College Sports: Hotel points and a Costa Rica trip will give Texas A&M’s Buzz Williams extra time to evaluate the Aggies this summer



The challenges that come with navigating a new workplace includes many nights in hotels during the transition process.

But Texas A&M men’s basketball coach Buzz Williams doesn’t mind. In fact, he’s stayed at a local Marriott property for so long that he’s joked the people on the housekeeping crew are his best friends in College Station.

“That’s who I see every morning before I leave,” Williams said, who holds lifetime platinum elite status with the hotel chain.

Williams and the Aggies will have a chance to earn hotel points in August when they travel to Costa Rica for a preseason tour. The summer trip is part of Williams’ initial evaluation process as he gets a feel for what next year’s team is capable of accomplishing.

“I think that will be good for all of the players because we’ll all be together for the first time,” Williams said in May during SEC spring meetings.

Because of NCAA rules that allows a team to make a preseason trip once every four years, the Aggies will have 10 practices this summer, which Williams believes is very beneficial. Otherwise, the new A&M coach would be restricted to the normal eight weeks of workouts during the summer.

Williams, who signed a six-year deal worth $24.3 million in base salary, will get a chance to make first-hand evaluations of his squad that features a split mix of collegiate experience.

RELATED: 10 things to know about new A&M hoops coach Buzz Williams

The Aggies currently have five incoming signees, including three that followed Williams from Virginia Tech to College Station. The new players join five returning scholarship players, including forward Savion Flagg.

The junior from Alvin led the Aggies in scoring and rebounding last season and was a bright spot for a team that finished 14-18 in Billy Kennedy’s final year as A&M’s coach. Flagg went through the NBA draft process, but decided to return for his third year at A&M.

“I will talk with Coach Buzz about what I have heard and how he can help me take my game to the next level, and more importantly, help the team win and have a successful season,” Flagg said in a team statement announcing his return.

The trip to Central America could give Williams a chance to evaluate players coming off injuries.

Junior guard TJ Starks is working his way back to full strength after offseason shoulder surgery, while junior guard Jay Jay Chandler is farther away from returning from a similar surgery, according to Williams.

Between Flagg, Starks and senior post player Josh Nebo, the Aggies have a trio that flashed at various times last season. However, Williams wants to get a first-hand look at the current roster before making any evaluations.

“I don’t know want to prejudge guys based on what they’ve done up until this point,” Williams said. “I can only build a relationship with them from the time that I was hired.”

The A&M assistant-turned-coach said he likely won’t have a good feel on how good the Aggies will be next season until the end of October. By Halloween, Williams estimates the team will have 15 practices, including a scrimmage, under its collective belt.

Until then, he’ll keep working through the offseason as he tries to turn A&M’s men’s basketball program into a contender in the SEC. That process includes racking Marriott points, a reward he hopes to collect.

“Maybe someday, it’ll be good for my family,” Williams said. “Maybe we can go on an extended vacation.”

Twitter: @Ben_Baby

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