In just five years, the Texas A&M basketball program has made the journey from perennial Big 12 doormats to mainstays in the NCAA Tournament with four straight appearances. In addition, the Aggies are one of only four programs in the country to log at least one win in each of the past four NCAA Tournaments. As a result of this recent success, head coach Mark Turgeon is seeing the dividends of the program's success, attracting interest from elite recruiting prospects across the nation. This week, the Aggies welcomed five-star 2010 point guard Kyrie Irving to College Station on an unofficial visit. Surprisingly, this was the second visit to Texas for the St. Patrick's HS (NJ) star and current Top 10 national prospect.
"I came to the A&M camp two years ago as a freshman and I loved it," Irving said. "They players there were talking about the new basketball practice facility that was being built and it sounded very impressive. The coaches and players were great and it felt like home."
Several days after the camp, Irving picked up his very first collegiate offer from Coach Turgeon and assistant coach Scott Spinnelli, who roomed and played with Drederick Irving at Boston University in the 1980's. The two remained friends through the years; however, it's the blossoming Texas A&M program that has caught the eye of the elder Irving who made the trip with his son to College Station.
"Coach Turgeon is a wonderful man and such a knowledgeable basketball coach and person. I was also impressed with the Athletic Director Bill Byrne and everyone at the university and the athletic department," said Mr. Irving. "They were all so genuinely excited about the opportunities that they could present for Kyrie. I really liked the camaraderie I saw amongst the coaches and I couldn't tell you how impressed I was by the support on the academic side of things. A&M is one of the best-kept secrets out there."
The 6-foot-2, 175-pound point guard averaged over 17 points, five assists, and three steals as a junior at St. Patrick's who plays for the AAU New Jersey Roadrunners in the offseason. He's also been invited to the prestigious prospect camps including the Deron Williams camp, the Lebron James camp, and this week's NBA Prospect camp. With all of these events on his plate, Irving managed to spend a few days in College Station and came away very impressed.
"The visit really solidified A&M as a school I'm seriously considering," Irving said. "The new facilities were even better than I imagined. The weight room and the practice gyms are state-of-the-art and brand new. But I really liked the high tech locker room. Every player has his own computer at his locker. It looks like an NBA locker room."
While the facilities certainly impressed the national Top 10 talent, it's the coaching staff and his growing relationship with Mark Turgeon that has the Aggies listed among his leaders at the moment.
"He's just a great coach and knows how to get the most out of his players," Irving said. "He's also a great person and someone I can look at and trust. He's a good person and a good coach. He thinks I can come in and run their three point guard front and be an impact player for A&M."
Irving also spent a lot of time touring the university campus and looking at potential academic programs and majors that will fit his future professional aspirations after basketball. He was particularly impressed with the university's 12th Man Productions that utilizes many students in providing the video productions and media products that are utilized on game day and in marketing campaigns for the university.
"I enjoyed the campus and I liked the laid back atmosphere," Irving said. "What really impressed me was the 12th Man Productions that allows students to work on all the media and video products they use. That's something I'd like to study and that really interests me."
While Irving enjoyed his time at Texas A&M, he indicated that he has no leaders at this time and he's looking at virtually every major college program in the country including Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Connecticut, Texas, and Villanova to name a few. He has no timetable for a decision, but plans to take all five official visits before he narrows his list and signs a national letter of intent. However, he did list those factors most important in choosing a school.
"First, I'm looking for a place that's a home-away-from-home where I'm comfortable. Then I'll be looking at the coaching staff and my relationship with them," Irving said. "I'm also looking at academics and the majors each school offers as well as the overall basketball atmosphere."
Irving Discusses Trip to Texas A&M
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