There’s only one player in the history of Texas A&M basketball to have his jersey hang from the Reed Arena rafters: Acie Law. The Aggies legend helped revitalize a long-dormant program in the mid-2000s en route to a lengthy professional career that included several NBA stops.
Thursday, Law spoke with SEC Country about his current work (spoiler: it’s awesome) and the latest A&M basketball squad, which will play Michigan for an Elite 8 berth at 6:37 p.m. CT.
“It’s been an up-and-down season,” Law said. “Going into the tournament, you had your concerns: injuries, team discipline, things Coach (Billy) Kennedy’s had to deal with. I think he made a comment that this has been one of the toughest seasons of his career. He’s dealt with a lot of adversity. But you knew — looking at this roster, the way its constructed — this was one of the most talented teams in the country, and you knew the potential was there.”
Texas A&M finished the regular season 20-11 and then lost a heartbreaker to Alabama in its first SEC tournament game. Assigned a No. 6 seed in the NCAA tourney, Kennedy’s team proceeded to blow out No. 11 Providence and No. 3 North Carolina to earn its second Sweet 16 appearance in three seasons.
“You saw the way they played against North Carolina,” Law said. “They’re in a great spot. They’re primed to make a run all the way to the end.”
When he’s not watching his former school, the 33-year-old is working as an associate with the Texas Legends, a minor-league affiliate of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks.
A knee injury ended his playing career in 2014, so he moved back to Dallas to spend time with his family and serve as a volunteer assistant. But the league soon pulled him back in; former Aggies teammate Bryson Graham placed a fateful call to Law last year. Now the director of scouting for the New Orleans Pelicans, Graham told Law about the NBA’s Basketball Operations Associate Program, which, in the words of the league, “prepares former NBA, WNBA and G League players to pursue career opportunities in team management positions.”
Law agreed to give it a try, so he moved to New York last spring and was soon contributing to various aspects of league operations. When that portion of the program wrapped up this February, the league sent him to Frisco, Texas, to work on the team level with the Legends.
“I love the game to my core,” he said. “And to be on the side now where I get to have an opinion and making calls — talking to guys’ agents and seeing if it makes sense for them to play for our teams — it’s been a blessing.”
He spoke on several other topics during the interview. Here is a collection of highlights:
Acie Law on Texas A&M, Steph Curry and more
What is the key to the second week of the NCAA tournament? How does A&M bring early success into Week 2?
“ Just stay in the moment. It sounds cliché. Everybody says it. But don’t look ahead. Don’t feed into what I just said (earlier), that it looks good. They’re the ones who have to go play. Obviously, myself, yourself, guys who look at the brackets … things look favorable. But for the players, they’ve gotta get out there and play 40 minutes and put together a great performance.”
If they’re going to win four more games and claim a national title, what’s the key for them on the court?
“They need consistent guard play. I think TJ (Starks) has kind of surprised everybody, the way he’s matured and elevated his game as a freshman. You know the inside — Robert (Williams), Tyler (Davis) and Tonny (Trocha-Morelos) — their length and size and the way they rebound on the interior, they’re going to bring that every night, and they’re probably going to have an advantage in that area.
“You saw it against Providence: TJ made some big plays in the second half to go along with the dominance of Robert and Tyler on the inside … The frustrating thing is (the guards) turn the ball over a lot. If they take care of the basketball and get a shot at the basketball every possession — which is impossible, but if they limit their turnovers — they’ll be fine in the end. As long as they don’t beat themselves, they have a chance to beat anybody.”
Back to the NBA gig. What did you learn during your time in New York?
“You’re learning about the CBA. You’re learning about referee ops. I had the opportunity to work on the group that put the NBA schedule together. All the teams. That was a pretty eye-opening experience. So you get to do all those different things. Put together BWB (Basketball Without Borders) camps. So I got to learn all the facets of how the NBA works, and then you kinda zero in, working with a team.”
On the team-specific side, what have you picked up in Frisco?
“It’s given me an opportunity to learn the team level. So I get to learn how they go about constructing a roster, how they go about making money. This is a business. So I’m running that side of it, and man, it’s been great thus far. This team is in a position to make the postseason, so we’re trying to finish strong and see where this goes here and hopefully parlay it into something else. It’s been amazing being home with my family. It’s a good opportunity. Just hoping to build on it.”
What’s next for you when the season ends?
“That’s the million-dollar question [laughs]. You get the opportunity to do a ton of networking. Which I think is one of the biggest components of the program: the networking opportunities. I’m learning a ton. I’m not trying to devalue that. But to be able to put my face out there again and meet people, familiar faces I’ve known before, and let ‘em know what I’m trying to do, what I’m currently doing. We’ll see where it goes.”
During your playing days, you spent some time with the Warriors (parts of the 2009-10 and 2010-11 seasons). Did you get a sense there was something great there?
“I tell this story a lot about Steph (Curry) … Obviously, we didn’t see that team being this good. After I left, they made some great moves, getting Klay (Thompson) and acquiring Draymond (Green). They made some great decisions. But I will say this about Steph: He is probably one of the hardest-working guys that I’ve ever had the opportunity to play with. It’s weird, man. That kid worked on his shot like he didn’t believe he was a good shooter, if that makes sense. You would see him put countless hours in after practice, just shooting. Being frustrated when he would miss shots. And he dealt with a lot of adversity.
“He’s a great player. One of the greatest shooters, if not the greatest shooter to ever lace ‘em up. But he dealt with some adversity; his ankles were giving him a lot of trouble. His body needed time to mature. He was a kid. It was a process going in. But man, he worked on his game relentlessly, and his confidence was there. It was a matter of him getting an opportunity in the right situation. And it all worked out for him. It’s cool to see him elevate his game, coming from where he was. We saw him as a rookie. And to see him elevate himself to where he is now, second-or-third-best player in the NBA, it’s a pretty cool thing. And it’s a tribute to his work ethic and dedication to his craft.”
You’re the only guy to have your number in the rafters at Reed Arena. Does it mean more now than it did then?
“That was a very impactful time in my life. I’ve taken my children there. Me and my wife. Showed ‘em some of the things we’ve done. A&M has showed me a lot of appreciation. They’ve got awards, and they’ve got my jersey, like you mentioned, and pictures and all these memories there of not only what I did, but what my team was able to accomplish.
“To reminisce about what I did, but also see where the program is now, it’s something to be proud of. Because in a sense, our group contributed to that. Our goal when we went there, led by Coach G (Billy Gillispie), was to try and turn this into a basketball school. And we wanted to make this a place that was a destination for kids — primarily Texas kids — we wanted to be one of the top basketball programs in the state, and I feel like we contributed and helped get that ball rolling in the right direction. And I think this group now, led by Coach Kennedy, is doing the same thing. Just building on it. And hopefully we can get this to where we have more than just Sweet 16 appearances, but some Elite Eights and some Final Fours.”
Speaking of the Final Four: In two days, that could be a reality for this Texas A&M team.
“It just gave me chills when you said that, because it’s never happened. Everybody has dreams and aspirations of doing that, but they don’t understand how lucky you have to be. That’s why I go back to my advice to those guys: Stay in the moment. Take advantage of this opportunity. Don’t leave anything on the court. They have an opportunity to do something big, not only for themselves, but for all of us. This is a proud moment for me as well, to see them knocking on the door of the Final Four.”
Do you have a favorite Acie Law memory? Let us know in the comments section below:
The post Q&A: Acie Law says Texas A&M ‘primed to make a run all the way to the end’ appeared first on SEC Country.
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