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Meet the Aggies: It's Bouncyball Season

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With hoops season around the corner, it's time to meet Billy Kennedy's squad.

Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

The 2015 Aggie Basketball is ready to kick off, and the program has the most excitement behind it since Billy Kennedy took over the program. With that said, let's meet the cast of characters for this year's NCAA Tournament team (yeah, we went there).

The Seniors

Alex Caruso

Senior

Basically everything

DerekAggie06 - For the first time in Caruso’s career at A&M, the Aggies finally have talent to rotate more than 1 player at each position. For a guy that can play any of the 3 guard spots on the floor, this is huge from a gameplan perspective. We all know about Caruso’s vision, defense, and ability to distribute in the open court, but how his jumper looks early this year will tell a lot about where this team may end up this year. I’ll keep beating the drum, he’s a consistent jumper away from being a lock as an NBA draft pick.

gigthem08 - Caruso can do everything... but for the first time in his career, we won't ask him to. Which is key, because his prior usage rate has proven untenable for a full College Basketball season. A healthy/rested Caruso in March could be the difference between this year and last.

JDMyatt - With each season he’s grown and improved this game, so has the A&M basketball team. His freshman year, the thought of going to the postseason was laughable. Now he enters his final year having missed the NCAA Tournament by essentially one game. He’s the only player who will have spent all four years in the Billy Kennedy era, and hopefully the tough journey will finally get its payoff and cap off what has been a fantastic career.

Danuel House

Senior

Guard

DerekAggie06 - You don’t get ranked as the 50th best player in all of college basketball this season for nothing. An injury late in the season benched House for the remainder of the year, and it showed how much the Aggies depended on his scoring ability. House will still be looked at to be the leading scorer for the season, but the influx of scoring talent around him should lift some of the stress from the athletic guard.

gigthem08 - He can shoot, he can finish, and he's capable of dropping ten points during any given 90 seconds of play. One of the best 'heat check' guys I can remember seeing. A quick look at his effect on last year's conference run (10-4 with; 1-4 without) tells you all you need to know. And this year… he looks even better.

JDMyatt - Arguably the most hyped-up player A&M’s had since Acie Law IV was on campus. 1st Team All-SEC, the senior’s shooting range goes out to midcourt and he became more and more comfortable driving to basket and creating his own shot as the season progressed. He can take a game over at a moment’s notice and there’s no doubt who will have the ball in their hands in close game.

Jalen Jones

Senior

Forward

DerekAggie06 - The modus operandi to defeat the Aggies the last few seasons has been no secret. Play a soft zone on defense and force them to score from outside. Jalen Jones provides a zone breaking capability for the Aggies on offense with his ability to step outside the paint and hit the jumper. The improved depth and talent at the guard positions should go a long way for both Jones and the Aggies at avoiding the all to often scoring droughts when teams go to a zone defense.

gigthem08 - He’s a solid rebounder and finisher around the rim, but his range sets him apart from the other bigs in the conference. He can flash to the high post and drain a 17-footer all day, which has allowed us to finally solve the dreaded "zone defense" problem. Can occasionally get hot from three, but I feel the team is best served with him inside the arc.

JDMyatt - The X-Factor to if A&M wants to make the tournament and beyond. Looking at the results last year, one characteristic behind most A&M losses was an off-night or absence from Jones (DNP vs Kentucky, 32% FG percentage in Aggie L’s). Can grab rebounds and if he’s on from midrange, the floor can open up a ton for House and company.

The Fab Four

DJ Hogg

Freshman

Forward

DerekAggie06 - A&M has struggled in recent years to find their consistent, go-to 3 point shooter. Hogg definitely has the ability to be that guy very early on for the Aggies this season. His size gives him some comfort outside to not have to rush many shots as defenders are closing in on him, and he’s quick enough to pump fake and get to the rim as well. As is the case with incoming freshman, adjusting to the size and speed of D1 hoops will be the thing to watch for with Hogg.

gigthem08 - Hogg’s primary attribute is scoring, but he’s a traditional 6’8" spot-up shooter. He can drive when he has to, but you want this guy coming off screens and dropping bombs from deep. Could develop into a "Josh Carter" type contributor.

JDMyatt - A note from preseason practices and scrimmages is this A&M team likes to shoot, and DJ Hogg is one of the main guys behind it. If he can provide some consistency from 3-point land, he could be a perfect dish-out for House and the point guards.

Admon Gilder

Freshman

Guard

DerekAggie06 - Gilder is going to be the 6th Man on this year’s team, and that’s not a bad thing. He’ll be a starter next season, but Gilder will be the scoring focal point for the Aggies as they rotate players off the bench 6-8 minutes into the half. If House or Caruso get in early foul trouble, Gilder could start seeing some significant minutes as a true freshman. He’s going to be a huge asset for Billy Kennedy this year.

gigthem08 - This kid is a pure scorer. He won't hurt you on defense and he's not a bad passer, but he's on the court to fill it up. Plain and simple. Could see him in a "Davonte Fitzgerald 2013" role, where second unit possessions are run entirely through him.

JDMyatt - One of the tough losses from last year was the transfer of Bow and Arrow 3-Point Specialist Peyton Allen. While it hard to see him go, it was for high-profile scorers like Gilder that sent him away. His scoring ability could be a potentially great filler for when House or Caruso need a break.

Tyler Davis

Freshman

Center

DerekAggie06 - Davis is a strong big man that knows he’s a strong big man. He’s got great footwork and awareness down low, which is something we haven’t seen in Aggieland for far too long. I think the Aggies will ask a lot of Davis from day one, and expect him to be a starter very quickly, if not with the first regular season game.

gigthem08 - Above-average post game for a true fish… he has good body positioning and strong, fluid movement. Will likely benefit from stretches where Jalen is also working down low. Should draw plenty of fouls, and he shot around 70% from the line in high school. A starter from day one.

JDMyatt - Big weaknesses for the Ags were getting outrebounded and going up against stronger and more physical opponents (see: Baylor, Florida). With the large frame of Tyler Davis, A&M is hoping to erase that. A true center with decent footwork in his post-game, A&M’s most glaring weakness may become its greatest strength.


Elijah Thomas

Freshman

Forward

DerekAggie06 - I’m a big fan of Thomas. His goofy demeanor is an odd counterpart to the way he plays with a chip on his shoulder. Thomas has great touch on his post move shots. I’d expect the coaches to bring Thomas along slowly this year, but he’s only an injury or some foul trouble away from being a significant contributor this season.

gigthem08 - Playing weight was a bit of an issue in the spring, but Thomas has lost 35 pounds since March and is in the best shape of his career. Where Davis finds space through a variety of post moves, Thomas finds it through brute force. A great pure rebounder and a solid addition down low

JDMyatt - Through his strength, Thomas could give the Ags a tremendous boost fighting for rebounds inside the post. His fight and power down low could lead to offensive rebounds and 2nd chance points down low.

Key Contributors

Alex Robinson

Sophomore

Guard

DerekAggie06 - Robinson has great athleticism to run the point, but last year he tended to force too much rather than letting the game develop for him. We should definitely see big strides from him this season, and I think we’ll see more of a scoring threat from him as well this season.

gigthem08 - He was a coin flip last year. Good Robinson could keep the offense humming, but Bad Robinson ground it to a halt. His minutes this year will be driven by consistency.

JDMyatt - Gotta piggy back off of gigthem08. When Robinson is on his game, A&M’s offense goes to another level, but when he’s off it’s near painful to watch. Has all the tools you need for a great PG, now it just needs to click and come to together for a full season.

Tonny Trocha-Morelos

Sophomore

Center

DerekAggie06 - Once again, the preseason love has been there for the young big man. In his full second season with the team he should definitely find a more consistent role in the rotation. We’ll see some different looks down low based on the opponent. More Davis and Thomas with back to the basket scorers, with Trocha-Morelos seeing more minutes against face-up big men.

gigthem08 - The offense on the blocks still isn’t there… but that’s ok. That’s not what this team needs. He looks bigger, stronger, and quicker on defense, which should earn him a spot in the rotation down low.

JDMyatt -One of the biggest highlights out of Aggie camp is the low-post presence of Trocha-Morelos. The Maroon and White scrimmage saw a lot of blocks and great defense from the sophomore from Colombia. It should be interesting to see what the rotation looks like between Trocha-Morelos and the incoming freshmen, Davis and Thomas.

Tavario Miller

Junior

Forward

DerekAggie06 - Miller has great athleticism and great effort for a Power Forward at the D1 level, but he doesn’t have the size or the scoring threat at a consistent level. His defensive talent allows the coaches to rotate him in the game without putting a lead at risk, but they can’t expect the lead to grow much neither. If his scoring ability has improved over the offseason he could see a larger role this year, but I’d expect him to stay in the 10-15 minutes a game role.

gigthem08 - The ultimate "undersized/max effort/great rebounder" guy, Tavario plays very well within his role. Trocha’s development could impact that role, however, as I’m not entirely sure this rotation has room for two bigs with a limited offensive game. Will be interesting to watch this battle play out.

JDMyatt - Tavario’s offensive limitations make you wonder which lineup suits him best. But he battles underneath the basket and will grab the tough 50/50 rebounds to keep possessions alive.


Anthony Collins

Senior

Guard

DerekAggie06 - Collins is the big question mark for me this season. We’ll likely see him in some early rotations with Caruso, House, and Hogg moving between the 2 and three spots to see where he ends up in the PG rotation between himself, Caruso, and Robinson.

gigthem08 - A pure point guard without a great shot… I’m a bit wary of him and Caruso on the court together. Has looked timid to date, but will likely settle with time.

JDMyatt - Ideally one hopes Collins can hop right in and be a great slash and kick PG for House/Hogg/Gilder. Has had a slow going so far, but he’s a senior who’s shown he can distribute the basketball. Hopefully he can transition and take some PG responsibilities off of Caruso.