#82 Texas A&M Men's Basketball 2013-2014 Preview

Texas A&M Aggies

2013-2014 Overall Rank: #82
Conference Rank: #9 SEC

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Year two at Texas A&M went a little better than year one for Coach Billy Kennedy. A late slump, where the Aggies lost four of their last five regular season games, kept the Aggies out of the postseason, but a winning record is a step in the right direction. NCAA Tournament hopes are probably a year away since this is such a young squad, but a win or two in the NIT would get the momentum going forward for a much better season in 2014-2015.

2012-13 Record: 18-15, 7-11
2012-13 Postseason: None
Coach: Billy Kennedy
Coach Record: 32-33 at Texas A&M, 243-212 overall

Who’s Out:
The Aggies did lose their best perimeter scorer in Elston Turner and their best interior scorer in Ray Turner. Elston, a 6-5 wing, could score from anywhere on the floor and he was the guy the Aggies would rely on when their offense got stagnant. And that happened quite a bit. Elston ended his senior season averaging 17.5 points per game. Ray, a 6-9 forward, was a relatively consistent scorer in the paint and averaged 9.2 points and 6.2 rebounds. Andrew Young and Jarod Jahns provided just about all of the depth in the frontcourt. Young was a tough interior workhorse who would help out on the glass while Jahns, a former walk-on, could occasionally knock down some mid-range jumpers. Little used Grant Jolly is also gone, which leaves very little returning frontcourt talent.

Who’s In:
Antwan Space, Jamal Jones, Tavario Miller and Dylan Johns will be asked to immediately bolster the frontcourt. Space spent one year at Florida State where he played limited minutes in ten games before suffering a season ending injury back in 2011-2012. He is a tough 6-8, 232 pound power forward who can hit the glass effectively and that is all the Aggies may need him to do for now. Jones has some collegiate experience as well after spending a couple seasons at Lee College. Jones is 6-8, but he weighs in at just 186 pounds. Ideally, he is a small forward who can use his size and length to attack the basket, yet he could be used as an undersized four if frontcourt depth and inexperience becomes as big of a problem as it probably will. Miller and Johns will both need some time to develop their games and add a bit of strength. However, they may not have the luxury of time or be given every opportunity to compete for quality minutes. The backcourt adds Juan Aparicio, Kyle Dobbins, Davonte Fitzgerald and Shawn Smith. Fitzgerald is an interesting 6-7 true freshman who can play multiple positions. Smith, who redshirted last season, is a talented combo guard who is capable of making a significant contribution this season.

Who to Watch:
But there is returning talent on the perimeter and minutes will not be all that easy to come by. Alex Caruso had a great freshman campaign, averaging 5.5 points, 3.4 assists, 3.2 rebounds and 1.8 steals. His 61 steals set a new freshman record at Texas A&M. Caruso did not look to score too much last season, but he is a capable shooter and, at 6-5, has the size to get to the basket. Fabyon Harris will likely be the new go-to-scorer. He knocked down an impressive 45.3 percent of his attempts from long range and averaged 12.0 points. He is just 5-11, but he can work his way into the paint and at least get to the foul line on occasion. J-Mychal Reese did not live up to his potential as a freshman, but that happens with freshmen. The point guard committed more turnovers than he dished out assists and that must change if he is going to stay in the starting point guard spot. Caruso, Harris and Reese were all first year players for Texas A&M in 2012-2013 and they are growing together. Junior Jordan Green got pushed out a bit by those newcomers, but his shooting was pretty bad too. This crop of newcomers could lead to another drop in production from Green. That may be bad news for Green, yet it is a great sign that Coach Kennedy is bringing in talent that can contribute immediately.

Final Projection:
But in the usually tough SEC, the play of the frontcourt will be the difference between a surprisingly good season and another where the Aggies struggle to stay above .500. The pressure falls on Kourtney Roberson, a 6-9, 244 pound junior. He had a breakout sophomore season in which he averaged 6.9 points and 6.6 rebounds. Roberson can eat up a lot of space in the paint, yet it will be interesting to see how he performs without Ray Turner by his side. Roberson will start up front and Texas A&M needs another starter out of the newcomers and as much depth as they can possibly find. Even if Roberson emerges as a more dangerous scorer than he was as an underclassman, the frontcourt still has a lot of issues.

Projected Postseason Tournament: NIT

Projected Starting Five:
J-Mychal Reese, Sophomore, Guard, 6.2 points per game
Fabyon Harris, Senior, Guard, 12.0 points per game
Alex Caruso, Sophomore, Guard, 5.5 points per game
Antwan Space, Sophomore, Forward, DNP last season
Kourtney Roberson, Junior, Forward, 6.9 points per game

By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 63.7 (264th in nation, 10th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 62.1 (56, 5)
Field-Goal Percentage: 44.0 (126, 4)
Field-Goal Defense: 41.5 (107, 8)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 5.0 (290, 13)  
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 35.61 (87, 3)
Free-Throw Percentage: 70.5 (137, 2)
Rebound Margin: 1.1 (144, 8)
Assists Per Game: 11.5 (262, 11)
Turnovers Per Game: 13.3 (179, 9)


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