In breaking news from the Texas A&M women’s basketball program the morning of Apr. 18, a press release revealed that “Texas A&M freshman guard Peyton Little has decided to transfer from Texas A&M at the conclusion of the academic year.” The announcement comes as a surprise, but it is also in time to give Texas A&M an opportunity to add another scholarship player for the coming year.
As a freshman Little made an impact, if not impression, on the court during the Aggies’ first year in the Southeastern Conference. There were times last season when the freshman received wide praise and great attention. Other games were not as memorable, typical of most freshman players.
Aggie statistics show that the 5-foot-11 guard played in all 35 games this season averaging 15 minutes per game. Little averaged 4.5 points and 1.2 rebounds per game in her freshman season. Her best game was when the Aggies beat Mizzou at home in January. The dynamic duo of Adrienne Pratcher and Little “led a devastating three-point barrage by Texas A&M, leading the (then) 16th-ranked Aggies to a 77-58 win over Missouri before 5,785 fans at Reed Arena.” That day, 35 points came from 11-17 3-point shots, between Pratcher and Little that day. Aggie fans still discuss that game today.
Little, from Abilene, Texas, was one of “six top-rated high school prospects to join the nationally ranked Aggies,” as announced by Head Coach Gary Blair, in November, 2011. Blair also said “Kelly Bond, our associate head coach and recruiting coordinator, along with associate head coach Vic Schaefer and assistant coach Johnnie Harris have worked hard for four years putting this class together and it will be our highest recruiting class ever.” Plus, the six were all well known to each other before.
The change in schools may likely be a strategic move for Little’s possible career prospects beyond college to find more playing time somewhere else. Don’t look for team discord as a reason for Little’s leaving. At the time they were recruited. Blair said, “all six of these young ladies have been friends, summer AAU teammates or competed against each other. Four of the six won a national championship with the DFW Elite club team (summer 2011). They all have attended summer camps at A&M where friendships started, families bonded and they saw how they would fit into A&M academically, socially and with the Aggie way of basketball.”
This sterling freshman recruiting class was considered by some to be #2 nationally in prestige at the time. The other superb freshmen signed included Courtney J. Walker, Courtney Williams, Jordan Jones, Chelsea Jennings, and Curtyce Knox. These names, three of whom saw massive playing time in their freshman year, are a good reason for a high-caliber player to transfer from Texas A&M to a venue where they may well see even more playing time.
At the time she was recruited, Little was ranked No. 29 in the ESPNU HoopGurlz100. Also in that grouping, Courtney Williams was No. 9, Jordan Jones was No. 14, Courtney J. Walker was No. 31, Chelsea Jennings was No. 45, and Curtyce Knox was No. 72.
In May, 2011, Little told TexAgs’ writer Logan Lee about how she decided on Texas A&M, particularly after she had already committed, then decommitted to Texas: “I committed at such a young age and never got the chance to visit other schools and see other programs, so after a lot of thinking and talking I felt that it was best that I de-commit and take some time to go look at these other schools and other programs to see what they have to offer.” Among the other schools she was looking at back at the time, she shared with Lee: “Oklahoma, Baylor, Texas Tech, Texas, Stanford, Maryland and UConn” were schools she talked to and stayed in contact with.
Also, in May, 2011, Little’s Cy-Fair Shock club team director Al Coleman said at the time of his (then) player, “Peyton has decided that A&M is a perfect fit for her from both a basketball and academic standpoint. She really fell in love with the environment that is College Station, the coaching staff and the players.”
It’s complete speculation but one wonders whether Little could be headed to Mississippi State, given what she told Logan Lee at that time: “I love Coach Schaefer and all the coaches. Being able to learn from Coach Schaefer and him dealing with me through the recruiting process was and is going to be fun.” Keep in mind that Texas A&M had won the national championship the previous year and the Aggies were still in the Big 12.
Wanting basketball to be fun, and possessing a tremendous amount of talent she likely wants to showcase, and jettisoning an environment where you are just one more great player on a huge roster of great players could be reasons sufficient for Little, or maybe many players with faith in themselves, to make a change, if they expect more of themselves than they currently realize.
Peyton’s father, Richard, played basketball at Texas Tech, and may well be helping to influence a decision for his daughter to gain maximum playing time. Wherever Peyton Little goes, she takes with her a year of outstanding experience at Texas A&M, the opportunity of playing with an professional and versatile group of young women—her peers—and those ahead of her from whom she undoubtedly learned a great deal, and the Aggie family who will always wish her well.
In looking for a silver lining: one nice thing about Petyon’s decision: it did not come via Twitter. Instead the news came from the athletic department as a traditional press release. In fact, Peyton’s account has been silent since yesterday. That’s probably where to look for an announcement for her future plans.
And for next season, Texas A&M’s women’s basketball program opens the season as the reigning SEC champions, with five experienced sophomores who will lead Texas A&M up and down the courts with renewed vigor, skill, enhanced training, and a tremendous amount of fun as they continue to “play smart, play together” and win.