Texas Longhorns: Rick Barnes

Momentum is a powerful thing in the world of college basketball recruiting. While it tends to be a constant for a select few national powerhouses like Kentucky, Duke, North Carolina and Kansas, virtually all other programs in the country are constantly competing for any edge that can push them to that next level.

In the wake of our initial 2014 ESPN 100 player rankings release last week and as we start a team-by-team breakdown of 2014 recruiting targets by conference over the next two weeks, here’s a look at five college hoops programs that are trending in the wrong direction on the momentum meter heading into the 2014 recruiting class.
Julius Randle played out his recruiting until just about the 11th hour. And when the music finally stopped playing and Randle picked Kentucky on Wednesday, there were three schools left standing with broken hearts. Here’s a look at where those programs go from here.

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Taylor gives Longhorns PG insurance 

January, 5, 2013
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Three-star senior point guard Isaiah Taylor has committed to Texas over Alabama, SMU, Fresno State and Creighton, among others. He is the first commit in the Longhorns’ 2013 basketball class.

"I had a good relationship with the coaching staff ever since they jumped in about a month and a half ago,” said Taylor, a native of Oakland, Calif., who attends The Village School in Houston, Texas.

[+] EnlargeRick Barnes
David Butler II/US PresswireRick Barnes will love the insurance and style of play new Texas point guard commit Isaiah Taylor will provide.
Taylor, who ran with Texas Pro on the AAU/travel circuit, will give coach Rick Barnes an athletic, pass-first point guard who will provide insurance in the event Myck Kabongo departs for the NBA. He could challenge Javan Felix for the starting position and should offer much-needed depth at the most important position in college basketball.

What does Taylor bring to the Longhorns?

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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
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 Video: Training with Todd Wright

July, 29, 2012
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video

The Longhorn Network goes inside the offseason workouts with the Texas basketball team.

Is KD really a Longhorn?

June, 19, 2012
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Kevin Durant spent one season in burnt orange. Is he really a Longhorn? In what sense was KD ever a college basketball player?

These are the questions asked by Grantland writer (and UT alum) Bryan Curtis.

Durant was only in Austin for one season, from 2006 to 2007. And he was required to be there thanks to the one-and-done rule implemented by the NBA that year. The result is that the connection I feel with Durant is more tenuous than the one I feel with, say, Ricky Williams. There has to be a better, more sophisticated way for an alum to process the one-and-done college career.

The high-minded reason for this: Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, and every one-and-doner deserves for this crucial-if-compulsory college season to be woven into their basketball DNA. The real reason: As a Longhorn, I want to take credit for the rings KD's eventually going to win. So sue me.


Curtis makes a great point. Durant was required, by rule, to go to school. He picked Texas, so in that, Longhorns fans can take some pride. And while he might only have a handful of highlights from his time on the 40 Acres, Durant still seems part of the UT community fabric.

Curtis also points out that this is a trend at Texas, and one the extends outside of sports. Computer magnate Michael Dell, video game developer Richard Garriott and legendary news man Walter Cronkite all attended Texas and "left early" for the pros.

Read the full article.

AUSTIN, Texas -- It’s not often the football program is jealous of the basketball program around Texas.

But count summer as one of those times. That’s because a new NCAA rule allows Rick Barnes and his staff two hours per day and up to eight hours a week to work with guys if they are enrolled in summer school. Meanwhile Mack Brown continues to be somewhat in the dark about what goes on with his players’ development in the summer.

“We can't even meet with [players] on football over the summer,” Brown said. “We can talk to them about their personal lives and academics, but not football. Basketball has a better rule. We're pitching to the NCAA. If you are going to pay a guy a scholarship, to me you should be able to ask him to show up and work.”

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video

Breaking down the 2012 hoops class 

April, 12, 2012
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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.
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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Class of 2012 shooting guard DeMarcus Holland gave his verbal pledge to the Longhorns during an official visit on Saturday, he’s told HornsNation.

"I'm very excited to be able to be a part of the great future they have down there," Holland said.

Holland, who stands 6-foot-3 and 175 pounds, is Texas’ second commitment from Garland (Texas) Naaman Forest. Prince Ibeh, a 6-foot-10 center rated No. 59 in the ESPNU 100, has already signed with the Longhorns.

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Three Deep: Tough weekend for hoops 

March, 19, 2012
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1. Tough hoops weekend: It wasn't a fun weekend for Texas basketball. Both the men’s and women’s teams lost in their opening games. The men fell to Cincinnati, 65-59, and the women lost to West Virginia, 68-55.

As the game ended in Nashville and Rick Barnes’ team once again saw an early NCAA tournament exit, the thought for most Texas fans turned to what happens next? Will junior J’Covan Brown leave early? Will Myck Kabongo be a one-and-done? Answers to these two questions will do more to shape next season than anything else.

Chad Ford has Brown as someone leaning toward the draft and projects him as a second round pick. Kabongo doesn’t appear ready for the NBA after his struggles running the offense this season, but Ford cites that he could be a better pro if he finds a system that fits his style.

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