Priorities in line

Billy Kennedy has been through more than most coaches on and especially off the court, so a move to a new conference is looked at as more of a fresh start than daunting challenge.

Texas A&M and Missouri now don the SEC logo on their uniforms, and their inaugural SEC media days were flooded with adjustment questions. While Billy Kennedy of TAMU is worried about the athleticism in the league compared to the "body league" that was and is still the Big 12, his off-the-court situation has taught him that the transition isn't as big a deal once the whistle blows.

"We got to work, we got to get it done," he simply stated.

But before that can happen, Kennedy has to continue to progress from being diagnosed with Parkinson's disease nearly a year ago to the day. He says he is fine, as long as he exercises, but the last 12 months have taught him plenty about himself and the game.

"I was trying to survive the first two weeks last year, and I'm much further along obviously, but you get your priorities checked real quickly when your health is a concern," he admitted. "I've learned a lot about myself and [I'm] really excited about the opportunity to be at Texas A&M and represent a great school and a great league.

"It's going to be a lot more fun, I promise you."

Fun always begins in recruiting, where the Aggies were able to land four freshmen. Two in particular, J'Mychal Reese and Alex Caruso, will be looked at to help out sooner than later.

"Really pleased with both of those guys," he said. "You know, they've had up moments and down moments, but their work ethic, their ability to grasp what we're doing, has been a lot faster than I thought. Both of them are going to play significant minutes. Physically, they've got to get stronger; but that's most freshmen at this level.

"We're really going to see a lot of playing time at this point, and [I] look forward to them having a great career."

Kennedy, who was laid back and relaxed throughout Thursday's session with the media, expects the freshmen to help out but they cannot carry the team. That responsibility will be with twin brothers Ray Turner and Elston Turner.

Their play may dictate the entire season for A&M in their coach's eyes.

"For us to be good, they have to have great years- not just average years, they've got to have great years," admitted the coach. "[I've] really been impressed with Ray Turner – he's gotten into much better shape; his conditioning is better. Before yesterday's scrimmage, he's been scoring 10 feet and in. Yesterday, he shot a couple of jump shots we don't want him to shoot. He thinks his name is Fadeaway Ray; I'm trying to get him to buy into a Powerplay Ray. He's done a great job of getting himself into better shape. Nelson Turner has got his body fat down, like five percent. So both of those guys are going to play a lot of minutes. They need to have great years for us.

Whether or not the team can compete in the athletic SEC will be determined, the resilience and perspective of their coach already has been.

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