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2011-12 College Basketball Season Preview: Texas

Written by Paul Banks of the Washington Times, David Kay and Peter Christian of the The Sports Bank. Send Paul an e-mail here: paulb05 AT hotmail DOT com.
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Texas Longhorns (Last Year: 28-8, 13-3 in Big 12)

2011-12 Projected Depth Chart:

F/C: Alexis Wangneme (Sr)/Clint Chapman (Sr)

F: Jonathan Holmes (Fr)/Jaylen Bond (Fr)

G/F: Shelden McClellan (Fr)

SG: J'Covan Brown (Jr)/Julien Lewis (Fr)

PG: Myck Kabongo (Fr)/Sterling Gibbs (Fr)

Gone: SF-Jordan Hamilton, PF/C-Tristan Thompson, F-Gary Johnson, PG-Dogus Balbay, PG-Jai Lucas, C-Matt Hill, SF-Shawn Williams (transfer-SMU)

2011-12 Outlook:
You would be hard pressed to find a college basketball team that loses more from last season than the Texas Longhorns. All five starters are gone including Jordan Hamltion, Tristan Thompson, and Cory Joseph who each left for the NBA Draft and ended up being first-round picks. Now Rick Barnes faces the challenge of acclimating six freshmen to a thin roster that features only nine scholarship players.

The Longhorns lose 83.2% of their scoring, 87.7% of their rebounding, and 83% of their assists from last season and only bring back two contributors. J'Covan Brown served as the team's sixth man a year ago and provided a scoring punch off the bench averaging 10.4 points per game. He now steps into the starting lineup and will become the leader of this team by default. Brown can stroke it from the outside but has the reputation of being a gunner who takes bad shots.

McDonald's All-American Myck Kabongo will take over at the point and could be a game changer for Texas from day one. He is lightning quick with the basketball plus has a certain maturity and flashiness to his game. Fellow newcomer Sheldon McClellan will likely start on the wing alongside Kabongo and Brown. McClellan is a bigger guard who can get to the basket but also shoot it from deep.

Former Maryland commit Sterling Gibbs re-opened his recruitment after Gary Williams retired. He is a late addition who adds needed depth at the point. A physical off guard, Julien Lewis will also have to factor into the rotation due to a lack of bodies.

The frontcourt is a huge question mark for the Horns. Alexis Wangneme is an undersized, though physical, post player who struggled last season specifically when asked to match up against bigger players. He will have to be a factor inside and stay out of foul trouble if Texas has any hope of not getting dominated in the paint and on the boards. Clint Chapman played sparingly in 2009-2010 and redshirted last season. He is really nothing more than a big body inside but will likely see an increased role off the bench out of necessity.

Freshmen power forwards Jonathan Holmes and Jaylen Bond will compete for the other starting frontcourt spot. Holmes has a solid combination of strength, athleticism, and versatility and might even see some minutes at the five. He could end up being one of the impact freshmen in the Big XII. Bond originally committed to Pittsburgh but backed out of his decision with the intention of spending a year at prep school. Instead, he wound up at Texas and should become an immediate contributor with the Longhorns lacking size and talent inside.

Texas has a chance of being a very good team...but probably not for another year. A top-five recruiting class gives them plenty of talent, but depth, experience, and a lack of size are major concerns for the Longhorns. If they lose any players to injury or suspension this season, things will get really interesting for Barnes.

Player to Watch: Myck Kabongo, PG
Arguably the best point guard in the 2011 class, Kabongo continues the Canada-to-Austin pipeline. From the opening tip of the season, he will become the new face of the Longhorns' program and should be exciting to watch on a nightly basis. Kabongo has a terrific feel for the game and distributes the basketball well beyond his years, which is a huge plus for a freshman floor leader on such a young roster. He will also need to score this season if Texas is to become a true threat in the Big XII.

Key Non-Conference Games:
  • 11/15 vs. Rhode Island
  • 11/19 vs. Oregon State (Legends Classic)
  • 11/21 vs. Vanderbilt/N.C. State (Legends Classic)
  • 12/3 at UCLA
  • 12/17 vs. Temple
  • 12/21 at North Carolina

    Predicted Big XII Finish: 5th

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