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September 3, 2008
Former high school teammates Donald Sloan and Derrick Roland were billed as Texas A&M's backcourt of the future when they signed with the Aggies three years ago. They will get their chance to show why this season.
Texas A&M's Josh Carter is one of the Big 12's best 3-point shooters.
Roland will move into a starting role after emerging as a reliable contributor off the bench. The Aggies need Roland to look for his shot more and become a steady scoring threat.
The return of veteran swingman Josh Carter, who flirted briefly with the idea of leaving school early, gives the Aggies an experienced leader and one of the top outside shooters in the Big 12. Entering his fourth year as a starter, Carter has shot 42.5 percent (222 of 522) from 3-point range over the course of his career. The Aggies want Carter to diversify his offensive game by putting the ball on the floor and attacking the basket more. He'll also be needed to help rebound.
Freshman Dashan Harris likely will be one of the first players off the bench. A top-100 prospect, Harris is the Aggies' point guard of the future. The Aggies lack depth on the wings, which means Roland and Carter must be prepared to play heavy minutes.
The loss of four-year starter Joseph Jones and 7-footer DeAndre Jordan, who was taken in the second round of the NBA Draft, leaves the Aggies relatively thin on the inside.
Fortunately for the Aggies, Davis was one of the Big 12's most improved players last season. After seeing limited action in his first year, Davis proved to be a major piece of the team, ranking fourth in scoring (8.7 ppg) and third in rebounding (4.9 rpg). With more opportunities, he'll likely raise those numbers into the 12-14 points per game and 6-8 rebounds per game range.
Elonu, who averaged 9.3 minutes last season, is a project, but has good athleticism and size. The Aggies are hoping the fourth-year junior can develop into a great shot-blocker in the middle of their defense.
Freshman David Loubeau will provide immediate help. Ranked the No. 63 power forward in the 2008 class, Lobeau has a good skill set and a great motor. He could work his way into the starting lineup.
Turgeon didn't tinker much with the offense last season, keeping a motion attack based on balance and patience. That will remain the focus, but with Jordan and Jones gone, the Aggies will look to run more. Sloan's ability to penetrate and create is pivotal.
The Aggies will use man-to-man as much as possible. Last season, it was the backbone of a defense that gave up the third-fewest points (61.6 per game) in the Big 12.
SHOES TO FILL
Jones and Kirk. Losing Jordan early to the NBA isn't as detrimental as losing either Kirk or Jones. Both were far more reliable. Kirk was one of the top defenders in the Big 12, and Jones was the team's top inside scoring threat. Their leadership and experience were underrated.
MUST STEP UP
Elonu. The Aggies have brought Elonu along slowly, but there is no more time for patience. The guards, along with Davis, can carry the offense. But A&M needs Elonu for rebounding and defense.
Harris and Loubeau. Turgeon and his staff won big recruiting battles to land both of these four-star prospects.
Andrew Skwara is a national writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at email@example.com.