Texas A&M had some surprising success last year in Buzz Williams’ first season. He already seems to be have things turning around, much sooner than was to be expected. The Aggies return a lot of talent from last year’s team and hopes to be a factor in the conference.
2019 Record: 16-14 (10-8), 7th in SEC
The Aggies exceeded all expectations a season ago and were the surprise of the SEC. Most preseason predictions had Texas A&M finishing at the bottom half of the conference including a Sports Illustrated prediction that had them as low as 13th. Instead they went 10-8 and finished seventh.
Ten wins was the highest conference wins since the 2015-2016 season. The Aggies had a bad out of conference showing at 6-6 but seemed to get better as the season went on. They were riding big wins against No.17 Auburn and Arkansas heading into the SEC Tournament before the season ended.
The Aggies went with basically a seven man rotation that featured balanced scoring led by senior Josh Nebo. Nebo led the team with 12.5 points per game and wreaked havoc defensively with nearly two blocks per game.
Early season struggles with non conference opponents left the Aggies at just 131st in KenPom. A four game losing streak that included losses to Harvard, Temple and Fairfield put Buzz Williams’s squad in a deep hole they struggled to get out of the rest of the year. Avoiding a similar fate this year will be crucial in a shortened season.
Projected Starting Lineup: Andre Gordon (G, So), Quentin Jackson (G, Sr), Savion Flagg (F, Sr), Emanuel Miller (F, So), Kevin Marfo (F, Sr)
Andre Gordon was thrown into the starting role last season after 2018 starter TJ Starks was suspended indefinitely and eventually transferred from the program. Gordon had a mildly successful year but struggled shooting as well as distributing the ball. His assist to turnover was a woeful 0.83.
Former JUCO product Quentin Jackson was a solid starter a year ago as well. Jackson provides good size at the guard position which helped give him the third highest steal percentage in the SEC last season. He has good speed and has shown flashes of greatness in transition opportunities.
Savion Flagg will be the player to watch on this Aggies team. The senior made the Second Team All-SEC in the preseason and leads all returning scorers from last year at 10.1ppg. After having down numbers last season, expect him to explode this year and to show why he’s one of the league’s top players.
Big guys Emanuel Miller and Kevin Marfo secure the rest of the frontcourt. Canadian native Miller stepped up in a big way his freshman year with 6.4ppg and 6.3rpg. Graduate transfer Kevin Marfo will be all over the boards for the Aggies as he comes back from leading the nation in rebounds a season ago.
Jay Chandler provided meaningful minutes from last season and can come off the bench to provide depth in the backcourt. Cashius McNeilly spent his first season on campus redshirted after a foot injury hindered him last year. McNeilly has reportedly looked very good in practice this year and has fans excited to see what the top recruit from their 2019 class can do.
A pair of highly ranked guards will be hoping to make an immediate impact of the bench. Jaxson Robinson is a skillful ball handler who can provide good production offensively. Reports are expecting an adjustment period initially but don’t be surprised if his development becomes more noticeable towards the latter half of the season.
Hassan Diarra is the other newcomer who should settle in to the starting point guard position for years to come. He has impressed the coaches with the intensity and effort he brings both offensively and defensively. Diarra will be a viable option to relieve Gordon should the sophomore guard struggle at times like last season.
A&M will be a pesky opponent for SEC teams this season. The senior trio of Flagg, Jackson and Marfo anchor a good starting lineup that has experience and proven ability. Buzz has the roots of a successful program planted with two underclassmen in starting roles and a trio of very talented freshmen coming off the bench.
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