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March 12, 2012
Texas Longhorn basketball: Who are they?
It is important to realize not only who plays for Texas, but how this team materialized.
SF Jaylen Bond (Class of 2011)
Once a Pittsburgh-verbal Bond accepted a Texas-sized invitation to attend in the last month before college classes began.
Not until this August was Bond certain he would bypass he planned reclassification.
Bond is the most stiff freshman. Frankly he does not fit the mold of strong, elastic power forwards Texas generally recruits.
Powerful yet rigid more accurately defines the game of Bond. Cincinnati should have no trouble dealing with Bond. The more minutes he sees action the better for UC.
Just keep him off the offensive glass.
Big East Comparison = Markus Kennedy (Villanova)
PG J'Covan Brown (Class of 2008)
The star. The worry. The ultimate concern for Cincinnati Friday afternoon is stopping, at the very least, slowing J'Covan Brown.
He had scored 20+ points eight times entering this season. Such a change in 2012 as only eight Big 12 contests found Brown below 20 points.
Like Sean Kilpatrick, Brown will take and make challenged shots. Big moments do not escape his purview.
Force him to give up the ball late for the best chance to win.
A fantastic free throw stroke enables Brown (20.1 ppg) to rack up easy points, but his upper body strength makes him special.
Brown abuses underdeveloped defenders with his stout shoulders. Most of buckets come in traffic and Cincinnati will have to cut off his slashing. Once J'Covan gets a step he will keep his man on his hip and finish with pride.
Big East Comparison = Truck Bryant (West Virginia)
C Clint Chapman (Class of 2007)
By the end of his moderate recruitment Chapman held offers from Oklahoma, Oregon, Nevada, California, Arizona State, and Texas.
Coach Rick Barnes called him 'one of the most improved players on the summer AAU circuit' on national Signing Day. His 10+ rebounds per game attracted regional recruiters. In truth Chapman matured into a prominent role slowly and even took an unorthodox fourth year redshirt.
He is the oldest player on the team and presents few challenges to the Bearcats.
Big East Comparison = Krys Faber (DePaul)
PG Sterling Gibbs (Class of 2011)
Younger brother of Pittsburgh's Ashton Gibbs, Sterling suffered a wild recruitment. After verbally committing to Maryland, Gibbs was lanced by Gary Williams' retirement.
When he decided (mid-May) Gibbs was also hearing from Louisville, Providence, Seton Hall, and UCLA. Though he had a written offer from SHU the rest hovered.
Gibbs was a integral part of a 20-4 run Texas amassed at Texas Tech in February.
Overall Gibbs found playing time in nonconference play. Like most freshmen he watched those minutes evaporate when the New Year commenced.
The four Big 12 opponents Gibbs earned double digit minutes against included Oklahoma, Oklahoma State x 2, and Texas Tech.
As far as Cincinati is concerned Gibbs is a bit player capable of a couple of assists. Nothing more.
PF Jonathan Holmes (Class of 2011)
Purdue and Texas both hosted Holmes officially. Teams like Texas Tech, Texas A&M, and Nebraska also offered.
Combo forward Jonathan Holmes prepped in San Antonio where he attacked from 10-12 feet out. With Texas he has been asked to post up more. If Cincinnati plays four guards Holmes will be in trouble. Parker would have to be his matchup, but it would be trepeditious for Texas.
Holmes has the dubious honor of tripping in the closing seconds at Texas Tech, thereby allowing TTU to force overtime.
Though he lacks the rabbit-like bounciness of Tristan Thompson the fresham Holmes can slide the feet on defense. He blocks the occasional shot and plays bigger than his 6'7".
Big East Comparison = Jamil Wilson (Marquette)
PG Myck Kabongo (Class of 2011)
Guarding Kabongo will be so much more daunting in man-to-man scenarios. Coach Cronin would be wise to keep his 2-3 in place because Kabongo glides with a ballerina's smoothness.
So effortless are his strides that defenders underestimate the pace of his dribble.
All of Kabongo's speedy dribbles and crafty moves will be made with his right hand.
Kabongo plays with sneaky speed comparable to Cashmere Wright. Neither dart around the floor but both create distance when needed.
Big East Comparison = Jason Clark (Georgetown) Jabarie Hinds (West Virginia)
SG Julien Lewis (Class of 2011)
Deciding upon Texas was easy for Lewis. He camped, picked up the offer, and committed all within a two day span. No other schools even got the chance to dissuade the then-sophomore.
A University of Texas fan since he was in 5th grade Lewis desperately wanted to follow in the tradition of D.J. Augustin and Daniel Gibson. His game resembles more Gibson than Augustin.
Like Holmes, Lewis fluttered in clutch moments. With the ball in his hands Lewis simply bobbled away a game-winning possession.
When left unattended Lewis can shoot. He is never the primary scoring option. Just be sure you don't forget he is on the floor.
Rhode Island, North Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Texas State, and Boston University all yielded multiple triples to Lewis.
Big East comparison = Ashton Gibbs (Pittsburgh)
SF Sheldon McClellan (Class of 2011)
Committed to Texas since his sophomore year Sheldon McClellan only collected four actual offers. Truthfully he would have garnered dozens if he let the process play out.
Considering the playing time and success already McClellan must be pleased with his choice.
McLellan is a great athlete, who will certainly grow into an unstoppable player for Texas. Right now he relies upon his athleticism while neglecting fundamentals.
He can run the floor with grace and even handle the ball out high. His versatility on the offensive end hints at greatness.
Texas was 15-9 when Sheldon didn't score 15+ points. It was actually bad news for the freshman to pour in points.
Big East Comparison = LaDontae Henton (Providence)
C Alexis Wangmene (Class of 2007 Center)
Quite the shot-blocker Wangmene reminds of a less agile Justin Jackson. For him a three block, two point game satiates the appetite. You might have heard of Wangmene's story, being adopted by San Antonio Spurs General Manager R.C. Buford.
The big man is hardly a threat offensively to do anything other than rebound.
Sadly Wangmene will miss the entire NCAA Tournament with a borken left wrist. It leaves Texas weaker inside. Yancy Gates should thrive in his absence.
Vacated minutes have been picked up by freshman Holmes.
Big East comparison = Henry Sims (Georgetown)
Few teams have attracted the mob of elite recruits as Texas in the last five years. From Jordan Hamilton and Avery Bradley to Cory Joseph and Tristan Thompson this southern university pulled in the best grouping of talent for 950 miles.
Kansas, Baylor, Kentucky, and formerly Memphis are the only other competitors within a two day drive recruiting on the same level.
And it has been this way for a decade. Remember the Class of 2004 with Lamarcus Aldridge (Portland Trail Blazer), Daniel Gibson (Cleveland Cavalier), Mike Williams (UC transfer)? Or how about the Class of 2006 with four future pros?!
NBA-scoring leader Kevin Durant, D.J. Augustin, Dexter Pittman, and Damion James all entered Texas together. Has anyone outside of North Carolina simultaneously pulled in that many stars legally?
And while its gluttonous signings would precede uproarious coaching celebrations at any D1 college there has been the unintended downside.
With great players often come frequent early departures. Yes, Cincinnati recovered swiftly from Lance Stephenson. But imagine losing Lance Stephenson. And then three Lance's again the next year.
That is essentially what Texas endured when Cory Joseph, Jordan Hamilton, and Tristan Thompson bounced out of town Big 12 All-Freshman Team member Avery Bradley hopped along.
All four could still be eligible for Texas, making for a very different roster. Also, a team featuring these four superstars would undoubtedly seen a seed with a single 1 next to their name.