https://www.hornsports.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/barnespress.jpgFor those who havenâ€™t been keeping up with the team this year or anyone still trying to learn the new faces, below is a quick rundown of the roster and some information about each player to get a better idea of what this team currently looks like and the roles each player currently has. This team is young but it is filled with depth at each position (PG, SG, SF, PF, C).
This piece is a little tough to write right now because Iâ€™m still very frustrated with the NCAA for suspending starting point guard Myck Kabongo. Kabongo apparently ran into some trouble when the NCAA questioned who paid for his travel to a basketball workout that was out of the state in the off-season. Reports have come out saying that when being interviewed about the situation Kabongo wasnâ€™t completely forth coming with all the information the NCAA was looking for. Sources: NCAA to suspend Texas guard Myck Kabongo for season – Yahoo! Sports In result KabongoÂ received the â€˜Dez Bryant treatmentâ€™ and will be suspended for the entire season.
Look, I understand if the NCAA feels the need to punish Kabongo if he indeed did receive some help in payment of travel from an agent (this information has still not been confirmed) or if he was trying to hide something from the NCAA. But giving him an entire year suspension for traveling to a basketball training session is absurd. And on top of that, letting the information leak during Texasâ€™ biggest game/win of the season so far is a DOUCHE MOVE by the NCAA. This is a great example of why college athletes should be allowed to have representation against the NCAA, like coaches and administrators. Athletes need more of a voice and spokesman. I cannot stand the NCAA and how they go about their business â€œfor the kidsâ€.
There is still a chance Kabongo can be re-instated if he succeeds during an appeal process. But as of now he is suspended for the entire season. Luckily for Texas, depth will not be an issue this season. Letâ€™s run down the roster.
2012 â€“ 2013 Texas Menâ€™s Basketball Roster
FR Javan Felix, Point Guard – (pronounced Jâ€™Van Feâ€™Lix â€“ itâ€™s Cajun, like part of my heritage) Felix came to UT as a 3-star recruit out of New Orleans, Louisiana. When Felix signed his letter of intent there were some people who questioned why Rick Barnes would bring in another young PG when he had Kabongo. I havenâ€™t heard from those people sinceâ€¦ Felix has been starting all season in Kabongoâ€™s absence and will now be the starter for the remainder of the season upon hearing the news that Kabongo is suspended. Thereâ€™s a lot to like about Felix. Heâ€™s listed at 5â€™10â€ but my roommate saw him at a local gas station and said he thinks he was at least a couple inches taller than Felix, and my roommate is 5â€™10â€. Regardless, Felix is built like a bulldog. He has a powerful frame for his size and impressively is still pretty quick off the dribble. Though Kabongo is out, Felix will be able to run the offense pretty well. He has already done a nice job in his first 10 games pushing the ball up the floor, spreading it around, and attacking the rim. The only knocks on his game I have so far is his lack of a jump shot (he is no natural outside shooter) and he has turned the ball over more than Iâ€™d like to see (but the entire team has been sloppy in that regard and that should improve as the season continues and chemistry builds).
Felix is a natural point guard who can see the floor well, isnâ€™t afraid to fight for loose balls and attack the rim. He is an above average defender, and leads the team in steals (1.5 SPG). He has decent ball handling, but he lacks a reliable outside jump shot right now.
SO Sheldon McClellan, Shooting Guard â€“ The 6â€™4â€ sophomore out of Houston (Bellaire â€“ my dadâ€™s high school), Texas is the teamâ€™s best shooter. McClellan has a unique shooting technique and itâ€™s a relatively quick release but he has mastered his own craft. McClellan is currently the Longhornâ€™s leading scorer, with 15.3 PPG and is easily the teamâ€™s best free-throw shooter (88%). When heâ€™s hot, heâ€™s on fire and can drain 3-point shots and jumpers from all over the floor. He has been pretty active on offense and around the rim on a more consistent basis, which is an improvement from last year. But McClellan isnâ€™t a natural with the ball in his hands and tends to make some wild passes from time to time. He can get to the rim, but itâ€™s not always pretty. I like him more as a spot up shooter or a guy who gets the ball as he is cutting to the basket. He also isnâ€™t the best defender on the floor, but he isnâ€™t terrible either.
McClellan will most likely be the leading scorer all season for the Longhorns. He can hit a jumper from anywhere on the floor and should be the guy who has the ball in his hands late in the game when itâ€™s time to shoot free throws. He may not have the best ball handling skills but he usually finds a way to score and makes a big impact on offense.
SO Julian Lewis, Shooting Guard â€“ Listed at 6â€™3â€ and out of Galveston, Texas, Julien Lewis is another guard the Longhorns will be relying on to score the ball. Unlike McClellan, Lewisâ€™ game is a bit more rounded. Not only can he hit jumpers on offense but he also has been an annoying defender for opposing teams. Heâ€™s second on the team in steals (1.2 SPG) and gives good energy on both ends of the floor. Lewis is also a decent free throw shooter (71%) and is averaging 11.2 PPG. Having Lewis on the team is a bit of a luxury because if McClellan is having an off night scoring the ball then Lewis is a great option to have to go to at any point in the game. He also adds versatility by being effective in the starting line-up as well as coming off the bench.
Lewis has a good jump shot and can also score from all over the floor. But Lewis brings energy onto the court at both ends of the floor and plays with passion. He is another good scoring option for the Longhorns and is another weapon for Barnes to use at his disposal.
FR Demarcus Holland, guard â€“ Originally thought to take a red-shirt this season, Demarcus Holland was activated once Myck Kabongo was suspended. The 6â€™2â€ freshman out of Garland, Texas is one of the scrappiest players on the team. He came to Texas as a shooting guard but has been forced into the back-up point guard role once Javan Felix was thrust into the starting line up. Demarcus Holland has actually played well for someone who was thought to take a year to develop before he would see action in a college game. When you watch him you can tell he is still learning the point guard position and working on his ball-handling and passing but with that said he has impressed me with what he has been able to do so far with the ball in his hands and with the energy he brings to the floor. One of my good friends, who was a good basketball player in high school, described Holland as a guy who just enjoys being out there and has a lot of fun on the floor. Thatâ€™s pretty spot-on if you ask me.
Holland still needs to work on his jump shot, passing, and ball handling. He is a decent defender just because he plays with high energy. Once thought to take a red-shirt season to work on his game, Holland will now be called upon to spell Felix and the other guards all season long.
FR Ioannis Papapetrou, Small Forward â€“ Iâ€™ve heard Papa and Papi used as nicknames for the 6â€™8â€ European forward out of Athens, Greece. Out of the entire freshman class that the Longhorns signed for this season Papapetrou is the most intriguing player for me. He has the potential to be a very versatile player and a tough match-up for any team to guard. Papapetrou can shoot the 3-ball (41%) but has the size to get into the lane and find a shot down low. He isnâ€™t necessarily a post player but he has used his height well. The skill that has stood out the most for me is his ball handling. He isnâ€™t the type of ball handler Kevin Durant was with his size, and he really isnâ€™t even that quick or spectacular with the ball in his hands, but he is decent and even played some point-forward earlier in the season. Being able to take guys to the rim off the dribble more consistently would create all kinds of problems for defenses. Iâ€™d also like to see him be more aggressive getting rebounds and taking the ball up strong inside. If he continues to develop on both ends of the floor he could be a player that gets national attention his junior season (I think he sticks around that long unless he explodes onto the season his sophomore year or wants to go play in Europe).
Papapetrou is a nice role player for the Longhorns right now. He can come in and spread the floor with his jump shot beyond the arc, can handle the ball decently (though his passing decisions could improve) and can bang around some down low. I see potential in him but it may take some time for him to develop his game and take his play to the next level.
FR Connor Lammert, Forward â€“ Before the season started I really wasnâ€™t sure what to expect from Lammert or where exactly Barnes would play him. Like Papapetrou, Lammert is a tall forward (6â€™9â€) who can provide the team with versatility while on the floor. The freshman from Churchill High School in San Antonio hasnâ€™t found a rhythm beyond the arc yet (21%) but is a guy with a high basketball IQ and just seems to make good plays. Iâ€™d like to see him be more aggressive around the glass. And if his outside shot starts falling he will also be a tough match-up for most defenses.
Lammert is a smart basketball player and has great height to go with his fundamental game. He could improve his post moves and be more aggressive around the basket but you can tell this is someone coach Barnes enjoys coaching.
SO Jonathan Holmes, Power Forward â€“ Another San Antonio native, the 6â€™7â€ Holmes has been a strong force down low for Texas all season long. He is currently leading the team in rebounding with an average of 8 per game and continues to work hard around the rim for clean-up duty off of missed shots on offense. As a power forward, Holmes is a bit undersized. But he isnâ€™t intimidated at all by taller players and plays with great strength and tenacity in the paint. Though he is able to bang around down low in college and score the ball close to the rim, if he wants to take his game to the NBA then he will need to develop more of an outside shot and thatâ€™s exactly what he has been doing this season. When I first saw him taking 3â€™s in the beginning of the season I was surprised and actually curious as to why he was even attempting 3â€™s. He only attempted 40 shots beyond the arc last season (which is actually way more shots than I remembered). And out of those 40 he made 10. But 10 games into the season Holmes has already attempted 19 3â€™s (1 shy of half his total last season) and has made just 5. However, last night against UNC he was 2/3 beyond the arc and the 3â€™s he made were actually nice shots. So it looks like this will be a permanent part of his game and something he is looking to improve on.
Holmes is undersized at the power forward position but youâ€™d never know it by looking at his stats after the game. He bangs around down low, hustles for rebounds, and has some nice moves to get the ball in the hoop. He will be a big time player for Texas all season long.
SO Jaylen Bond, Power Forward â€“ Built almost identically like Jonathan Holmes, the 6â€™7â€ Bond has been held out most of the season with a sprained ankle. Bond started the season on the bench with a right ankle sprain. In just 5 minutes against Chaminade, Bond was able to pull down 3 rebounds before injuring his left ankle, which forced him to sit out since then. But according to coach Barnes, Bond is close to returning to action in games. Like Holmes, Bond is also undersized at the power forward position. And like Holmes, he doesnâ€™t let that hinder him from fighting for rebounds and banging around in the paint. But unlike Holmes, as a freshman Bond wasnâ€™t as skilled on offense. He was 0/2 shooting 3â€™s last year so I doubt he will start jacking up more shots beyond the arc like Holmes has been.
I like Bond a lot. He works hard, can hold his own down low on defense and is relentless around the glass. He isnâ€™t a big time scorer and struggled from the FT line last year, but his presence alone in the paint will help the Longhorns once he returns.
FR Cameron Ridley, Center â€“ Coming to Texas as the most highly touted freshman of his class, the 6â€™9â€, 270-pound, 4-star center is starting to take baby steps towards developing into a good post player for the Longhorns. Ridley has the size and touch that all great post players possess. Though he resembles Dexter Pittman as far as his size (when Dexter was a senior after losing a lot of weight), Ridleyâ€™s play is already at a higher level than Pittmanâ€™s ever was. Heâ€™s only averaging 6.3 PPG and 5.5 PPG, but he is leading the team in blocks (2.3 BPG) and in field goal percentage (51% from the field). With each and every game you can start to see more of Ridleyâ€™s skills develop as he adjusts to the game speed and talent at the division 1 level.
Ridley still needs work in developing his post moves and learning to use his size to his advantage. Iâ€™d also like to see him be more aggressive getting rebounds. But there is a lot to like about the freshman big man and the potential he has.
FR Prince Ibeh, Center-Forward â€“ The 6â€™10â€ Ibeh also came to Texas as a 4-star recruit. But the skills and style of play Ibeh has are a bit different than how Ridley plays. He doesnâ€™t look as natural on offense in the paint and wonâ€™t be banging around down low like Ridley, but Ibehâ€™s height definitely cannot be taught and he does a decent job of using his height to grab rebounds and causes cutting guard to think twice before they take the ball to the rim.
Ibeh wonâ€™t be relied upon to score the ball down low on offense. But he moves around the floor with a little bit more quickness than Ridley and will be a good option to have as a back-up center all year long for Ridley. Ibeh needs to improve his post moves and post defense, but he could develop into a good player for the Longhorns down the line.
The Practice Squad
Dean Melchionni and Andrew dick are the only seniors on the team. They are also the guys who usually donâ€™t see the floor unless there is a minute or two left in a blowout game where they can snag some playing time. Danny Newsome, a freshman, is also a guy who most likely wonâ€™t ever see playing time this season. But all three of these guys are instrumental in practice and help the team get better each and every day. They are great teammates.
This entire team has good depth at each position. They have already had their ups and downs this year but they could develop into a dangerous squad if they can avoid turning the ball over as much as they have been and improve on their chemistry and offensive flow in the half court. As of right now I donâ€™t think this squad will make the tournament in March. But if they play in conference games like they did last night against UNC then they would definitely have a shot at making the tournament. Losing Myck Kabongo is a big loss of Texas but itâ€™s not the end of the world for this team.