 more free throws than the premiere player in America last season.

But Taylor’s accolades don’t stop there.

He doubled his scoring output from his freshman year and nearly doubled his assist numbers as well. Taylor is not only the leading scorer on the Aggie basketball team, but he’s also the leader in creating scoring opportunities for his teammates. He refined his perimeter shot selection from behind the 3-point arc, improving from a pedestrian 27.8 percent his freshman season to 36.8 percent in 2022-2023, and he finished fourth in the SEC in 3-point shots made.

Taylor also has a knack for creating steals in critical situations away from the basket that leads to easy transition baskets. His 60 thefts accounted for nearly a quarter of all steals by the entire team.  

I’ll be honest, I knew Taylor was the most productive offensive player on last year’s A&M team, and I knew he was one of the top players in the SEC with his first-team All-SEC selection, but I didn’t realize until I dug into the numbers for this feature just how special the A&M point guard was his sophomore campaign and how much he improved from year one to year two. 

His trajectory heading into 2023-2024 should have Aggie Hoops fans pretty excited.

2023-2024 Improvement Areas

Even the best of the best can find room for improvement. Taylor’s one Achilles’ Heel is his turnover rate. He likes to take chances and push the envelope to make plays, but that also translates into some bad miscues at times. His 90 turnovers ranked second in the SEC last season behind only Anthony Black of Arkansas with 104.

Jamie Maury, TexAgs
In all four of A&M’s wins over ranked foes in the regular season, Taylor scored at least 15 points. 

Also, while Taylor is a pick-pocket expert on defense, he can struggle against bigger, stronger guards and occasionally forces A&M’s defense into rotation early in defensive possessions that can lead to open looks by the opponent. If Taylor can add some good weight in the offseason and get physically stronger, he can alleviate some of these issues going forward in his junior season.

I know I’m getting picky here, but Taylor can become THE premiere guard in the conference with just a small uptick in his three-point percentage. His 36.8 percentage certainly was good, but did not place him near the top of the league where guys like Brandon Miller, Kobe Brown and KJ Williams were all sitting above 40 percent. Bumping up that percentage rate to 38-40 percent would push the junior point guard into that elite perimeter shooter status in 2023-2024.

Importance For 2023-2024 Team Success

Well, this will be short.

I already made the case above that Taylor is one of the top guards in the SEC, and with a few improvements in the offseason, he can become one of the best guards in the country. Combine that skill set and that winning mentality with the experience returning in every area of this roster, and that could transform this Aggie basketball team with preseason top-25 expectations to possibly something special on the order of the magical Sweet 16 season of 2007.

Taylor is the guy that makes it happen. He stirs the drink. If he can build even more on his sophomore breakout season, then Aggie fans better prepare for a wild ride in 2023-2024. This could be fun.

With that said, it’s a lot easier to achieve that breakout season and become one of the top players in your level of sport than it is to stay there. The challenge is building on that elite-level status and pushing even higher.

Taylor will be a marked man by every opponent next season. Job one will be to stop him and force somebody else to beat them. Can he handle the challenge? We’ll see. If he does, A&M basketball will be in very good shape next season.

Discussion from...

Wade Taylor IV primed to build on his breakout sophomore season

4,683 Views | 3 Replies | Last: 5 mo ago by Houstonag
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Good writeup on Taylor. He is, simply put, one of the best players we've ever had.

Question about the roster numbers though, Isn't Gordon also on a covid year?
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Scholarship Counters:
1. Wade
2. Marble
3. Solo
4. Garcia
5. Coleman
6. Manny
7. Hefner
8. Carter
9. Lawrence
10. Lindsay

Could possibly be put on scholarship:
White (we don't know if he is even a part of this time)

Covid years:
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Our guards need to focus on ball handling skills coming down the court and pass before they get trapped. We had too many turnovers from the guards. Pass off and the forwards need to be positioned to take the pass. Keep moving.
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