Busting Brackets

Texas A&M Basketball: TJ Starks is the key to an Aggie’s Final Four run


Texas A&M is just two wins away from making an improbable trip to the Final Four. If they do, it’s because of the least-known player in the starting lineup.

Texas A&M has been one of the most confusing teams to judge in all of college basketball. They were dominant in the non-conference with big wins over West Virginia and USC, having just one loss by the beginning of SEC play.

But a combination of suspensions, injuries, and some bad ball playing caused the Aggies to lose six of their first seven games in the conference. It was looking like arguably the most talented team in the league was going to miss out on the NCAA Tournament.

Head coach Billy Kennedy made a decision to insert freshman TJ Starks into the starting lineup and gave him the green light to be more aggressive on offense. The guard made an instant impact, including tying his season-high with 23 points in a massive win against Auburn. He then followed it up with 17 to beat Kentucky, which essentially cashed the Aggie’s ticket into the Big Dance.

Starks has become the combo guard Texas A&M desperately needed at the time, having scored in double figures in all but two games since being named the starter. Since January 27 versus Kansas, the freshman has averaged 16.5 ppg, right at the top for the team.

Another part of Stark’s game that’s been improving as a late has been his ability to distribute, averaging 5.3 apg in his last six. Before then, he only cracked the four-assist mark just three times.

Texas A&M has arguably the second-best frontcourt left in the tournament to Duke in Robert Williams and Tyler Davis, and have quality guards and wings on the perimeter. But what they hadn’t had all season is a guy to put the ball in his hands and make smart decisions. That’s where Starks comes in, filling that void that has made the Aggies a serious threat to advance to the Final Four.

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No matter what, Kennedy knows that he has his point guard of the future in Starks. But he’ll need the freshman now, as Texas A&M looks to fulfill the team’s potential and stay on the peak, after the numerous valleys throughout the season.