Aggie big man ready for new role

He played in all 34 games last season, but you haven't seen anything yet from junior big man Chinemelu Elonu—who will be one of the keys to the Aggies success after the departure of four-year starter Joseph Jones and freshman DeAndre Jordan.

Elonu averaged 2.7 points and 3.0 rebounds per game last season, along with 16 blocked shots, but he was even more impressive late in the season, averagine 4.0 points and 5.3 rebounds per game in the Big 12 Tournament—including seven rebounds against Kansas State in the quarterfinals of the tournament.

But Elonu says he's capable of even more with his new role in 2008-09.

""It's going to be hard to fill those holes (left behind by Jones and Jordan). Those guys are impact players," Elonu said. "But we have a good chemistry going with our team. People aren't expecting us to be real good, but we just have to work hard. I have come off the bench in the past but I've got to accept a new role as starter this year, hopefully. I expect to bring a lot of energy and try to rebound the ball a lot and be big on the defensive end and if they come to me and need me to score I can do that too."

Elonu has worked hard over the summer to improve the offensive aspect of his game, even though he says he's always had the ability to score, it just hasn't been part of his role in the past.

But that's just one of the things that he says might surprise people this season.

"(People will be surprised) by my post defense and seeing me score a lot more at the post.," said the 6-foot-10.5, 240 pounder. "People probably know me as a rebounder and a shot blocker, but I can prove that I can score a little bit too."

In fact, in addition to working on his sky hook and jump hook shot—his favorite weapon on offense—Turgeon and Elonu both told Aggie Websider this week that he has even worked on his shot from behind the three point line "in case the Aggies need it."

Elonu, who struggled to earn playing time under former head coach Billy Gillispie as a raw but athletic freshman says he has learned a lot from Turgeon in the last year.

"My skill level has improved a lot because he's more of a skills coach and I think about the game more on the court, I'm not as nervous as I was," Elonu said. "Now I'm in a more freelance offense so that opens it up for me to do more like setting ball screens for Sloan and back picks and down screens and all of that. We get to play more freely with Coach Turgeon and that helps guys like me and Derrick Roland and Dash (Harris)."

In addition to Turgeon, Elonu says he's learned a lot just by playing against teammate Bryan Davis this summer, who is also an extremely physical player in the paint.

"We go at it all the time in practice because neither of us are going to let down, me and him are both pretty aggressive," Elonu said. "We're both pretty good rebounders and shot blockers and he can score the ball a lot better than me so I know I've got a good teammate on my side in the paint."

It's a combination that won't be as deep as it was a year ago, but Elonu is still confident that the Aggies will be a solid team this season.

"We're going to be pretty good," he said. "There's no doubt in my mind that we can surprise some people this year. We've got some pretty good freshmen coming in, plus we've got BD, Sloan, Roland, BJ and all those returners are really good. The sky's the limit for us."

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