Five-star center interested in Aggies

With the graduation of Joseph Jones and the possible early departure of DeAndre Jordan for the NBA, A&M head coach Mark Turgeon is looking for a big man. Five star center Daniel Orton from Oklahoma City may be that guy. David Sandhop visits with the blue chipper about his recruiting process and where the Aggies currently stand.

Texas A&M thrived all season on the strength of its physical post play. However, with the graduation of four year starter Joe Jones and the possible defection of freshman Deandre Jordan to the NBA, the Aggies will be looking to restock the big man pipeline in the next two recruiting classes. One of the top big men in the country looking at Texas A&M is Class of 2009 five-star post Daniel Orton from Oklahoma City.

The 6-foot-10.5, 270-pound prospect averaged 18 points, 13 rebounds, and nine blocks a game his junior season despite battling a knee injury he suffered early in the year. He's considered a dual threat big man who will work hard in the paint and can score with his back to the basket, and then step out and knock down the three-pointer when the opportunity arises.

"My strength is my overall game. I can see the floor and I'm good with my outlet (pass)," Orton said. "I'm comfortable taking the ball to the basket, and I can step out and hit the three." Orton admits that he wants to improve in several areas before taking his game to the collegiate level.

"I want to work on my ball handling and be a post player that can handle the ball anywhere on the court," Orton said. "I also want to work on my post-up moves with my back to the basket."

Orton's skills have already made him one of the most coveted big men in the country and virtually every major program in the nation has made a pitch to Scout.com's No. 3 nationally-rated center prospects. With so many schools showing interest, the Oklahoma native is having a hard time narrowing down his list.

"I'm still looking at a lot of schools, too many to mention really," Orton said. "I'd like to have my list narrowed down to 5-10 by the summer so I can start focusing on a few programs and schedule my official visits."

Florida and Ohio State have been high on Orton's list, along with USC and UCLA where he visited unofficially several weeks ago. The big man is also focused on a quartet of Big 12 schools, and given the recent success of the conference and the proximity to his home, those four schools are very much under serious consideration.

"Location won't limit where I go. I want to go to the best situation for me," Orton said. "But I do have some Big 12 schools that I'm considering and if I go there, the distance will be a plus."

The lucky four include Kansas, OU, Texas, and Texas A&M. The Aggies' recent success has caught the eye of the Oklahoma blue chip, and he likes what head coach Mark Turgeon has done in College Station so far.

"Texas A&M is definitely one of the schools I'm considering," Orton said. "Coach Turgeon and Coach Williamson have come by the school and I like what they have to say. A&M is a program on the rise and it's in the Big 12. I watched a little bit of the UCLA-Texas A&M game the other night, and I saw them play Texas and a couple of other games. I don't have anything set up now, but I'd like to go down there and check it out."

But Orton made it clear he's wide open and he's still a long way from making a final choice. With 10-15 schools still under consideration, college coaches should expect to be in it for the long haul if they expect to ink the talented center. In fact, his recruitment may extend past the early signing period in November.

"I hope to start taking some official visits in the fall," Orton said. "But I'll probably wait to sign until the spring signing period next year." Given his talents and athletic ability, there's no question that college coaches will accept the long wait and keep recruiting him until the end. He's simply that good.




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