Texas A&M Aggies
Overall Rank: #51
Conference Rank: #5 Big 12
2006-07: 27-7, 13-3, 2nd
2006-07 postseason: NCAA
After Coach Billy Gillispie left for Kentucky, Texas A&M needed a proven winner to continue the work that Coach Gillispie had started. And they hope they got that guy in Coach Mark Turgeon. It was not long ago the Aggies were worse than horrible, but Acie Law IV, among others, put an end to that. The question is whether or not Texas A&M can continue their winning ways without Coach Gillispie and Law, or will they slowly descend back to the Big XII basement.
Law not only led the team in points and assists, he was the heart and soul of the team. Over his career Law saw his team go from winless in the conference to a Sweet Sixteen appearance. He was the piece that held it together and he will certainly be missed. Losing Antanas Kavaliauskas and Marlon Pompey makes things even worse. Kavaliauskas averaged 11.9 points and 6.3 rebounds, while Pompey added 3.5 points and 2.5 rebounds off the bench. Logan Lee, Brian Blackburn, Josh Johnston and Slade Weishuhn will not be returning after seeing limited action last year.
Yet, the simple loss of a few players is not going to slide Texas A&M down too far or for too long. Center DeAndre Jordan is one of the best recruits in the nation and the seven foot center is an amazing athlete for a guy his size. He has bulked up enough to battle in the paint against the best in the conference as a freshman. Fellow big man Denzel Bowles is expected to play an important role off the bench. Nathan Walkup and Derrek Lewis will add depth on the wings. Walkup is good scorer and a more than capable rebounder from the small forward spot and will add a much needed athletic scorer to the squad. Diminutive point guard B.J. Holmes will not be replacing Law’s numbers any time soon, but he has potential. Holmes, due to his 5-10 stature, will likely spend all of his time at the point, but he is a decent scorer who could play at the two guard spot.
Who to Watch:
Joseph Jones returns to the frontcourt after averaging 13.4 points and 6.8 rebounds last year. The two time second-team all-conference honoree is a solid rebounder and his shooting ability can take him all the way out to the three-point line. Jones worked very well with glue guy Kavaliauskas last season and it could be even better with Jordan under the basket. Bryan Davis and Chinemelu Elonu have plenty of potential to make a huge impact in the paint. Davis saw action in 31 games and averaged 1.9 points and 2.6 rebounds as a freshman. With a year of experience under his belt, Davis has all the tools to be a surprise player in the conference. Elonu is in the same boat. The 6-10 sophomore did not see much action last year either, but he is a great athlete who can be a major force in the paint on the defensive end.
It will certainly look different without Law leading the way, but Josh Carter, Dominique Kirk and Donald Sloan form a talented perimeter group. How productive they can be without Law remains to be seen, but just as easily they could emerge from the shadow of Law into superstar status of their own. Carter is a great long range shooter and shot 50 percent from beyond the arc. He is not just an outside shooter and Carter has the athleticism to get to the basket. Kirk is renowned for his defensive abilities, but over the years the senior has been able to develop into a solid all around contributor. Sophomore Donald Sloan was the sixth man for the Aggies as a freshman and he will step into a starting role this year. Sloan is a great scorer who can get to the basket or hit the long ball. His outside shooting could be more consistent, but that will come with time. This is a more athletic team than last year, but a team that does not have a leader yet. Without Law and Coach Gillispie, it may take some time for the Aggies to come together as a unit and find their new identity.
Projected Post-season Tournament: NIT
Projected Starting Five:
Donald Sloan, Sophomore, Guard, 5.2 points per game
Dominique Kirk, Senior, Guard, 7.2 points per game
Josh Carter, Junior, Guard, 11.8 points per game
Joseph Jones, Senior, Forward, 13.4 points per game
DeAndre Jordan, Freshman, Center, DNP last season