The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Kennedy’s ‘most equipped’ men’s hoops team readies for season opener Friday


Cody Franklin — THE BATTALION

Guard Alex Caruso goes for a layup in an exhibition match against Texas A&M Commerce.  The Aggies play the Northwestern State Demons in Reed Arena at 7 p.m. Friday.  

Two days removed from signing the second-ranked recruiting class in the country, Texas A&M’s head men’s basketball coach Billy Kennedy and his squad tip off their 2014-15 campaign Friday at Reed Arena with a showdown against Northwestern State.
“We have the Demons coming in here Friday and guys are gradually getting ready to play,” Kennedy said. “It’s here — basketball season is here. It’s a great time of the year.”
The Aggies will look to improve upon their 18-16 record from a year ago, which included an 8-10 mark in SEC play, a home record of 17-3 and a trip to the 2014 College Basketball Invitational.
Texas A&M will also seek to end a three-year NCAA tournament drought. Its last appearance, which came under former head coach Mark Turgeon, was in 2011.
However, Kennedy, now in his fourth year at the helm of the team, is no stranger to NCAA tournament runs. In his fourth year as head coach at Murray State, his post prior to A&M, he led a revamped Racers basketball program into the second round of the NCAA tournament, riding a school-record 31 regular season wins.
Kennedy will lean heavily on the experience of four returning starters as he attempts to replicate similar success in his fourth season at A&M. Junior Alex Caruso, senior Jordan Green, junior Antwan Space and senior Kourtney Roberson all return and have a combined 179 career starts.
Caruso, a College Station product, enters his third season at guard for Texas A&M. The 6-foot-5, 184-pound junior led the SEC a year ago with 170 assists, averaging five per game, while tying for first in the conference with 69 steals. Caruso is one of 15 and 18 Aggies all time to have registered at least 250 career assists and 100 steals, respectively.
At 6-foot-9, 247 pounds, fifth-year senior Kourtney Roberson has led A&M in field goal percentage in his freshman, sophomore and junior seasons. He is also among 24 Aggies to have ever logged 500 rebounds in a career. His 620 career boards place him No. 15 all-time in A&M record books.
Jordan Green and Antwan Space contributed 6.9 and 6.4 points per game on 25.4 and 23.3 minutes per game, respectively, last season.
Despite having four returning starters, eight of A&M’s 14 other roster positions will be filled by newcomers, six of whom are freshmen. Though attention may be focused on the 2015 signing class, Texas A&M will need several of its 2014 newcomers to play a major role this year.
Alex Robinson, a 6-foot-1, 174-pound freshman from Arlington, Texas was rated as a four-star signee at point guard by several recruiting outlets, and was also considered by ESPN as a top-10 prospect from Texas. Robinson will look to provide relief for Caruso at the point guard position this year.
Tony Trocha-Morelos, a 6-foot-10 center from Cartagena, Colombia, and Avery Johnson Jr, the son of former NBA player and coach Avery Johnson, are among other freshmen who could see minutes early on.
Jalen Jones, a highly touted transfer from Southern Methodist University, has been granted immediate eligibility to play and also has the potential to be a contributing member of the team this year at either the guard or forward position. The 6-foot-7, 223-pound junior posted nine double-doubles and averaged 14 points and 7.7 rebounds per game last season for the Mustangs.
Kennedy said his team is poised for a breakout year.
“Our goal every year, and I’ve said this from the day I got here, is to strive to get to championship level,” Kennedy said. “And to get to championship level you have to play in the NCAA tournament. So that’s a goal every year. We have the best team that I’ve had since I’ve been here and we’re most equipped, at this time, to get to the NCAA tournament.”
Tipoff against Northwestern State is at 7 p.m. at Reed Arena.

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