We did it! We made it to the beginning of basketball season, as our Aggies open with an exhibition game against St. Edwards tonight. It won’t count in the standings, but it will certainly give us a good look at the new roster.
We covered our new guys earlier in the week, and now it’s time to talk returning contributors.
The Returning Contributors
Tavario Miller (Senior F; 6’8” 227lbs) - The lone Senior on this year’s roster has carved out a nice role as a defensive substitute, and he should certainly continue to receive those minutes this season. Tavario may be undersized, but he works extremely hard on defense and ends up with more than his fair share of rebounds. His level of comfort on offense prevented him from grabbing a full starter’s role, but he can certainly provide two plus skills in 3-5 minute bursts. Solid veteran, defined role, and a ton of effort. It’s nice to have him back.
- 2015-16 Average: 10.8 minutes; 2.1 points, 3.7 rebounds; 44% FG
Tonny Trocha-Morelos (Junior C; 6’10” 224lbs) - This guy had my vote for most improved player during last year’s campaign. He never quite crashed the crunch-time five, but he certainly saw no shortage of game action. He doesn’t impose his will down low… but that’s OK on this roster. His shooting will provide a nice balance to the bang-boom-smash front line of Williams/Davis, and he appears to have emerged as the new emotional leader after the offseason. One final note… this guy stuck around for two years to qualify in an era where players transfer every time the wind changes. He wanted to become an Aggie, and he got it done. My bet to become the new crowd favorite.
- 2015-16 Average: 17.4 minutes; 7.0 points, 4.0 rebounds; 46% FG, 37% 3PT
Kobie Eubanks (Sophomore SG; 6’5” 206 lbs) - Eubanks didn’t contribute much last year… but that was a function of his circumstance (joined midway through the season) and not his talent level (former Top 100 recruit). The call to bury him on the bench and not upset the apple cart was a good one, but I’m looking forward to an unleashed Kobie in 2016-2017. He should be able to challenge for guard minutes on a squad that certainly needs depth in that area.
- 2015-16 Average: 4.5 minutes; 1.5 points (only played in eight games)
The New Core
Admon Gilder (Sophomore G; 6’4” 198 lbs) - Every A&M preview I’ve seen this year leads with a discussion of either Davis or Hogg, but Admon Gilder is our most important player next year. Sure, that statement is partially driven by the ineligibility of JJ Caldwell (incoming four-star PG) and the graduation of our two best ball handlers (Alex Caruso and Alex Collins), but the original point still stands. Gilder is a pure scorer who would thrive on the wing, but circumstances will require him to play the point guard position this year. He’s certainly capable of playing this role, but the search for a backup PG that can consistently allow Gilder the freedom to get buckets might be the biggest early question of the young season.
- 2015-16 Average: 20.4 minutes; 7.0 points, .9 steals, 1.4 assists; 43% FG, 76% FT
DJ Hogg (Sophomore F; 6’9” 220 lbs) - Y’all. DJ Hogg can shoot. He did a nice job developing the other parts of his game over his freshman year, and he even gave us some solid minutes at PF when the situation required it… but many of our offensive sets rely on one simple and undeniable truth: You can’t leave DJ Hogg open.
His versatility is going to be a huge asset, as well, as he can play (and defend) three separate positions. He’s best suited on the wing as a spot-up shooter, but his ball handling and post offense are good enough to allow for multiple rotation combinations. Bombs away.
- 2015-16 Average: 18.2 minutes; 6.2 points, 2.9 rebounds; 38% FG, 33% 3PT
Tyler Davis (Sophomore C; 6’10” 270 lbs) - We might have struck gold here, as Davis came to Aggieland as a ready-made SEC post player. He schooled opponent upperclassmen on the blocks from day one with a dizzying array of post moves, and he executed them with this graceful simplicity that simply isn’t supposed to be there at 18. He was so good, in fact, that the obvious question (will he leave early?) started to bounce around this Spring.
The good news for us: He didn’t. I think it’s a good move, too, as he won’t be able to blow people away with athleticism at the next level. It will take a mastery of deft “below the rim” finishing moves and a consistent 15-17 foot jumper to stick in the NBA, and he doesn’t quite have either one yet. Particularly the latter. He’ll work on expanding that part of his game while wearing the Maroon and White, and I’m honestly not sure the SEC is ready. He was a deserving First-Team All-SEC selection, and he’s about to make a huuuuuuge leap.
- 2015-16 Average: 22.8 minutes; 11.3 points, 6.2 rebounds, 1.1 blocks; 66% FG
One final note on the Davis/Hogg/Gilder core: These three spectacular freshman played big minutes on a senior-laden Sweet Sixteen squad before cutting loose and and attempting to lead their own era back to the NCAA tournament. Does that sound familiar? It should.
Roland, Sloan, and Davis joined the fray during Acie Law IV’s Senior season, and their early involvement was a baptism by fire. All three survived and proved that they could contribute in big games, and even though they deferred to the senior leaders we got the feeling that things would be just fine when they had the reins. I get that exact same feeling with these three.
Davis, Hogg, and Gilder are primed and ready to lead the next era of Texas A&M Basketball.
BTHO St. Edwards