FREE Aggie Websider Friday Tidbits
Let's change it up here on the nation's 232nd birthday and start with some basketball recruiting news. While the staff may still opt to take either lead guard Nick Russell or forward Ray Turner in the Class of 2009 as we've discussed in recent weeks, the focus is definitely turning to the class of 2010. If you've been with us since last year, you've heard me talk a lot about the talented Bellaire duo of Jamel Outler (6-foot-3 combo guard) and 6-foot-8 post prospect Tobi Oyedeji.
It just so happens that both players made a spur-of-the-moment trip to Texas A&M this past Monday. Well, Outler attended the Texas A&M Elite camp back in mid-June and in an interview with Aggie Websider after the camp, Outler named Texas A&M a slight leader over Baylor, Texas, and a few other schools. Oyedeji did not make it to A&M's camp due to a scheduling conflict with his AAU team, Houston Hoops. They were at the Nike Jamboree that weekend.
Thus, Oyedeji had not been to the Texas A&M campus since last January, so it was a big deal getting him in town. The trip certainly paid off, as Oyedeji was VERY impressed with the new practice and training facility. He continues to get closer to the staff. Tobi commented that he has built a solid relationship with the A&M staff and he feels more and more comfortable with them as time goes on.
Oyedeji did attend the Baylor, Texas, and New Mexico camps this summer, and the Bears and Longhorns are on his short list along with the Aggies. Baylor and A&M have offered, but Texas has not and they may not since they have already secured the commitment from the consensus No. 1 national recruit in 2010, 6-foot-8 forward Tristan Thompson from New Jersey. Bottom line is that the Aggies have positioned itself to be a serious player for both Bellaire prospects.
To give you an idea of how good Oyedeji is, Scout.com just released its first Top 50 2010 recruits nationally, and the Bellaire forward came in at No. 39 which would put him as the third-highest rated basketball prospect in recent years at Texas A&M behind only Antoine Wright and Deandre Jordan…assuming he signs in November 2009. Outler didn't make the Top 50 national list, but I think that just might change later this summer when the national analysts get a look at his new and improved game that features much better ballhandling and finishing plays near the basket. Outler faced off against some of the best prospects in the nation at the A&M Elite Camp, and he was the second most impressive prospect at the camp with Ray Turner coming in at No. 1.
The Class of 2010 news doesn't stop there. Another big-timer who shined at the A&M Elite Camp was Dripping Springs (Austin) shooting forward Daniel Alexander. He's still pretty skinny (6-foot-8, 190 lbs) and not considered a big banger inside yet, but he's got great outside skills. He can draw his defender well past the three-point line and he's got incredible quickness for a big man and he can easily beat a fellow forward off the dribble. He held his own against equally talented and older post players at the Elite Camp.
I spoke to Daniel's father for 20-30 minutes this past week and there are some very interesting dynamics at work here in his son's recruitment. First of all, Alexander has been offered at every camp he has attended (BU, A&M, Marquette) with the exception of the Texas camp. As mentioned in the discussion of Oyedeji, Texas already has the number one player in nation for 2010 that is also 6-foot-8, so they will take their time offering any additional big men for 2010. But while Oyedeji is more of a classic inside post player, Alexander is a prospect that can play outside and could even play some at No. 3. His father told me that Daniel has NBA 3-point range, so a lot here could depend on where and how schools recruit Alexander on the court.
The fact that Coach Turgeon really loves these kinds of versatile big men tells me that the message from A&M will hit the mark. Alexander definitely fits the mold of what the staff wants to do on the court.
Now here's the interesting part. Daniel's father is a Texas graduate and he has football season tickets. That doesn't sound good on the surface for Aggie fans, but he's an architect that has lived at various places across the country and seems open to other schools. In fact, Mr. Alexander had many complimentary things to say about Texas A&M, and joked that he never understood why others always hated Aggies because he finds the university and the people charming. How does he know this? Because he designed the new Jack E. Brown Chemical Engineering Building on-campus. He also designed the Civil Engineering Building before that. So he has somewhat of a connection to the university.
More importantly, the Texas A&M staff was the first to really show interest in Daniel last year when he was a relatively unknown freshman playing on a pretty bad AAU team. Well, Alexander blossomed this summer, and he hit the national radar with his performance at the Pangos All-American Camp, and his stock has soared from there. He's currently a three-star prospect by Scout, but in the next update I expect he'll move up to four stars and will be a Top 100 national prospect.
From talking to his father, this one appears for the moment to be a battle between Texas A&M and Texas, with some interest in Marquette and possibly Baylor. It's early so other schools will appear on his list. With Bryan Davis and Junior Elonu scheduled to graduate in 2010, the Aggies should have two spots open for some big men. Oyedeji and Alexander are certainly high on that list, along with 6-foot-8 Duncanville big man Julian Washburn. If you look at A&M's roster, there are four juniors that are scheduled to leave in 2010, so A&M is poised to have a large 2010 class, and it's already setting up to be a great class.
It will be a big week for Texas A&M's football recruiting, with a five-star quarterback set to announce his decision between NU and A&M, the Marshall and Allen duos expected in town at the end of the next week expecting to commit, and a wavering DL commit that is supposed to have a heart-to-heart phone conversation with head coach Mike Sherman.
Let's start with Chris Henderson, the on-again, off-again DL commit from Dallas Carter. First of all, I'm going to defend this kid a little so please indulge me. Some of these 17 year-olds are mentored and coached by family and friends to deal with a very confusing and stressful process of grown men suddenly showing great interest in them and making in essence professional sales pitches each and every time the kid visits or calls on the phone. If a kid doesn't have the proper mentoring to know when NOT to say something to a recruit or service, then you'll get the kind of situation we have with Chris. He's appears to be a good kid. He's very talkative, has a great attitude, and seems to be a happy-go-lucky guy that happens to say whatever is on his mind. I interviewed him right after he talked to Coach Wyatt, and he was very high on the Aggies. After the OU offer came the next day, he was very high on the Sooners. If LSU were to offer (not saying they are) tomorrow, I'm sure he'd sound half Cajun if I called him.
Some of y'all take this stuff personally when a kid flip-flops like this, but go back to when you were 17 and think how many times your mind changed on something at the drop of a hat. Sometimes, I think y'all forget these are just 17 year-old teenagers, and not college or professional athletes.
But for the A&M staff, there's a lot more at stake and they must analyze the situation and decide whether they plan to play hardball and draw the line in the sand with Chris and demand him to end the recruiting process, or whether they are willing to ride it out and still recruit him while he looks around. That is the million dollar question, because if they push him hard on the phone next week and he stands his ground on considering these other schools, that likely will be the last straw for both parties and they will go their separate ways permanently. It's a gamble, but seeing that Henderson has now flip-flopped several times and with numbers in this class shirt, I think it's something the staff will most likely have to do.
It definitely will be interesting to see how it plays out late next week (July 10 is the day Chris said he planned to call Coach Sherman). I think the story of Chris Henderson will end one way or another, and as of Wednesday night his plan was to decommit…but in 6-7 days who knows how he'll feel.
Is it the Huskers or the Aggies for Green?
That's the million dollar question, and as I've been saying for several weeks now, somebody is going to be disappointed because the Nebraska folks feel he's 100% in the bag, and the A&M people feel all the factors favor staying close to home. But as I said, after Cody Green's visit to Nebraska there were persistent rumors that something happened when he returned home and talked to the A&M coaches. This was right after the Aggies received those seven commitments in a week's time and the numbers were getting short. Apparently, the staff asked for his commitment and pushed the issue a little feeling they could get him secured. It didn't work, and ever since sources outside of A&M felt that Nebraska was a serious player to the point that NU was the odds-on choice. In fact, our Dayton sources said they thought he was leaning to Nebraska but he was still conflicted with his choice.
The big issue in favor of Texas A&M is location and his close relationship with his mom and sister. I've talked to his mom several times and they are close, and I got the feeling that while she wants Cody to do what's best for him, that having him close to home would be a big plus for her. Also, he's a big fisherman and he wets a line EVERY chance he gets, so you have to wonder how that fits in with those long, cold winter days in Lincoln.
So on paper, it looks like Texas A&M would have the advantage, but this isn't being played out on paper. It's being played out by an emotional and impressionable 17 year-old who is being pushed and pulled in so many directions. Ultimately, I don't don't know what he'll do, but if you had asked his coaches and people around him where he said he wanted to go last week, it was Nebraska. I do agree with many of the opinions on the Internet that the longer this plays out, the better it is for the Aggies.
The Marshall-Allen Duos
Well, one of the four in this group decided to move up his unofficial visit up a week (Websider first to break this news on the Internet)) and Allen cornerback Steven Terrell subsequently committed to the coaches on Tuesday. The numbers were thin, and he knew he had to make a move quickly, and he said as much in our interview.
Now, that leaves the other three…Marshall's Dameon Smith and Darius Jones and Allen's Uzoma Nwachukwu. People keep telling me that A&M doesn't have the room to take all three and that somebody in this group will be on the outside looking in. Frankly, I don't see it. You don't turn away somebody like Jones and Nwachukwu with sub-4.4 speed and great football skills, especially when speed is the biggest need on this team. They likely will find a way to take all three, and deal with the numbers crunch over the next full year. Remember, we're talking about the Class of 2009, so there will be the usual attrition over this summer, next fall, next spring, and then again the next summer. There will be casualties through a combination of transfers buried in the depth chart, medical hardships, and unfortunately those that don't take care of academics. They should take the prospects and let natural attrition take its course as it always does.
So the issue is if the staff will take all three, will all three want to commit to Texas A&M when they come down on July 13. I think the answer is probably yes. If you've read our Tidbits for the past couple of months, you'll know that Dameon Smith is a very heavy A&M lean and has planned to commit on July 13 for a while. Then there's the many twists and turns with Darius Jones who has flirted with both OU and particularly LSU in recent months, but from what we hear from our sources in Marshall, that's just about over with. Jones has left the door open and hasn't completely ruled out his other options (although we believe LSU and Jones moved on when he did not agree to commit and end the recruiting process while at LSU last month). He told me early last week by phone that he was leaning to Texas A&M, and he has since told friends and family that he will "probably commit to A&M" on the July 13 visit if all goes as planned. He will be bringing family with him, so the situation is set-up for a commitment and that's why I'm cautiously optimistic he'll be an Aggie after next weekend.
Then there is Uzoma Nwachukwu. It certainly helps that his teammate and friend pulled the trigger, and Terrell will be with him next weekend as well selling him on the Aggies. However, it does appear that he needs to be sold, as he has said in updates on the Scout.com network that Texas A&M leads OU and Notre Dame. The fact that he didn't make it to South Bend or Norman before his A&M visit is big for the Aggies. That's another reason why I'm again cautiously optimistic that he'll pull the trigger next weekend or shortly after returning from College Station.
So it looks good on that front. The wide receiver and defensive back position for this 2009 class looks to be extraordinary. Where the Aggies still need work is at linebacker and defensive line, and they need to shore up Ivory Wade on the offensive line. We'll focus more on these need areas in next week's Tidbits. But overall, I think the 2009 class is rounding into shape and with a successful weekend on July 13, the speed components of this class will be very impressive.
Have a great fourth of July, and for those reading these Tidbits for free during Scout.com's free preview week, if you have any questions about our service feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks.
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