Tonny trocha-morelos to enjoy family reunion at senior day mens basketball theeagle.com 6 gases

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Trocha-Morelos, 23, believes he was 12 the last time his mother attended one of his games. He says she once started walking down the aisle to get to a referee after one called a foul on her then 6-foot-1 son. Even now Betty’s so nervous about her son that she only watches games on replay after getting a phone call from Tonny that he made it through unscathed.

Tonny’s brother and his family also traveled from Montana, and the entire Morelos family will escort Tonny onto the court for the pregame ceremony before the Aggies (19-11, 8-9) face the Alabama Crimson Tide (17-13, 8-9) at 1 p.m. Saturday in a Southeastern Conference regular-season finale at Reed Arena.

Trocha-Morelos says he can hardly believe his Senior Day is here despite having watched five others, including last year’s when he escorted teammate and fellow Colombian Juan Aparicio onto the court the day the Aggies clinched their share of the Southeastern Conference regular-season title.

One reason Trocha-Morelos doesn’t want it all to end is he had so much difficulty getting it started. Originally set to begin his A&M career during the second semester of the 2012-13 season, he did not become eligible until the start of the 2014-15 season.

"I can remember thinking he was going to be eligible at semester, and I can’t remember who we were playing but finding out at the at the last minute he was going to have to do some more work to qualify to get into A&M," A&M head coach Billy Kennedy said. "He was NCAA qualified but not A&M international student qualified."

"When you have a coach that is keeping a scholarship for you that long, it means a lot," Trocha-Morelos said. "He is risking that scholarship not knowing what is going to happen, believing in me no matter what the consequences were going to be. When I got cleared [by the NCAA], I could go anywhere I wanted, but having that person doing that for me, it just tells you a lot about what kind of coach you are going to have for the next four years. He did that for me — why should I not do it back for him?"

Trocha-Morelos had shown Kennedy and other college recruiters his skills by averaging 16 points and 10 rebounds a game for the Colombian under-18 team at the FIBA Americas in Brazil. But while waiting to become eligible at A&M, Trocha-Morelos’ basketball career consisted of watching the Aggies play and playing in pick-up games at A&M’s Student Recreation Center.

"I was destroying people at the Rec," Trocha-Morelos said. "I’m sorry for you guys, just going to the Rec having fun, not telling nobody who I was or anything. I was just having fun, and I remember people telling me you should try out for the basketball team and I said naah, man, I’m here just for the education. That is what I want.’ "

Trocha-Morelos has since played 127 games for the Aggies, starting 50. This season he’s averaging 6.9 points and 4.5 rebounds per game and has played a major role defensively with 30 blocked shots while leading the team in taking charges. His best game statistical came in an early season 113-66 victory over Savannah State when he had 10 points, 13 rebounds and seven assists.

"I was just happy he decided to honor his commitment, because he could have gone to a lot of other places and he decides to stay at A&M because he believed in this place and he believed in us," Kennedy said. "He felt good about us, and he felt good about A&M, loved it here on his visit. He believed in what we were talking about, and he honored his commitment, which in this day where kids change their commitments left and right means something special about him."

NOTES — Trocha-Morelos was honored with a national academic momentum award in April 2016 and recently became the 27th Aggie to join the exclusive 500-rebound club. He also was named to this season’s SEC community service team. … A&M also will honor Duane Wilson before Saturday’s game. Wilson transferred from Marquette before this season and was in and out of the Aggies’ lineup at point guard before deciding to sit out the rest of the year because of a knee injury. … Alabama beat A&M 79-57 on Dec. 30 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, but has lost its last four games. … Admon Gilder is 14 points shy of becoming the 37th A&M player to score 1,000 points. … Alabama freshman guard Collin Sexton is second in the SEC in scoring at 18.1 points a game.