Texas point guard Myck Kabongo will miss the Longhorns’ season opener against Fresno State while the NCAA investigates his relationship with an agent.
The school’s announcement Thursday did not project Kabongo’s status beyond Friday night. Texas plays again Monday night. The decision to withhold the sophomore from the opener was a university decision. Neither the NCAA nor the school has ruled on Kabongo’s eligibility.
”Until we hear from (the NCAA) we’ll continue to keep him out of games,” coach Rick Barnes said. ”One thing we would never do is do something that would jeopardize the team because if you play a guy who is later ruled ineligible, they take away those games.”
Barnes also said forward Jaylen Bond, Texas’ top rebounder, also won’t play against Fresno State after injuring his right ankle in practice this week.
”Jaylen’s our best rebounder and we’ll need someone, or a group, to take care of that,” Barnes said
The NCAA has raised questions about Kabongo’s relationship with Rich Paul, the agent of LeBron James of the Miami Heat. Yahoo! Sports has reported that the NCAA is investigating whether Paul was involved in a trip Kabongo took to Cleveland last spring. The trip included at least one workout with professional trainer Jerry Powell, and the NCAA has questioned who paid for the trip and the workout.
Kabongo started 34 games for Texas last season. He was third on the team in scoring at 9.6 points per game and led the Longhorns by averaging 5.2 assists. He has been projected as a possible first-round draft pick in 2013. He could be declared ineligible for at least part of the season if the NCAA determines he received improper benefits from an agent.
With two starters lost for the opener, Barnes would not project his lineup for Friday night. Kabongo’s absence likely means freshman Javan Felix will start at point guard.
”We’ve got nine guys we’ve recruited and all nine of them want to play,” Barnes said.