As the football season begins to end and the leaves start to change throughout most of the country, it’s time to welcome back college basketball. The 2011-2012 Texas Longhorns’ men’s basketball season season had some ups and downs, ending with a second round knockout by the Cincinnati Bearcats. Now with some new faces leading the way for the Texas Longhorns, what can the fans expect from this season?
Will Myck Kabongo play?
This is the biggest headline going into the season for the Texas Longhorns. The Yahoo! Sports story came out in Early October about Myck Kabongo’s relationship with Rich Paul, an NBA agent who represents Lebron James among other NBA players. The situation is that Myck went up to Cleveland this past summer to work out with New York professional trainer Jerry Powell. Now Paul tells Yahoo! Sports that he wasn’t at the workout and former Longhorn and current Cleveland Cavaliers Tristan Thompson says he paid for the trip but was reimbursed by the Kabongo family.
My take: This shouldn’t be much of an issue but the NCAA has a way of blowing things out of proportion (see Dez Bryant and Oklahoma State). I expect the Longhorns if they have any indication that the eligiblity would be in question, they will hold out Kabongo but I think this gets resolved before November 9th when Texas opens up the season with Fresno State.
The Longhorns bring in the 11th ranked Basketball recruiting class according to Rivals.com. The two biggest stars are Cameron Ridley and Prince Ibeh. Cameron Ridley was ranked as the 29th best recruit in the 2012 recruiting class. Prince Ibeh was ranked the 55th best recruit in the 2012 recruiting class. Both give Texas something that was sorely missed on last year’s team, 2 true low post players. From practice reports from sources inside the program, both are making an impact and will be starters when the Texas Longhorns open up the basketball season against Fresno State on November 9th. It’s going to be tough for these true freshman to learn the collegiate game at first, but I expect them to hit their stride in conference play.
Sheldon McClellan, the sharpshooter.
It became clear last year that J’Coven Brown was leaving for the NBA draft and right now he is in Greece playing for Rethymno Aegean providing for his two kids. Towards the end of the basketball season, Sheldon McClellan was coming into his own as a consistent scorer for this Longhorns team. He will be the go to option for this year’s team when they need points. the key this year will be to get 2 sharpshooters on this Texas Longhorns basketball team. Will it be Myck Kabongo, Julien Lewis, or true freshmen Javan Felix? It’s going to be another tough year in the Big 12 so the Longhorns are going to have to find more options to should the ball if they want to make any noise in the Big 12.
The Texas Longhorns open up the season against the Fresno State Bulldogs and will play Coppin State before heading to the Maui Invitational. In the Maui Invitational, it’s a very weak field than previous years. The Longhorns will begin the tournament by playing Division II Chaminade University. Then they face the winner of USC and Illinois, two teams that didn’t make the NCAA tournament last year. I expect the Longhorns to go 2-1 in Maui.
Longhorn fans never have to worry about Rick Barnes not scheduling tough opponent in the non-conference season. games against Georgetown, North Carolina, at Michigan State, and UCLA will provide the Longhorns a good measuring stick for conference season.
I expect the Longhorns to go 10-8 in conference play because I think they lose a few home games in conference but win a few road games. I expect the Longhorns to be 10-3 in non-conference play for a final record of 20-11 with a few conference tournament wins to get an at large bid in the NCAA tournament.