by Shelby Hodges
With recruiting season in full swing, it’s easy to forget about the players who have already made it to the college court. Summer workouts have already started on most campuses, and many players from Texas are working hard to get ready for the 2015-2016 season. Here are 12 players to watch out for when games start in the fall.
Isaiah Taylor – Junior – Texas
The junior out of Houston surprisingly stuck around for another year of college ball, and should excel with the new style of play at Texas. As a sophomore, Taylor missed a large part of the season because of a wrist injury, but still averaged 13 points and
five assists per game. His absence also proved that he was a strong leader for the Horns, because the team struggled without him. In the 2015-2016 season, Smart’s upbeat tempo on offense and defense will work well with Taylor’s quickness, and he should be taking on a bigger role for the team.
Austin Grandstaff – Freshman – Ohio State
This Rockwall product was the top scorer in the state during his senior season, averaging just over 29 points per game. He was a hot item during recruiting and received offers from Arizona, Georgetown and Marquette, just to name a few. The gifted shooter committed to Ohio State last May and will most likely be an immediate contributor for the Buckeyes. Since he got to campus in June he has put on weight in to stack up against other college guards, but as a 50 percent shooter it won’t be hard for Grandstaff to noticed as an elite shooter early on.
Phil Forte – Senior – Oklahoma State
Forte has had a consistent career so far for the Cowboys, and this season should be the same for the senior out of Flower Mound. Last year, he averaged 15 points in around 33 minutes of playing time, making him the second highest producer on the team. He shot around 45 percent from the field and had a standout game against North Texas where he dropped 32 points. Now as a senior, Forte has the chance to take on a leadership role for a program that struggled late in the season.
Elijah Thomas – Freshman – Texas A&M
This big man out of Lancaster is sure to be a star for the Aggies in his freshman season. As a senior, he averaged 12 rebounds and 17 points per game and helped Lancaster to a 5A State Championship. He will be joined by a stellar freshman class including D.J Hogg, Tyler Davis and Admon Gilder, all of whom also could have made this list. However, Thomas is going to be in a key position that A&M has struggled with the past few seasons. They need an immediate presence down low for the program and Thomas has proven that he could be that answer.
Justin Jackson – Sophomore – North Carolina
As a freshman, Jackson averaged 11 points per game and was voted to the ACC All-Freshman team for the Tar Heels. He was a consistent scorer and excelled from the three-point line, where he shot around 44 percent. Most impressive was his performance during important games, including during North Carolina’s run in the NCAA tournament. This Tomball native, who played in a home school league before entering college, is likely to continue his success and excel with more playing time as a sophomore.
Matt Jones – Junior – Duke
Jones has played well for Duke the past two years, but after the loss of Jahlil Okafor, Justise Winslow and Tyus Jones, he should get the opportunity to increase his role. He only averaged six points in 21 minutes of play last year, but both are sure to go up now that he is a junior. As a Blue Devil, he has struggled to get court time on an extremely talented team, but has shot well and played solid defense in the time given to him. He contributed consistently during the latter part of the season and during Duke’s national championship run, but didn’t log any points in their final win over Wisconsin. Look for the DeSoto guard to change that in the 2015-2016 season.
King McClure – Freshman – Baylor
As one of the top guards in the class of 2015, it is no surprise that McClure is someone to watch this upcoming season. During his senior year at Triple A Academy in Dallas, he averaged an astonishing 32 points and seven rebounds, while also graduating as the valedictorian of his class. He lead his team to a 26-5 records overall that year and shot 65% from the perimeter for the season. As a Bear, McClure should see court time early and his strong shooting abilities will make him a threat to any opponent.
Kendal Yancy – Sophomore – Texas
With the new playing style of coach Shaka Smart and the loss of scorers Myles Turner and Jonathan Holmes, Yancy could become a new leader for the Horns. As a freshman, the Richardson native averaged just over 20 minutes of playing time and seven points, but showed sparks of greatness throughout the season, especially in a game against Iowa State where he scored 29 points. This season, Texas’ young players will have an opening to step up in the backcourt, where the program desperately needs it, and hopefully Yancy can take over that role.
Matt McQuaid – Freshman – Michigan State
This star out of Duncanville was one of the hottest recruits in his class and is showing promise in summer workouts for the Spartans. McQuaid had offers from Creighton, Gonzaga, Texas, Wichita State and more, before choosing MSU. At 6’4 175, he is lanky for a college guard but according to recent comments from Tom Izzo, he is surprisingly athletic for his size. In summer practices, McQuaid has set himself apart from other incoming freshman, and Izzo also said that he expects him to get playing time early. As an elite shooter, McQuaid could definitely be a scoring machine for the program.
Eric McClellan – Junior – Gonzaga
McClellan was only able to play a portion of his first year at Gonzaga but proved late in the season he could perform off the bench. He split his freshman season between Tulsa and Vanderbilt, where he led the team in scoring, averaging 14 points per game. After being released from Vanderbilt because of rule violations, he was picked up by the Bulldogs. As a sophomore, he was only eligible for the second half of the season and averaged just eight minutes of playing time. The guard out of Austin now has the rare chance to rebuild his career in his final season of eligibility.
Winston Shepard – Senior – San Diego State
As a junior for the Aztecs, Shepard averaged 11 points and five rebounds per game, playing his best late in the season. The team was dominant in the Mountain West Conference but lost to the Duke powerhouse in the second round of the NCAA tournament. Now as a senior, Shepard is a seasoned veteran, who can help lead them to another tournament appearance. The Houston native, who played high school ball at Findlay Prep, averaged just over 40% shooting his last two seasons and will hopefully continue to be consistent for the program.
Taurean Waller-Prince – Senior – Baylor
Prince has been a strong big man for the Bears since his sophomore year averaging 14 points and six rebounds. This year he will be one of only two players who have been with the program for two seasons, making him a leader for the young squad. As a junior, he was playing his best basketball in the second half of conference play and hopefully he can extend that to the upcoming season.