Buzz pulls off remarkable rebuild of 2019 recruiting class
New Aggie basketball coach Buzz Williams went on one of the more remarkable recruiting sprees we may ever see Saturday evening, racking up four commits and restocking Texas A&M’s 2019 recruiting class in the span of 90 minutes.
The biggest get may be the first to publicly commit -- SG Cashius McNeilly, from Toronto. Yeah, THAT Toronto. Originally classified as a 2020 prospect, McNeilly is now going to graduate early and has been added to the 2019 class. One of the best players in Canada, McNeilly has a solid outside game and can also get the hoop. He can play point guard as well, but A&M is probably not done looking in that department.
The next addition is one of the best JUCO players in America, Quenton Jackson from the College of Central Florida. He shot better than 52% from the field last season and brings plenty of athleticism to A&M’s front court. Even better, he picked A&M over Arkansas, LSU and Texas.
Dayton, Ohio SG Andre Gordon is following Buzz from Blacksburg to College Station. Like McNeilly and Jackson, Gordon is a really good athlete and can score both outside and at the rim.
The final addition is Yavuz Gultekin, who had also been committed to Virginia Tech before Buzz left. He’s a different type of player than the other three: at 6-foot-8 and less than 200 pounds, he’s more of a presence on the perimeter but can shoot the 3 very well.
Buzz said he’d like to sign about “half a team” at his opening press conference, so that probably means two more guys at least. One real possibility is 4-star Chris Harris, who had been committed to A&M under Billy Kennedy and requested a release from his LOI after Kennedy was fired and Williams was announced. Harris has the Aggies still in his top three and a decision coming soon.
If the Aggies can get Harris back (and a point guard, preferably), it will be a very successful -- and fast -- rebuilding of a recruiting class by Williams. As it is, A&M is a lot more athletic than they were a few days ago, which is something critically important. The fact that Williams was able to pull in four commits in one weekend bodes very well for the future.
Update on the draft stock of A&M prospects
I got a chance to talk to some of A&M’s draft-eligible players Friday night and got an update on who’s talking to them. Trayveon Williams has been talking with the Bears, Jets and Texans, among others -- and a lot of people think he’s going to Chicago. On the real plus side for him, it looks like people finally woke up and realized that hey, he’s really good. Most mock drafts now have him in the 3rd round, which is about where he deserves to be -- and where I think he’ll go.
Cullen Gillaspia has been around to see a ton of teams, including the Saints, Titans and Texans. There is a very real chance he gets drafted after running either in the high 4.4s or low 4.5s (depending on who had the stop watch) at Pro Day. Otaro Alaka has talked with the same three teams, among others.
I think this draft class could end up being a very productive one for A&M, even if it doesn’t have a first rounder in (and Erik McCoy may take care of that problem). They’ve got several guys who could go in the 2nd and 3rd rounds, including Williams and Jace Sternberger. Kingsley Keke has been out to Seattle and has also met with Houston, and he could be a mid-rounder. So could Daylon Mack. At the end of the day, I think you’re going to see some guys do very well for themselves that weren’t even in mock drafts at the start of the process (which shows you that they’re mostly garbage anyway).
Rapid fire thoughts after the spring game
I don’t think there’s much doubt about how much Jimbo Fisher likes Zach Calzada. There’s a long way to go before it’s all over, but if he had to pick a backup today, I think Calzada would be it, true freshman or not.
Fisher really likes how his tackles (Dan Moore and Carson Green) are playing. I wasn’t really thrilled with the guard play Friday night, so that may be where Kenyon Green starts off.
It was very interesting to see Luke Matthews at center and Barton Clement at guard after they have spent a year trying to get Clement ready to play center. I’d like to know what brought that on.
After a second look, Aaron Hansford did a lot Friday night and he did a lot right. Andre White was out there much more than I thought and he performed well. Those are both really big positives for the linebacker corps.
If anyone has three defensive tackles better than Justin Madubuike, Jayden Peevy and Bobby Brown anywhere in the nation, I’d like to know who they are.
At the start of the spring, we were wondering who this year’s Quartney Davis might be, the guy who comes out of nowhere to be a very good starter. Could Moses Reynolds or Devin Morris end up being that guy? If one of them is, how good does this team become?
I’m not worried about the defensive line. At all.
After Friday night, I’d give the ball to Deneric Prince before Jacob Kibodi. Personal preference, but I thought he did the better job. Both helped their causes in a big way, though.
Baylor Cupp is legit, and he’s going to cause so much trouble that people are going to forget about Glenn Beal. And unlike Trevor Wood, I think this guy will get the ball thrown his way and do some things with it.
Having so many receivers out is frustrating because A&M cannot expand the offense with Kellen Mond if they’re not out there.
I think Camron Buckley may be the unofficial backup at all three receiver slots before the season starts, which means he’ll probably get starter-ish snaps anyway. But none of the reserves besides him exactly set my hair on fire. Those jobs are wide open.
This group of defensive ends is not nearly as experienced as last year’s group, but is faster and more athletic.
I think Clifford Chattman will win the nickel job if he stays healthy.
When you have so many players injured, the spring game is usually trash. This game was not. It was actually pretty well-played, and that usually means good things for what’s to come.
These guys are good
It’s time to consider the Aggie baseball team a legitimate threat to win the SEC West, if not the entire conference. They’ve got the pitching, the defense is good, the bats are waking up and the schedule works in their favor.
This will by no means be a cakewalk. They still play Mississippi State and Arkansas, both arguably better teams than they are. They still have Ole Miss, Alabama and South Carolina, and they’re not exactly bad. But they’ve already won series against top 20 teams in Vandy and Auburn, as well as beat Texas and Baylor. They’ve already played some seriously good competition at are 27-10-1. They got a great performance by John Doxakis on Friday night against Auburn and took the committee approach to holding the Tigers to 6 hits and a run on Sunday. Asa Lacy actually lost a game Saturday, something that has been a complete aberration and may not happen again.
The biggest thing in their favor? Arkansas and Mississippi State have to come to College Station for their three-game series. A&M is 19-7-1 at home, and just 5-3 on the road. They do not play Georgia or Florida in the regular season, which does not hurt.
The Aggies know they can rely on their pitching staff to keep them in games, and that’s the biggest key to winning in baseball. But they’ve got to hit more to win, and at least a few guys have turned things around -- Braden Shewmake in particular (.329 avg./.871 OPS). They need that turnaround to continue. If it does, then a team that was unranked at the start of the year could end up at the top of the heap over squads expected to be in the top 10 (which is where A&M is now, ranked as high as 7th).