Key Departures: Emanuel Miller (–>TCU); Savion Flagg (–>Sam Houston); Jay Jay Chandler (–>S. Alabama); Kevin Marfo (–>Quinnipiac); Jaxson Robinson (–>Arkansas); Jonathan Aku (–>Steven F. Austin)
New In Town: Tyrece Radford (<–VT); Marcus Williams (<–Wyoming); Henry Coleman (<–Duke); Javonte Brown-Ferguson (<–Uconn) Ethan Henderson (<–Arkansas); Manny Obasecki (#33); Wade Taylor (#119); Ashton Smith (#214)
State of the Program:
Buzz Williams is entering year 3 with Texas A&M after successful runs with Marquette and Virginia Tech in his previous HC stints. The difference today is the transfer portal, as he and other coaches attempting to rebuild programs are struggling to hold onto players and gain any traction. Today’s landscape tends to hurt these struggling programs as players bolt after poor seasons, making it difficult for any sense of cohesion and stability to be established, and Texas A&M is no exception. Buzz will have to continue to march on despite losing over half of his roster to transfer, as he will bring in a slew of transfers himself along with a decent recruiting class. A positive for Williams is he gets a couple key contributors back from a season ago in Quenton Jackson (SR), Andre Gordon (JR), and Hassan Diarra (SO). Diarra was a top-100 recruit and has a chance to make a sophomore jump and establish a much larger role for this team. A majority of the remaining rotation will be made up of transfers and Freshmen.
The best of the incoming group will likely be Virginia Tech transfer and former Williams recruit Tyrece Radford (JR). Radford at 6’2” attacks the rim fearlessly and is at his best when attacking off the dribble. He has yet to prove to be a consistent shooter from outside but his lefty stroke is showing improvements. He will come in and battle with a crowded backcourt for minutes, as they have 5 talented guys who will be battling for minutes at the 1-3. G Marcus Williams (SO) will try and make that a 6 man fight as he enters the backcourt group after an All-MWC selection in his breakout FR campaign. Williams is the truest PG of the bunch as he led the Wyoming offense a year ago with ability to attack the paint to score and facilitate, and he could wind up earning a starting PG gig for that reason. A group of F’s also enter via transfer, led by Duke recruit Henry Coleman (SO), who was ranked 55th in last season’s class and has a ton of potential as he’s a gifted athlete and rebounds and dominates on the interior with his strength. He’s a capable small ball 4 at 6’7” due to his motor and strength. To fully take advantage of his potential he needs to develop as a shooter and playmaker, but he can immediately make a difference for the Aggies. Also coming in from Uconn is Javonte Brown-Ferguson (R-FR) who is 6’11”, long, lanky but very much a project at this stage. He has potential to develop as a shot blocker and interior finisher. He will likely be called upon this season as the Aggies will be very thin in the frontcourt. The last transfer is 6’8” Ethan Henderson (JR) out of Arkansas. Henderson never was able to establish a major role at Arkansas but profiles as a versatile defender that can make an impact on the glass and in transition or as a slasher. He won’t be a major production source but is a solid player that will likely see time at the 4 or even as a small ball 5. The best of the Freshman is undoubtedly CG Manny Obasecki (#33) who is a smooth scoring southpaw that can get a bucket at all 3 levels. He’s only 6’4” but uses his handle and quickness to get to his spots and fill it up. He will undoubtedly earn playing time right away as he will immediately be one of the better scorers on the roster. Next up 5’10” PG Wade Taylor (#119), who is undersized but really has plus skill offensively and a smooth repeatable stroke. He has smooth handles and uses his quickness to break down a defense. He has potential to one day run the show for Buzz Williams but will likely be buried behind this deep backcourt this year. The final newcomer is Ashton Smith (#214) who comes in as a project at center, and while he is a pretty good athlete he has a ways to go in terms of his skillset inside. He will take a couple of seasons of development before he has a shot to make an impact for the Aggies.
Buzz Williams has a decent group to work with here, but ultimately it is not nearly at the level that the top half of the SEC will be playing with. The Aggies should be able to pick up a few wins against some of the bottom feeders in the conference but they will be nowhere close to the bubble discussion. The good news is they brought in talent with multiple seasons of eligibility left, so this season can be used as a building block. Watch for the development of Diarra and Obasecki who could represent an extremely talented backcourt down the road, and hopefully for Williams he will be able to retain these guys and have a chance to have a nice season in ‘22. For now, it will be more of the same in the bottom third of the conference, but strides should be made and the future could brighten if Williams can build around and hold on to some of this young talent.