Welcome to The Sports Bank’s fourth annual college basketball season preview series where we break 111 teams in the 111 days leading up to the opening tip-off of the 2013-2014 season. We will rank the 84 power conference teams (including the new Big East and American Athletic Conferences) and top 27 mid-majors in reverse power ranking order. We’ll break down rosters, transfers, incoming freshmen, non-conference schedules, and pick a player to watch for each team.
What has happened to the Texas Longhorns basketball program? In a short span, they have gone from a regularly ranked, nationally relevant team to a struggling mess that might run head coach Rick Barnes out of town.
Last Season: 7th, 7-11 in Big 12, 16-18 overall
Predicted Big 12 Finish: 7th
Projected Depth Chart
C: Cameron Ridley (So)/Prince Ibeh (So)
PF: Jonathan Holmes (Jr)
SF: Connor Lammert (So)/Martez Walker (Fr)
SG: DeMarcus Holland (So)/Demarcus Croaker (Fr)/Kendal Yancy (Fr)
PG: Javan Felix (So)/Isaiah Taylor (Fr)
Gone: PG-Myck Kabongo, SG-Shelden McClellan (transfer-Miami FL), SG-Julien Lewis (transfer-Fresno State), PF-Jaylen Bond (transfer-Temple), F-Ioannis Papapetrou (signed pro deal overseas)
The Texas Longhorns took a huge hit this off-season with the loss of Myck Kabongo to the NBA Draft, transfers of Julien Lewis, Shelden McClellan, and Jaylen Bond, and Ioannis Papapetrou’s recent decision to sign a professional contract overseas. That means the Horns lose their top four scorers from a year ago and will once again be a very young team.
A huge concern for Barnes will be finding a way to score the basketball. Javan Felix is the team’s top returning scorer despite averaging just 6.8 points per game last year. He was thrust into the starting point guard role due to the suspension of Kabongo and certainly took his lumps during his freshman campaign but that should only help him this season now that he has a year of experience under his belt. Freshman Isaiah Taylor will serve as Felix’s back-up.
Replacing Lewis, McClellan, and Papapetrou on the wing play is going to be the biggest question mark for Texas. Sophomore DeMarcus Holland has the edge on the starting two guard spot but newcomers Demarcus Croaker and Kendal Yancy figure to push him hard for playing time. Combo forward Connor Lammert is an inside/outside guy who should get the nod at small forward but is also capable of playing the four. Martez Walker is a freshman wing and the only real other option to play the three so don’t be surprised if Barnes is forced to use a three-guard line-up for significant stretches of action.
Junior Jonathan Holmes is the lone upperclassmen on the roster and will be relied upon heavily to take a step up in his game. He is a bit undersized at 6-7 but is physical down low and can stretch defenses with his outside shooting. Cameron Ridley and Prince Ibeh were highly recruited big men coming out of high school but struggled last year with their transition to the college game and need to be more productive as sophomore.
With all these questions, it is hard to imagine that Texas will be any better this year compared to last season when they missed out on the NCAA Tournament for the first time during Barnes’ tenure. As a result, Barnes might be on his final legs in Austin since he is failing to land the high level recruits that once he did and the program is having a hard time keeping their quality players in Austin. Something must be up and don’t be surprised if Texas looks for a fresh start next off-season if there is another below average season for the Longhorns.
Player to Watch: Cameron Ridley
A top ten recruit in the 2012 class, Ridley was expected to make a major splash inside for the Horns last season but put together a rather disappointing freshman campaign. Conditioning has been a concern for the big fellow but he needs to be a more dominating force in the paint if Texas any hopes of sniffing a NCAA Tournament berth.
Key Non-Conference Games:
11/25 vs. BYU (CBE Classic)
11/26 vs. Wichita State/DePaul (CBE Classic)
12/2 vs. Vanderbilt (Big 12/SEC Challenge)
12/7 at Temple
12/18 at North Carolina
12/21 vs. Michigan State
OTHER 111 IN 111’S:
#84 Washington State
#86 Oregon State
#87 Louisiana Tech
#89 Wake Forest
#90 Central Florida
#95 Seton Hall
#97 George Mason
#99 Penn State
#101 West Virginia
#102 South Florida
#103 Mississippi State
#105 South Carolina
#106 Texas Tech
#108 Virginia Tech
David Kay is a senior feature NBA Draft, NBA, and college basketball writer for the Sports Bank. He also heads up the NBA and college basketball material at Walter Football.com and is a former contributor at The Washington Times Communities. David has appeared on numerous national radio programs spanning from Cleveland to New Orleans to Honolulu to Milwaukee. He also had the most accurate 2011 NBA Mock Draft and the most accurate 2012 NBA Mock Draft on the internet , AND the second most accurate 2013 NBA Mock Draft. (Yup, nearly 3peat champ… #humblebrag.)
You can follow him on Twitter at David_Kmiecik.Powered by Sidelines Follow paulmbanks