Backcourt problem dogging Texas
The Texas Longhorns have a bit of a backcourt problem.
The Longhorns lost last season’s leading scorer, J’Covan Brown,
when the enigmatic shooting guard decided to bolt for the NBA. That
was something coach Rick Barnes could plan for.
Now Texas also finds sophomore starting point guard Myck
(pronounced Mike) Kabongo under investigation by the NCAA, which
has raised questions about his relationship with Rich Paul, the
agent of Miami Heat star LeBron James.
That came as a bit of a surprise.
The season starts Nov. 9 against Fresno State. While Kabongo
hasn’t been declared ineligible and is still allowed to practice
with the team, the Longhorns must brace for the possibility that he
might miss some games – or the season.
School officials have confirmed that Kabongo, who averaged 9.6
points and had a team-high 176 assists last season, has talked with
NCAA investigators. The Longhorns have also taken the precaution of
keeping him out of preseason scrimmages against Davidson and
”It’s all in the hands of the NCAA right now. I’m hoping like
we all are,” Barnes said. ”Myck’s worked really hard as a leader
and brings a lot of energy every day. We’ll just wait and
Kabongo, a preseason all-Big 12 selection, could be the key to
the season for a team that must get a lot from of its freshmen and
sophomores if it expects to make a trip to its 15th consecutive
NCAA tournament. Texas hasn’t played beyond the first weekend of
the tournament since losing in the regional final in 2008.
Kabongo can be electric with his speed, but also ran into foul
trouble a lot last season and spent valuable minutes on the bench.
If he is ruled ineligible, that could thrust freshman Javan Felix
into the starter’s role. He’s a top recruit from New Orleans, but
Barnes would like to have some experience at the point.
”It was kind of surprising,” Felix said of the Kabongo
investigation. ”(But) it’s not like I’m not prepared.”
Even with the uncertainty surrounding Kabongo, Barnes still
knows a little more about his team at this point than he did a year
ago when he was replacing all five starters. To be successful,
Barnes said the Longhorns need more consistent scoring throughout
the lineup this season.
”We relied on J’Covan so much because we just couldn’t seem to
find that second or third consistent scorer with our group last
year,” Barnes said.
Sophomore Sheldon McClellan could provide some of the scoring
punch they need. McClellan helped push Texas to a crucial late win
over Oklahoma that assured the Longhorns would finish above .500 in
the Big 12. McClellan, who averaged 11.3 points last season, is the
only player returning at Texas who averaged in double figures last
”He has a knack for putting the ball in the basket. I think a
challenge for him will be that he’s got to be able to do it day-in,
and day-out,” Barnes said. ”He just needs to want to shoot the
ball when he’s open as opposed to trying to maybe mess with it a
little bit too much dribbling or looking to overpass it.”
As usual, Barnes has crafted a tough nonconference schedule to
help prepare his team for the rigors of the Big 12 and the
postseason. The Big 12 is league where muscular forwards and guards
pound on opponents every night and freshmen like Felix usually take
a while to get used to the physical play.
The Longhorns will play in the Maui Invitational during
Thanksgiving week, and will face Georgetown, North Carolina and
Michigan State before Big 12 play starts against Baylor on Jan.