Used to winning ugly, the Aggies have a new coach, a new star and a new plan in motion
The Aggies have not been a pretty team to watch in recent years. That's mainly because of the physical way in which forwards Joseph Jones and Antanas Kavaliauskas and guard Dominique Kirk executed the defensive preachings of former coach Billy Gillispie. But even the heroics of the Aggies' leading scorer, departed All-America point guard Acie Law IV, were not particularly elegant; he made a lot of clutch shots, but they often resembled knuckleballs. The lone aesthetic anomaly in A&M's starting lineup last season was 6' 7" swingman Josh Carter. "Everything he does," says Jones, "is smooth."
With his high release point and feathery jumper, Carter emerged as a three-point-shooting phenomenon in '06-07, connecting at a 50.0% clip to share (with Bradley's Jeremy Crouch) the title of the nation's most accurate long-range marksman. He'll have to expand his contributions as a junior, though, if the Aggies are to hang with Kansas and Texas in the Big 12.
This summer Carter traveled the world to work on his game: In June he attended the Kobe Bryant Skills Academy in Los Angeles; in July he made the first cut -- and barely missed the second -- at the Pan American Games trials in Haverford, Pa.; and in August he toured Australia with Athletes in Action, leading the team in scoring. The most dramatic day of his off-season, however, came in April, when he awoke from a nap at his parents' house in Dallas to learn that Gillispie was leaving to take the coaching job at Kentucky.
Mark Turgeon was hired away from Wichita State to replace Gillispie. Fortunately Turgeon was already familiar with Carter. While with the Shockers the coach had annually mined Texas for prospects, and he had recruited Carter until Gillispie swooped in and signed him. Two years later Turgeon finally has his man. Carter thinks the Aggies' new motion offense "is a really good fit" for his skills, and Turgeon has pledged to help Carter develop into more than a perimeter shooter. He is already at work on improving Carter's driving skills, his midrange game and his defense. Says the coach, "He's becoming a more complete player now." And that's much more of a pleasure to watch. -- Luke Winn
Issue date: November 19, 2007