Texas A&M basketball: T.J. Starks must take over leadership role after Gilder news

(Photo by Derek Cain/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
(Photo by Derek Cain/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /

Texas A&M basketball got just about the worst news it could have gotten today, but it opens the door for T.J. Starks to come into his own.

You can probably stick a fork in what was already a transition season for Texas A&M basketball anyway. Whatever sliver of hope the Aggies had of making the NCAA Tournament has now been washed away with the news that senior guard Admon Gilder will miss the entire 2018-19 season.

The ambiguity of the situation is somewhat concerning. There has been nothing specific mentioned about what the actual injury is.

He had originally been nursing a hamstring injury and was considered day-to-day before the team doctors apparently found something more serious. He was considered out indefinitely, and now it’s expected he will miss the entire season.

This is a tough pill to swallow. Though, realistically, the Aggies were not going to compete for much of anything this season. There was hope Billy Kennedy would have a fun team that’s exciting to watch, but losses to UC Irvine, Gonzaga, Minnesota and Washington all but put that notion to bed.

That doesn’t mean it’s easier to take losing arguably the team’s best and most important player. Gilder was going to be key to the Aggies’ ability to play face paced. He can shoot it better than anyone on the team, can handle the ball and plays good to great perimeter defense. Plus, he was the team’s senior leader.

Gilder going down sucks, mostly because of how well-liked he is and the fact he’s dealt with injuries for most of his career, but T.J. Starks will have to step into a leadership role now that Gilder’s fate for this season is sealed.

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Starks has struggled out of the gate and has been a big problem for the Aggies in close games. He gets caught standing around with the ball, jacking up ill-advised jump shots or turning the ball over. It killed the Aggies down the stretch of both the Minnesota and Washington games.

He’s been given the green light and maybe that’s not a great idea. He’s shooting twice as many threes this year but hitting them at just 21 percent, down from his 32 percent from last season. He’s shooting a paltry 33 percent from the field overall so far. He may be the Aggies best player, but something has to change.

Starks needs to focus on what he does best: driving the lane and facilitating the offense. He is amazing when he’s aggressive and has the ability to find the open guy when he makes the defense crash on him. If he does this, and assumes the leadership role vacated by Gilder, it just might turn the season around.

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Even if the ceiling for this team is participating in the NIT, exceeding expectations will have Texas A&M basketball feeling good for next season. Things could change for the better with the Top 20 2019 recruiting class coming in.

Jeff Shull is the Site Expert for the Gig Em Gazette on FanSided. Follow him on Twitter, and be sure to follow the Gig Em Gazette on Facebook and Twitter.