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Pivotal year for Barnes and Texas?

5/15/2013

Rick Barnes' track record as the head coach at Texas is pretty impressive. After all, the 2012-13 season marked the first time the Longhorns had missed the NCAA Tournament under his watch -- a reign that spans all the way back to the 1998-99 campaign. But the world of college athletics is extremely competitive and it never feels good when your down year is also your most recent year. With that in mind, UT wouldn't mind bouncing back in a hurry.

Of course, that's easier said than done in the typically competitive Big 12. Kansas just added super-prospect Andrew Wiggins to make yet another run at the conference title. And Oklahoma State welcomes back Marcus Smart -- the potential top pick in the 2013 draft, had he opted to jump early. In fact, there's a decent chance those are the top two picks in the 2014 crop.

Texas, meanwhile, lost Myck Kabongo to the NBA this offseason. Plus, Julien Lewis and Sheldon McClellan are both transferring now. Suddenly, the Longhorns don't have a single double-digit scorer returning from last year's group. Two months ago, it was possible they might have three.

All is not lost in Austin, but there's work to be done. A top 30 recruiting class is making its way to campus for the fall, led by four-star talent Kendal Yancy-Harris. That should certainly help and, in a way, the explosive point guard represents exactly what the program needs right now. As Jeff Borzello of CBS Sports points out, the biggest concern for Barnes might be the fact that elite in-state prospects are getting away. In years past, that typically wasn't the case. And, whenever it was, Barnes found ways to land top tier recruits from elsewhere to make up for it. Keeping Yancy-Harris around is a positive, but they'll need more guys like him if they want to get back to the level of play the school is accustomed to.