Native Texan Ryan Wall is already etched into the Texas A&M University-Texarkana basketball record book.
Wall is the Eagles’ first men’s head basketball coach, and his team is less than a week from making its debut at Mid American Christian University in Oklahoma City.
“Our talent level is similar to what I had my first season at Our Lady of the Lake,” said Wall, who compiled a 109-42 record in five years at that Red River Conference university. “We’ll be pressing pretty much the entire game. It’ll be up-and-down, fast pace, but our success will depend on the players’ buy-in and how well we play together.
“Everybody is going to play a lot because of our style of play. Our conference is one of the toughest in the nation (NAIA). We’ll be one of the smallest teams in the league.”
Ouellette pleasant surprise for Wall
Wall’s first edition has a strong Texarkana flavor with Pleasant Grove graduates Connor Ouellette and Aaron Harmon. Liberty-Eylau’s Decorion Phillips and Texas High’s Kyle Wright also figure to see considerable playing time as freshmen.
The Eagles’ current 13-man roster features some transfers, including the 6-4 Ouellette. Dallas native Desmond Kennedy (6-3) and Marquis Waller (6-4) are the only seniors. There are four juniors, including 6-7 Seyi Abowie of Dallas. The others are 6-1 Kaland Johnson of Longview, Isiah Durham (5-9) and Anthony McGee (5-11) of Dallas.
Others expected to get lot of action are 6-6 freshman Chris Black of Dallas, 6-1 freshman Kyle Dow of San Antonio, and 6-0 sophomore Tyrig Mathews of Baton Rouge, La.
“We don’t have a complete roster yet, but we’ve got a good idea of what we’ve got,” said Wall. “We’re trying to add a couple of more players so we can compete at the highest level.”
Wall said Ouellette has been one of the team’s most pleasant surprises so far.
“Connor is one of the hardest working dudes on the team,” said Wall. “He’s flourished the first eight weeks. I think he’ll be pretty good throughout his career.
“Phillips is very athletic, and can guard anybody. He needs to work on his shot. Wright has an opportunity to lead the group and be the future point guard. Harmon is another hard worker, and he’s very bright. I love his work ethic.”
Eagles home for six early games
After opening on the road in Oklahoma City, the Eagles return to Texarkana for six home games at the Patterson Student Center over a two-week period. Their home opener is against Champion Christian, located in Hot Springs, Ark. This traditional powerhouse has won three national titles in the National Christian College Athletic Association.
The Eagles then host Dillard University (New Orleans), Lyon College (Batesville, Ark.), Northern New Mexico College, Philander Smith College (Little Rock) and Blue Mountain College (Mississippi). Later in the season Texas A&M-Texarkana will play Texas A&M University-Kingsville and Angelo State, both NCAA Division II schools.
“I like to play as tough a schedule as possible; we’ll always play a tough schedule,” said Wall.