Coach: Mark Turgeon (49-21 at Texas A&M, 202-140 overall)
If Chinemelu Elonu stayed in school for the 2009-2010 campaign, this could have been a very, very special season for Texas A&M. Without him, the Aggies will have to rely on some youngsters to fill the void and nobody is going to replace him any time soon on either end of the floor. What it leaves is another Aggie team that will be good and should reach the NCAA Tournament, but not good enough to make a deep tournament run.
Key Losses for A&M: G Josh Carter, C Chinemelu Elonu
The perimeter returns everybody except do-it-all wing Josh Carter. However, this was not the most consistent group a year ago. Derrick Roland struggled to find his shot most of last season, but he still started 30 games. Donald Sloan is the scorer of the bunch and the main ball handler. After averaging 11.8 points per game and having a two-to-one assist-to-turnover ratio last season, big things are expected from Sloan for his senior campaign. B.J. Holmes had a great sophomore campaign, averaging 8.8 points and 1.4 assists. He can handle the ball and is also an extremely consistent outside shooter. Dash Harris proved to be yet another capable point guard during his freshman campaign and should play a bigger role as a sophomore.
It is in the frontcourt where things get a little more disconcerting. David Loubeau and Nathan Walkup both averaged less than 14 minutes per game last year and they will both be asked to carry a much bigger load this time around. Loubeau is a solid rebounder, especially on the offensive end. He is not the most dynamic scorer around, but he might be the best option at power forward just because of his ability to hit the glass. Walkup is the other returning option. Unlike Loubeau, Walkup can stretch out the defense with his outside shooting ability. No matter who ends up starting, Loubeau and Walkup both need to step up their games and fight for a starting job with Turner and Roberson.
Who’s In for Texas A&M:
Coach Mark Turgeon has brought in yet another solid recruiting class. Wings Naji Hibbert and Jeremy Adams will push the returning players for minutes. Hibbert is a fine shooter and will use his 6-6 frame to finish around the basket. Small forward Khris Middleton is a great shooter who can immediately provide an offensive spark off the bench. Power forwards Ray Turner and Kourtney Roberson are both capable of making an impact right away and both will be given every opportunity to contribute.
While those four fight it out for a starting job, Bryan Davis will be the go-to-guy under the basket. The 6-9 senior averaged 10.8 points and 6.5 rebounds last season and should get a lot more opportunities to put up big numbers now that Elonu is gone. At 6-9 and 240 pounds, Davis is a bruiser under the basket and a solid defender. Even when he is not blocking shots, he will use his large frame to make it difficult for anybody to score around the basket.
Final 2009-2010 Texas A&M Projection:
Sloan and Davis are a good duo to build around and Holmes should be a player who will score in bunches this year, but there are questions. If Roland’s shot is not falling it will force a freshman into the lineup. While that might help in the rebounding department and add some size to the perimeter, this team needs Roland’s defense and experience. The other obvious issue is in the frontcourt where somebody needs to try and replace Elonu. In the end, Texas A&M will win some big games and make it to the NCAA Tournament, but their expectations should end there.