In the era of basketball recruiting when the courtship between recruiting prospect and coaching staff can span several years, yesterday's announcement that South Carolina wing player Khris Middleton verbally committed to Texas A&M came as quite a surprise to most fans and pundits. After all, Middleton and the Texas A&M staff had just recently met during an unofficial visit to College Station a couple of weeks ago.
"We were visiting family in Louisiana and Texas A&M had seen Khris this spring and were interested so we drove over there on a Sunday," James Middleton (Khris' father) said. "We were impressed that the entire coaching staff and some current players came out on a Sunday to talk to us and show us around."
The senior Middleton already knew about Texas A&M's recent performance on the basketball court in researching programs within the Big 12. However, it wasn't the on-court resume' of Texas A&M that appealed to Mr. Middleton after the visit.
"We're very serious about academics, and I was so impressed with the academic infrastructure that Coach Turgeon has put in place there at Texas A&M," Middleton said. "He has the checks and balances in place to make sure things get done. I want my son leaving college with a good degree."
While Khris and his family left College Station impressed with the program, there wasn't an indication that the 6-foot-7, 205-pound wing was ready to make his decision until earlier this week.
"I knew he liked Texas A&M, but it wasn't until he came down Tuesday night and said he was thinking about committing that we knew something was up," Middleton said. "We waited until after his finals on Wednesday, and then we talked about it as a family and that's where he wanted to go. He wants to be an Aggie."
The timing of his recruitment hit warp speed this spring when Middleton exploded onto the scene during the AAU spring season. Locals certainly knew about his deadly outside perimeter shot, but he displayed a more-rounded, versatile game this spring and that attracted the likes of Michigan, Virginia Tech, South Carolina, Nebraska, OU, Temple, and of course the Aggies.
"He's worked so hard in the gym and his work ethic is incredible. He loves basketball," Middleton said. "He's improved so much with his ball handling and all aspects of his game. He's more than a shooter now."
But make no mistake, the long, lanky wing prospect is best known for his quick, accurate stroke from the outside. He has the type of shot that makes defenses adjust to him.
"He has great size, and his value comes from his ability to shoot the ball behind the line," Scout.com national basketball analyst Dave Telep said today. "He can stretch a defense and put pressure on opponents to account for him on the court."
Kerry Fair of SCPrepnation.com, a site on the Scout.com network that covers high school athletics in the state South Carolina, has followed Middleton's career that started as a young 6-foot-1 freshman and had several observations regarding Texas A&M's latest verbal commitment.
"Khris is known as a perimeter player, but he is becoming a well-rounded prospect. He's vastly improved his ability to drive and has been blowing people up this spring. He had a great performance at the Bob Gibbons tournament," Fair said. "He's starting to create space and he can hit the pull-up jumper in traffic. The key on Khris is that he's only 16, and once he physically matures and gains some explosion, who knows what he can do."
Middleton's father says that his son is still growing and that he could add another inch or two to his 6-foot-7 frame. After all, Khris' cousin is 6-foot-10 forward/center Josh Powell of the Los Angeles Clippers. However, that shouldn't change Khris' versatile skill set that has him playing most positions on the court for his high school team.
"Khris plays just about every position on his high school team," Middleton said. "He brings the ball up, he plays out on the wing, and he plays the No. 4 and posts-up some. His versatility is a big plus, and coaches have said that they like that about Khris."
His father indicated that his son's decision is final and he's 100% solid on his choice to attend Texas A&M. Khris plans to revisit Texas A&M next month during the team's Elite camp on June 14-15 where he'll get to spend more time with his future teammates as well as other highly rated prospects in attendance.
Middleton: Inside the decision
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