Texas Longhorns: Cameron Ridley



AUSTIN, Texas -- Texas suffered its biggest loss of the season on the night it pulled off its biggest win.

Prior to the Longhorns' 85-67 victory over No. 23 North Carolina at the Frank Erwin Center, point guard Myck Kabongo was ruled ineligible for the season by the NCAA, barring an appeal, according to sources from within the Texas athletics department. The story was first reported by Yahoo! Sports on Wednesday night.

The loss of Kabongo put a serious dent in this young Texas team's chances of making a 16th consecutive NCAA tournament. But the win against the Tar Heels at least gives the 7-4 Longhorns some hope.

Playing with a true freshman point guard in Javan Felix and only freshmen and sophomores on the court, UT played the role of the aggressor, pushed the more talented and savvy Heels around, built a big lead and -- for the first time this season -- didn't crumble.

"There is process that every student-athlete goes through, and I can only tell you that process is not done. We are in the middle of that process," said Texas coach Rick Barnes of the Kabongo situation. "Every student-athlete is entitled to a process if something comes up, and that process is ongoing."

Kabongo has been under investigation for impermissible benefits concerning a workout that involved agent Rich Paul. According to sources, the penalty was so severe because Kabongo had been less than straightforward when the NCAA initially questioned him.

While Barnes refused to take further questions on Kabongo, North Carolina coach Roy Williams now has plenty of them about his team.

"It was like comedy of errors, except it wasn't very blankety-blank funny," Williams said.

The Tar Heels' defense refused to extend in the first half and allowed Texas to build a 19-point lead. That lead was aided by two straight surprising 3-pointers from Texas forward Jonathan Holmes. The sophomore had made only three shots from beyond the arc in his 10 previous games.

[+] EnlargeJavan Felix
Brendan Maloney/USA TODAY SportsFreshman point guard Javan Felix effectively piloted Texas, scoring 8 points with 8 assists.
"We backed off him," Williams said.

And North Carolina continued to back down for most of the night.

"They did a better job of pushing the pace and getting us back on our heels," Williams said. "It seems like they got every loose ball."

There were plenty of those to go around, as Carolina turned it over 18 times. Texas, typically not a solid transition team, scored 14 points off those turnovers.

"Coming into the game, coach Barnes preached to us to getting the ball out and getting back in transition, and that was our game plan along with rebounding -- and that was what we tried to do," Felix said.

"They outran a running team," is how Williams put it.

In fact, Texas struggled only when it went into half-court sets. Starting the second half, North Carolina started to value the basketball more and made more of an effort to keep the Texas offense in front of it. That, coupled with the aggressiveness of James Michael McAdoo (14 points, 9 rebounds) and Reggie Bullock (a career-high 13 rebounds), allowed UNC to cut the lead to four.

Given that Texas has been a team that has struggled down the stretch -- the Longhorns were outscored 13-2 down the stretch in a 65-63 loss to UCLA -- it appeared as if the tide had started to turn.

Until, that is, North Carolina neglected to communicate on defense and allowed Cameron Ridley to throw down an uncontested dunk to push the lead back to seven with 6 minutes, 35 seconds remaining.

"We were aggressive and moved the ball pretty well, and some guys knocked some shots down," Barnes said. "But this was a game we thought would be won in transition and on the boards."

Texas didn't win on the boards in the box score (North Carolina had 43 to the Horns' 40). But UT did win in second-chance points with 18, and in fast-break points with 14.

"We have had a couple of tough losses because we had not played as hard as we should," said Holmes, who finished with 15 points and 8 boards. "[Wednesday night], we came out and did what we had to do. We definitely set the bar high for the rest of the season."

Regardless of who might be with Texas for the rest of the season.

--HornsNation writer Max Olson contributed to this report
College basketball’s early signing period is less than a month away and the Longhorns are still without a commitment in 2013. What gives?

Should Texas be in panic mode right now, especially in a year when three of the top five players in the country are from the state of Texas and two of them (Andrew and Aaron Harrison) have already committed elsewhere?

Julius Randle
Kelly KlineCan Texas land top forward Julius Randle?
Not so fast says Reggie Rankin, a scout and analyst for ESPN's RecruitingNation. Rankin, who has coached in the SEC, Big 12, MAC and various other places for 14 seasons, answered a few questions for HornsNation about Texas’ 2013 class and a few others about the program in general.
AUSTIN, Texas -- All of this could have been avoided.

Myck Kabongo could be taking part in his first NBA training camp right now and not be the subject of an NCAA investigation into his relationship with a professional agent, which Yahoo! Sports first reported late Wednesday night.

But the Longhorns sophomore point guard didn’t want his last game in a Texas uniform to be a 65-59 loss to Cincinnati in the first round of the NCAA tournament. He wanted his legacy in Austin to be much more memorable than that and figured he could make that happen with at least one more season as a Longhorn.

[+] EnlargeMyck Kabongo
Brendan Maloney/US PresswireAs a freshman, Myck Kabongo averaged 9.6 points per game last season for the Longhorns.
“Personally for me I didn’t want to go out without winning,” Kabongo said recently. “This program deserves to win. They’ve done everything possible from a Sweet 16, Elite 8, Final Four. They just haven’t gotten to that big stage yet. I just think with the big pieces that we have coming back we could do that.”

The Big 12’s head coaches reminded everyone last week of the expectations he brings with him into the season by naming him to the Preseason All-Big 12 Team. But if the findings in the NCAA investigation cause him to miss time this season, those expectations could be tempered a bit.

Kabongo, a 2011-12 All-Big 12 honorable mention, started all 34 games last season as a true freshman. A pass-first point guard, he finished fourth in the league in assists per game (5.2), second on the team in steals (38) and third on the team in scoring (9.8 ppg).

He was expected to be the face of a program whose roster features just two seniors (both walk-ons) and no juniors. He is up to 180 pounds after adding 10 pounds of muscle this summer, and said he felt much better about being able to handle the rigors of an NCAA season.

“I thought I could use another year of college to get stronger,” he said. “Talent-wise I think I was ready to go. But physically and mentally it was a good thing for me to come back, get bigger and stronger, and build a bond with my teammates.”

(Read full post)

LHN breaks down the 2012 hoops class

April, 14, 2012
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William Wilkerson joined Longhorn Extra and Lowell Galindo on the Longhorn Network to talk about the Cameron Ridley signing and Texas' 2012 recruiting class.
When the Longhorns come out of the tunnel at the Frank Erwin Center next season the back end of the warm-up line will look entirely different than it did last season.

You might have to strain your neck a bit to notice.

Thanks to Texas’ incoming recruiting class, which is ranked No. 4 by ESPN, the Longhorns will have three players above 6-foot-10 on their roster.

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William Wilkerson on The Adams Theory

April, 12, 2012
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William Wilkerson joined The Adams Theory with Sean Adams and Chance Mock to discuss Cameron Ridley's signing and what he brings to the Longhorns.

Listen to the full interview here.

Board Meeting: April 11, 2012 

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Welcome to your daily Board Meeting. Each evening we’ll update you on the day’s hottest topics on the HornsNation forum.

1. Nkemdiche coming to Texas?: It seemed as if the recruiting season was slowing down after the spring game as Texas focused on which defensive backs and remaining targets to pursue, but Robert Nkemdiche might have changed the equation.

The defensive end, who projects to be one of the top players in the 2013 class, spoke with Max Olson and expressed his interest in taking a visit to Texas.

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Cameron Ridley has finally signed with Texas thus ending the speculation and the angst that has lasted for five months and, oh say, about 13 years around Austin.


Of course, Ridley is only responsible for those five months. That’s how long it has been between the early signing period -- the one in which the 6-foot-10 center from Ft. Bend Bush High just outside Houston declined to sign -- to this. Those other 13 years? Well, that’s how long it has been since Texas had a real-life, back-to-the-basket, drop-stepping, space-eating center in the program.
[+] EnlargeCmaeron Ridley
Davide De PasCameron Ridley will give Texas a big body in the post that should also help the perimeter game.
There were some guys who tried to, shall we say, fill the void. Dexter Pittman maybe best fits that description. But he never averaged more than 5.9 rebounds or 10.4 points and as a senior and only played 19 minutes per game. Connor Atchley, Chris Owens, Jason Klotz were all supposed to be guys who could, on a good day, possibly step in a time or two and be big in the lane.

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Sterling Gibbs leaving Texas

April, 10, 2012
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AUSTIN, Texas -- This time it wasn’t the NBA draft that lured away a Texas player.

It was the lure of playing time.

Sterling Gibbs, a backup point guard has elected to transfer from Texas. The rising sophomore played sparingly as a freshman on a team that had just nine scholarship players.

Gibbs appeared in 30 games, but started none. He averaged 7.5 minutes and 2.6 points per game.

Gibbs is the second player to elect to leave Texas this offseason. Guard J'Covan Brown gave up his final year of eligibility to enter the draft. Texas was able to hang onto point guard Myck Kabongo and that undoubtedly played a large role in Gibbs’ decision to transfer.

Texas signed Javan Felix, a 5-foot-11, 190-pound point guard from Saint Augustine High in New Orleans, in the fall. Felix was already expected to be Kabongo’s backup or even run the floor with Kabongo on occasion. Felix is rated 72 in ESPN’s top 100 players.

With the departure of Gibbs, Texas has five players currently on scholarship and another five who signed letters of intent in the fall. The Longhorns also recently picked up a commitment from shooting guard DeMarcus Holland (Garland, Texas/Naaman Forest). Post player Cameron Ridley, a top 10-rated recruit, is also expected to sign his letter of intent when the spring signing period begins Wednesday.

That leaves Texas with 12 scholarship players. The Longhorns continues to hope to add one more to get to the maximum 13 -- small forward Devonta Pollard. The 6-foot-7 Pollard has Texas among his final four, but just recently completed a trip to Alabama and is headed to Georgetown this weekend. Pollard to ESPN’s TideNation he will make his decision when he returns from Georgetown.

Board Meeting: April 3, 2012 

April, 3, 2012
4/03/12
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Welcome to your daily Board Meeting. Each evening we’ll update you on the day’s hottest topics on the HornsNation forum.

1. Smith and Davis get offers: It was bound to happen sometime. Texas finally offered the two top in-state defense back prospects. Maurice Smith and Antwuan Davis were both in Austin for the Orange-White game. They got their offers Monday. Neither has committed, but at least the waiting is over for them. Whatever Longhorns defensive backs coach Duane Akina’s vetting process was, it must have been intense. However, maybe it was the right approach. There are few spots left and Texas can’t guess that its going after the right prospects. Furthermore, DB was such a huge area of need, and given the fact that luring two big prospects – Vonn Bell and Marcell Harris – out of SEC country would be no easy feat, getting the best in Texas was key.

Cole Luke, who visited this past weekend from Arizona, did not leave with an offer.

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All-American Championship recap 

April, 2, 2012
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NEW ORLEANS – The second-annual All-American Championship consisted of two all-star games featuring 38 of the top seniors and underclassmen in the country.

The difference in the pair of games (North vs. South, East vs. West) versus the McDonald’s All-American Game was the level of competitiveness. A handful of McDonald’s All-Americans were sprinkled into the event but for the most part, the All-American Championship featured outstanding players with a chip on their shoulders. The “McDonald’s slight” was evident in the approach by many of the players and some acknowledged they had something to prove, none more than UConn signee Omar Calhoun (Middle Village, N.Y./Christ The King).

Calhoun's 26 points was the best scoring performance in the two-year history of the event. Normally, in an all-star setting that would mean he scored on run outs and easy buckets but, his game was exactly opposite. Known for his deep stroke, Calhoun also unleashed a barrage of midrange shots within the flow of the game. More impressive was his ability to finish through contact, get to the line and knock down free throws. His role at Connecticut expands with every declaration for the draft and he’ll be ready to take the floor as a freshman.

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Texas commit Cameron Ridley (Richmond, Texas/Bush) led all post players with 12 points and added nine rebounds and two blocks Wednesday night at the McDonald’s All-American Game at the United Center in Chicago.

Ridley told ESPNHS’s Jason Jordan he wasn’t thrilled with taking a backseat in the guard-heavy game and assuming a role as a “garbage man” cleaning up misses.

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Top incoming fresmen prospects 

March, 28, 2012
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Chad Ford takes a look at some of the top incoming freshmen and their NBA prospects:

March Madness has been the primary stage for NBA draft prospects over the past few weeks. But with games on hiatus until Saturday, a huge contingent of NBA scouts and GMs traveled to Chicago this week to attend the practices for the McDonald's All-American game.

In the coming weeks the Nike Hoop Summit and the Jordan Brand Classic will also feature the top high school players in the country.

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Three Deep: More good news for UT hoops?

March, 28, 2012
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1. Waiting on Brown: First Myck Kabongo decides he’s staying on the 40 Acres. Then, Texas fans finally here from top recruit Cameron Ridley who told ESPN’s Dave Telep that he will sign his national letter of intent in April. All in all, the good news is rolling in for Rick Barnes’ team. But now you have to wonder how, if at all, will any of this affect J’Covan Brown.

There’s still no news on that front. But it’s interesting to consider the possible lineups for next season. One version is Kabongo, Sheldon McClellan, Ridley, Julien Lewis and Jonathan Holmes. Four sophomores and a freshman. Not bad. NCAA tourney berths have probably been won with less. But when you think of having Brown in that lineup, this looks like a team that could make some noise in March, 2013. It’s a big if, but having Brown as the scorer he is, but also a guiding presence to the young guys suddenly make Texas a little deeper and certainly more explosive on offense. The ball is in Brown’s court.

2. Visitors welcome: It will be interesting to see who shows up for Sunday’s spring game. William Wilkerson reported that a trio of Lancaster (Texas) prospects, including Texas commit Daeshon Hall, will be there. This is surely the first of many reports about which prospects are coming to Austin. On top, there are said to be a number of sophomores who have also been invited.

As the schedule goes, that could determine where Texas stands with some 2013 prospects. LSU is holding its spring game Saturday and some Texas targets are attempting to attend both. Baton Rouge to Austin isn’t that difficult of a trip, but we’ll see if that has any bearing on landing anymore 2013 prospects this weekend.

3. Meetings, meetings: Hopefully college football fans aren’t holding their breaths waiting on anything to come from the BCS meetings. The meetings went on for more than seven hours Monday and continue. The conference commissioners and Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick are meeting in Grapevine, Texas, and playoffs are amongst the things being discussed. SEC commission Mike Slive intimated that change could be a ways off. But, on the bright side, there are more meetings in April.

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