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Texas A&M Basketball

Transfers poised to help A&M meet lofty expectations this season

October 26, 2023

The return of several top-flight players is the main reason Texas A&M is ranked No. 15 in the Associated Press Preseason Poll.

However, the addition of three transfers may be the key to the Aggies living up to the grandiose expectations.

A&M coach Buzz Williams has a history of filling needs and finding stars in the transfer portal. Starters Tyrece “Boots” Radford, Henry Coleman III and Julius Marble II as well as effective reserve Andersson Garcia came to A&M via the transfer portal.

This season the transfer portal has brought 6-foot-5 guard Eli Lawrence from Middle Tennessee State, 6-foot-6 guard Jace Carter from Illinois-Chicago and 6-foot-10 forward Wildens Leveque from Massachusetts.

Speaking on Thursday at Reed Arena, Williams seemed highly optimistic this year’s transfers can have a strong impact on the Aggies, who are looking to improve on a 25-10 finish from last year.

“I think they’ll all have a different role based on what I’ve seen through 18 practices,” Williams said. “I think they’ll all be able to help us at certain times in certain ways.

“Wildens is behind because he wasn’t here this summer, but he’s made up a lot of ground. He’s worked really hard to catch up on terminology and the things we already had in place before school started.

“We need all three of them to have a distinct role for us.”

“I think they’ll all have a different role based on what I’ve seen through 18 practices. I think they’ll all be able to help us at certain times in certain ways.”
- A&M head coach Buzz Williams

Coleman is duly impressed with his new teammates.

“They fit a Buzz system,” he said. “They’re defensively-minded. They’re offensively-minded in some ways which helps the team. Guys can really shoot the ball. The big fella, Wildens, he’s just a manimal down low. He’s a guy who goes in there, grabs rebounds, doesn’t care who’s in the lane. He just fits our team.

“They’ll make us better, for sure. Maybe in ways people don’t expect. I’m very confident that they know their roles already and they’ll thrive in their roles.”

They’ve thrived in previous stops.

Carter averaged 16.6 points and 7.0 rebounds while also grabbing a team-high 53 steals en route to earning All-Missouri Valley Conference honors last season.

Lawrence, a fifth-year senior, earned All-Conference USA acclaim last season. He led Middle Tennessee with a 12.2 scoring average. He also dished out 44 assists, shot 34 percent from 3-point range and hit 81.6 percent from the free throw line.

Leveque, who started his career at South Carolina, has grabbed 444 career rebounds and blocked 92 shots.

“I give this team, obviously, length. I’m 6-10,” Leveque said. “I see myself fitting in rim protecting, grabbing rebounds, finishing around the rim and just getting my teammates open. We have one of the best scorers in the country. My job is getting those guys open to help us win games.”

Lawrence remembers watching the Aggies win a big game on television. When he saw A&M upset No. 2 Alabama, 67-61, last March he couldn’t help but ask questions.

Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports
Wildens Leveque spent three seasons in the SEC at South Carolina before heading to UMass.

“Who’s No. 4 (Taylor)  and who’s No. 23 (Radford)? Them boys can go,” he recalled. “Watching that game, I can promise you, I didn’t think I’d end up here. That was my last thought.”

Lawrence now feels like he belongs here.

“I feel like I fit in with the playing style,” he said. “I want ya’ll to know I’m bringing a little bit of extra scoring. Other than that, just intensity, energy, defense and just trying to be one of the hardest-playing players out there.

“For me, being a fifth-year senior, coming into my last year with an experienced group of guys… we’re going to be really good.”

Carter echoed those thoughts.

“I play a certain way that I think fits in with Buzz and the system here,” Carter said. “I’m glad I’m here. I’m loving every day of it.

“We’re going to be good. It’s all on us. Buzz is going to coach us the way he loves to coach. He’s going to be intense. We’ve got a lot of returners, so it’s going to be a fun year.”

A junior, Carter brings two years of playing experience. He’s known as a tenacious defender, but also shot 45.6 percent from the field and hit 53 times from 3-point range.

He was immediately impressed with the team he joined.

“I think we have a lot of great players here,” Carter said. “Every day in practice I think ‘ooh that was tough.’ I say that a lot. That was a good move. Somebody might hit a tough shot. Every day something is going on. We have a lot of good athletes and a lot of good basketball players.”

Carter, who is from Titusville, Fla., said playing in the Southeastern Conference was a goal. He admitted, though, he was not familiar with Texas A&M or Williams until the SEC Tournament last season.

A&M reached the tournament final.

“What’s actually crazy I didn’t know who Buzz was until I got into the portal,” Carter said. “My dad knew who he was. My dad loved him. I never really watched him. Once they entered the SEC Tournament, that’s when I started watching them. I was like, ‘OK, now I see what’s going on.’”

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Transfers poised to help A&M meet lofty expectations this season

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