For a large part of the 2014-15 season, it looked like Texas A&M was going to make its way into the 2015 NCAA Tournament. However, losing four of their last five games to end the year cost the Aggies that chance.
The non-conference schedule went as planned for the Aggies, winning all but three games and honestly none of the wins were value wins. However, the losses came to Dayton, Baylor and Kansas State, so it’s tough to hang your head with that.
In the second game of SEC play, A&M pushed Kentucky to double overtime and outplayed the Wildcats for all but a couple minutes in the game. It was able to rattle off six straight wins including games at LSU, Tennessee and Auburn. However, losses to Florida and Alabama to close the regular season and then to Auburn in the SEC Tournament cost A&M a trip to the big dance.
Key Offseason Departures: Kourtney Robinson (Forward), Jordan Green (Guard), Peyton Allen (Guard), Antwan Space (Forward)
There were four key departures this offseason for the Aggies, all of whom played at least 12 minutes per game last year. The two biggest losses were Kourtney Robinson and Jordan Green, who played 24 minutes per game each.
Robinson was a starter for Texas A&M and averaged over eight points and six rebounds while providing toughness under the hoop and leadership. Green shot 38 percent from deep last season while averaging six points per game.
Peyton Allen is a loss that will hurt down the road as the freshman was simply recruited over. However, he’s now playing for Wichita State after playing 14 minutes a game last season and committing less than one turnover per game.
Key Additions: Tyler Davis (Center), Elijah Thomas (Center), D.J. Hogg (Small Forward), Admon Gilder (Shooting Guard)
These four incoming freshmen have a couple things in common. First, they are all from Texas, and second, they make up the best recruiting class in Texas A&M history. Thanks to assistant coach Rick Stansbury, the Aggies were able to recruit Texas at an extremely high level for the 2015-16 season. Depending what site you look at all four players are ranked as either a four-star or five-star and has put A&M on the map heading into the year. It was clear the Aggies wanted to get big guys as Davis and Thomas are two of the top eight centers in the class while Hogg is the number six small forward. Expect all four players to see time this year and be main contributors.
After being criticized for having a weak non-conference schedule last season, the Aggies made sure to improve that for 2015-16. They will play games against Texas, Florida Gulf Coast, Baylor and Kansas State while also taking a trip to play Arizona State. Also in the mix is a home game against UNC-Asheville, a team that is used to playing in the NCAA Tournament.
Overall, the non-conference is set up for the Aggies to pile on wins but there will be challenges. I expect them to go 8-2 heading into SEC play. There is a January 30 game against Iowa State which will break up conference play. In the conference the schedule works out to where A&M only has to play Kentucky once and it will get the Wildcats at home.
Final Preview and Prediction
While the recruiting class is nice, it’s really the returning players that have Texas A&M in the Today’s U Top 25. The core is the backcourt made up of Jalen Jones, Danuel House, Alex Caruso along with forward Alex Robinson might not be household names, but they can compete with anyone in the country.
House and Jones are both electric scorers, averaging over 13 points a game last year while Caruso does a little bit of everything. The soon to be senior leader had a stat line of 9.1 points, 4.5 rebounds, 5.5 assist and 2.1 steals per game last year.
Expect House to be a candidate for All-SEC Team while the Aggies will be in the NCAA Tournament this season.