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Know Thy Enemy: Texas A&M

Photo Credit Texas A&M Athletics

Buzz Williams tenure with Texas A&M has been underwhelming to say the least. After last season’s 8-10 campaign, Williams will be feeling the heat this year. It’s not time for the Aggies to shop around just yet but should this year end in another losing record the former Virginia Tech coach may be forced to pack his bags. 

RETURNING PLAYERS 

Hassan Diarra 

Andre Gordon 

Quenton Jackson 

Hayden Hefner 

NOTABLE LOSSES 

Jonathan Aku 

Jay Jay Chandler 

Savion Flagg 

Kevin Marfo 

Emanuel Miller 

Jaxson Robinson 

INCOMING PLAYERS 

Javonte Brown-Ferguson (UCONN) 

Henry Coleman (Duke) 

Ethan Henderson (Arkansas) 

Aaron Johnson-Cash (Grayson CC) 

Manny Obaseki 

Ashton Smith 

Wade Taylor 

Marcus Williams (Wyoming) 

PROJECTED LINEUP 

Starters: 

G Andre Gordon, 6’2 Jr. 

G Manny Obaseki, 6’4 Fr. 

G Quenton Jackson, 6’5 Gr. 

F Ethan Henderson, 6’8 Sr. 

F Javonte Brown-Ferguson, 6’11 So. 

Bench: 

G Hassan Diarra, 6’2 So. 

G Marcus Williams, 6’2 So. 

F Henry Coleman, 6’7 So. 

F Aaron Joshnson-Cash, 6’6 Rs. Jr. 

G Wade Taylor, 5’10 Fr. 

F Ashton Smith, 6’9 Fr. 

ANALYSIS 

Buzz Williams did a solid job finding talent for the Aggies this year. But, he also only retained four scholarship players. Short of recruiting the 1992 Dream Team, not much will make up for losing the majority of your roster. 

The most notable of A&M’s returning talent is Quenton Jackson. Averaging 10.4 PPG, Jackson was one of the Aggies’ two 10+ PPG scorers last season (the other, Emanuel Miller, transferred to TCU). Last season saw significant growth in the guard’s long-range shooting. Jackson shot just 24.4 percent from deep through the 19-20 season, but was able to shoot 41.1 percent last year. Outside of scoring, Jackson is valued as a perimiter defender. Over the last two seasons, Jackson has shown his disruptive capabilities by averaging 1.2 steals per game. As a graduate student, Jackson’s experience will be highly valued by a team that desperately needs to get its act together.  

The only other returning upper-classman for the Aggies is Andre Gordon. Another guard, the rising junior averaged 8.3 PPG last season. Last season’s assist leader (2.7 per game), Gordon will likely be A&M’s lead playmaker this year. Gordon is no stranger to leading a team. In high school he was a dual-threat QB and held offers from the likes of Cincinatti and Iowa St.  

One of just two four-star recruits Williams has brought to College Station prior to this year, Hassan Diarra had a middling freshman campaign. The former top-100 recruit averaged 5.8 PPG last year. Diarra began the year strong, averaging 9 PPG over his first six games. He then went dark, averaging just 3 PPG over his next six. To his credit, Diarra finished the season with a solid outting against Vanderbilt in which he scored 10 points on 3-of-5 shooting from deep. Diarra has shown tremendous promise as a defender. Long for his height, the 6’2 guard recorded six steals in his first game as a D-1 player. 

One problem Texas A&M will face this season is height. After returning exactly zero forwards, Coach Williams will have to turn to his incoming class to find depth down low. Standing 6-11, Javonte Brown-Ferguson is the Aggies’ tallest player and will likely be their starting center. A transfer from UCONN, Brown-Ferguson only played in 2 games for the Huskies and averaged two points and one rebound.  

Other than Brown-Ferguson, the Aggies’ lead forwards will be transfers Ethan Henderson and Henry Coleman. Henderson played the last three seasons for Arkansas. While the sample size is low, Henderson averaged 6 minutes per game last season, he has shown potential as a rebounder and shot blocker when given playing time. In the two games Henderson played 15-or-more minutes last year, he blocked three shots and averaged 5.5 rebounds per game. Coleman was a four-star recruit from Trinity Episcopal School, but he rarely saw the floor at Duke last year. The 6’7 sophomore only played 5 minutes per game and averaged a little more than a point and a rebound on the season. 247Sports’ No. 55 player in the class of 2020, Coleman certainly has the potential to be something special for Texas A&M. 

Manny Obaseki is the highest ranked recruit the Aggies have landed in the Buzz Williams era. Ranked No. 33 by 247Sports and No. 37 by ESPN, Obaseki barely missed the cut off for five-star status. Obaseki is one of the most athletic players in this year’s freshman class. For now, he predominantly uses that athleticism to score in the paint, but scouts believe that his mixture of quickness and length could lead to a special defensive ability. Obaseki has developed a long range game in the last year, but that aspect of his game is still coming along.  

Marcus Williams may be the best new addition to this Texas A&M team. A zero-star recruit out of high school, Williams defied scouts with his productivity at Wyoming last year. Williams averaged 14.8 PPG and 4.3 assists on the year. The 6’2 guard cemented his role as the Cowboys’ lead scorer early in the season. Williams scored 20 points in two of his first three games. Williams’ largest output of the season came against Denver. He ended the game with 30 points to go along with five assists and three steals. Somewhat of a streaky shooter, Williams shot 0-5 from deep multiple times. The next step in his game is adding consistency in his long range shooting and playmaking. Williams has also shown promise as a defender. The young guard recorded seven steals against San Jose State in the first round of the Mountain West Championship. 

Aaron Johnson-Cash was a late addition to the program. Transfering from Grayson CC, not much is known about the redshirt junior’s game. To his credit, Johnson-Cash averaged a respectable 15.32 points on 45.7 percent shooting from deep along with 7 rebounds. The competition in the SEC is a big step up from D-II basketball, but if the 6’6 forward can continue to shoot the ball from deep he will have a solid role in the Aggies’ offense this year. 

The final additions to this Texas A&M roster are Wade Taylor and Ashton Smith. Taylor is a 5’10 four-star point guard. Scouts have raved about his hustle and coachability so don’t be surprised if Taylor earns playing time early in the year. Taylor is known for his speed and shooting. He thrives off of fastbreaks but still needs to develop his half-court game.  

At 6’9, Smith is the second tallest Aggie this year. While only a three-star recruit, Smith’s height and 230-pound frame should earn him minutes early in the year. Scouts have been critical of his hustle, but when Smith is in the game, he should be a reliable big.  

Despite losing nine of the 13 players that saw the floor last year, this Texas A&M roster does not lack talent. The biggest question for this team is one of identity. It is very likely that this team’s starting lineup will look completely different by the end of the season. While Coach Williams has talent to work with, this year will most likely be about making a team out of strangers. 

PROJECTION: At least they’re better than Vanderbilt 

Ceiling: Outside Top 25 

Floor: Pitiful 

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