• Longhorns PG Myck Kabongo issues statement, says he's ready to move on from suspension and play Wednesday

    Texas point guard Myck Kabongo, who averaged 9.6 points and 5.2 assists per game as a freshman in 2011, is coming back for his sophmore season.
    Texas point guard Myck Kabongo, who averaged 9.6 points and 5.2 assists per game as a freshman in 2011, is coming back for his sophmore season.

    Texas Longhorns point guard Myck Kabongo, who has completed his NCAA-mandated 23-game suspension for receiving impermissible benefits last summer (a $475 plane ticket for a workout in Cleveland), released a statement Monday saying he was ready to play Wednesday against Iowa State and that he was sorry for misleading NCAA and UT officials. Kabongo's ban for receiving an impermissible benefit would have been the standard 10 games, but because he provided incorrect information during the investigation process, the NCAA banned Kabongo for the entire season on Dec. 19. The Longhorns, however, submitted an appeal shortly thereafter and won, cutting his suspension to 23 games.

    “I am ready to start playing with my team again and putting behind me the last several months," Kabongo said in the statement. "When I went to Cleveland last summer, I did not intend to break any rules and did not believe I had broken any. I should have been upfront with UT about everything the first time I had a chance, but I’m glad that I corrected my mistake and I’m glad that I was truthful with the NCAA.  

    I have learned a lot about myself and what is important to me through this process. I have a great team, and they have supported me all year. I believe I am a better teammate and am looking forward to finishing the season with my team.  I want to thank my teammates and my coaches for sticking by and supporting me all year.”

  • The Top 5 forwards/centers in the Big 12: KU's Jeff Withey leads a deep group of big men

    With eight of the top-10 scorers in the Big 12 so far in the 2012-2013 season being guards, to say that guards have dominated would be an understatement. Despite this, the following big men have made tremendous contributions to their teams through the first half of conference play.

    1. Jeff Withey, C, Kansas - Withey has followed up his record-setting NCAA tournament (31 blocks in the last year's tournament, breaking Joakim Noah’s mark of 29 in 2006), with a strong senior year in which he has averaged four blocks a game. With Thomas Robinson foregoing his senior season, Withey has been the go-to guy down low for the Jayhawks. Withey played solid in Kansas’ shocking loss to TCU on Wednesday night, with 12 points and eight rebounds which is just around his season averages. He is currently a projected first-round pick and should be consensus all Big 12.

    2. Isaiah Austin, C, Baylor - Austin was the third-ranked recruit coming out of high school, according to ESPN, and is playing the part. Through ten games, he leads the Big 12 in rebounds a game grabbing 10.9 per contest, up from his 9.7 overall. Austin ranks eighth in the Big 12 in scoring (14) in Big 12 contests, and is tied with Melvin Ejim of Iowa State for the Big 12’s lead in double-doubles (nine). He is a projected top-10 pick in this summer’s draft, assuming he forgoes his remaining eligibility.

    3. Romero Osby, F, Oklahoma - Osby’s play has been a big factor in Oklahoma’s midpoint turnaround of five Big 12 victories, after averaging only 4.7 wins in conference play the previous three years. Osby is scoring at a rate of 13.9 points per game, good for the most on the Sooners including a career-high 29 points against Texas. He is shooting 50.8 percent from the field for the year, and leads OU in rebounds with nearly seven boards a game for the season. Osby’s play in the second half of the season will be key for the Sooners if they are to make the NCAA tournament for the first time in the post-Blake Griffin era.

    4. Cory Jefferson, F, Baylor - Though he does not get the attention of his counterpart, Austin, Jefferson has put together a solid season for the Bears and has shown massive improvement from his first two seasons in Waco. Jefferson has been a crucial piece of the Bears’ attack thus far, averaging 12.7 points and 8.4 boards a game for the season. He scored 18 points and grabbed 11 boards in Baylor’s 69-67 loss to Oklahoma State in
    overtime Wednesday.

    5. Melvin Ejim, F, Iowa State – Ejim is averaging almost a double-double a game for the Cyclones with 10.3 points and 9.4 boards per contest, and is tied with Baylor’s Austin for the lead in the double-double category at nine. For the year, Ejim’s rebounding total is the second best in the Big 12, despite being only 6-foot-6.

    Honorable mentions: Jonathan Holmes, F, Texas; Aaric Murray, C, West Virginia

  • Dallas Carter linebacker Cameron Hampton commits to Texas at its first Junior Day

    Cameron Hampton gave the Longhorns their eighth verbal commitment of the 2014 class. 
    Cameron Hampton gave the Longhorns their eighth verbal commitment of the 2014 class. 

    Texas snagged its eight commitment on Sunday when Dallas Carter outside linebacker Cameron Hampton verbally committed to the Longhorns.

    Hampton committed at the first of two Junior Days the Longhorns will hold this month. He joins San Antonio Brennan defensive end Derick Roberson as the only two defensive commitments of the class thus far.

    The 6-foot-2, 205-pound Hampton will likely remain at outside linebacker in college. In addition to Texas, Hampton received scholarship offers from Louisiana State, Texas A&M, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Ohio State, and others.

    Hampton’s commitment injects a much-needed boost of momentum to Texas recruiting. The eight commitments in the 2014 class represent a drastic improvement over 2013. This time last year, Celina athlete Jake Raulerson was Texas’ lone commitment.

    Though Hampton was the only player to commit to Texas at Junior Day, he was joined in Austin by a number of top Texas targets.

    Uncommitted prospects who had already received a scholarship offer included Ozen cornerback Tony Brown, Mansfield safety Ed Paris, and Galena North Shore linebacker Zach Whitley. All three are listed among the top 250 prospects for the 2014 class by rivals.com.

    Houston Lamar defensive back John Bonney also attended, and received a scholarship offer early in the day. Bonney told orangebloods.com that he will visit Ohio State, Northwestern, Auburn, and UCLA before making his decision.

    Texas will hold its second Junior Day on Saturday, February 23. Unconfirmed prospects expected to attend include Mount Pleasant wide receiver KD Cannon, Cypress Falls offensive tackle Otaro Alaka, and Arlington Bowie safety Edwin Freeman.

  • Papi says sorry after Longhorns' embarrassing loss

    Frustration, disappointment and embarrassment.

    These were all sentiments echoed by Texas players and coaches following the eighth conference loss of the season for the Longhorns.

    Ioannis Papapetrou hit the nail on the head when he talked about his teammate’s effort during their 72-59 loss to Oklahoma State on Saturday afternoon.

    “Guys don’t want to buy in to what we want to do out there,” Papapetrou said. “We didn’t show up.”

    Throwing an entire team under the bus is a bold move for a freshman, but it’s something that could be beneficial to a growing team. Rick Barnes doesn’t seem to be holding his team accountable, so it has to come from the players. If the Longhorns won’t buy in to what Barnes has to say, maybe a teammate can get them moving in the right direction.

    Even Oklahoma State head coach Travis Ford seemed to feel a bit of sympathy for Texas following the game.

    “Texas is in a very similar situation as we were last year,” Scott said. “A very young team that we respect a lot, but has struggled quite a bit.”

    Papi even went so far as to apologize to Texas fans on more than one occasion during a postgame press conference.

    “I feel bad for fans that paid to see that,” Papapetrou said. “I want to apologize for the effort we showed today.”

    Papapetrou’s confidence has grown as he has spent more time on the court and he played one of his most complete games to date against the Cowboys. Not only did he lead Texas in scoring with 15 points, but his seven rebounds were also a team-high. His four assists and four steals helped Texas in transition, but like many times this season there was little production from the rest of the team.

    “We do play hard, but not for the whole game,” Papapetrou said.

    Most notably, the Longhorns’ leading scorer Sheldon McClellan was virtually absent the entire game and finished well short of his 14.8 point per game average. A couple of weeks ago Barnes touched on wanting to see more “bite” from McClellan late in games, but McClellan lacked any sort of urgency.

    When Barnes was asked about McClellan’s performance he had very little insight to offer and his answer spoke volumes about where this team stands from a chemistry standpoint.

    “You’ll have to ask [Sheldon] about that,” Barnes said. “I don’t know what’s wrong. He has to score and we’re not asking him to guard anybody. He should want to be the best at running the lane and he’s not consistent in that regard.”

    The elephant that has been on the bench for 23 games, Myck Kabongo will return to the starting lineup in the Longhorns’ next game against Iowa State on Wednesday. There are rumblings of a Jonathan Holmes return as well, although Barnes declined to say whether Holmes was ready to play.

    “We haven’t had our whole team playing together the whole season,” Barnes said. “It feels like a broken record, but we will see how things go once we have everyone back. There will be a different team on the floor on Wednesday.”

  • Texas prepares for last game before Myck Kabongo's return as Oklahoma State visits the Erwin Center

    As a freshman, Myck Kabongo averaged 9.6 points and 5.2 rebounds per game. The NCAA is probing Kabongo’s eligibility with agent Rich Paul as well as his eligibility. Kabongo has not been declared ineligible. 
    As a freshman, Myck Kabongo averaged 9.6 points and 5.2 rebounds per game. The NCAA is probing Kabongo’s eligibility with agent Rich Paul as well as his eligibility. Kabongo has not been declared ineligible. 

    Myck Kabongo's comeback is near.

    And with all the talk surrounding the suspended point guard's return next Wednesday against Iowa State, you'd think the Longhorns had forgotten about tomorrow's crucial matchup against Oklahoma State, who bring a 16-5 record to the Erwin Center, having won five out of its last six.

    "We're taking it one game at a time," guard Julien Lewis said Friday. "Javan [Felix]'s our point guard right now and we'll be ready for Myck next week when he steps in."

    Head coach Rick Barnes spoke about the possibility of playing both of the point-guards when Kabongo returns, emphasizing that Javan Felix could become more of a defensive force with Kabongo taking control of the offense. According to Julien Lewis, both guards haven't had much playing time together, as Felix plays with the starters and Kabongo runs the practice squad. Lewis thinks they can play together, though, saying it "would be fun to see." For Felix, Kabongo's return will naturally affect the role he has with the team, but he was adamant that the thought of Kabongo coming back wasn't taking away from his preparation for tomorrow's game, and whatever role Barnes has in store for him he would embrace

    "As long as we win, I'll be alright," Felix said.

    As for Oklahoma State, both the players and coach Barnes said that Texas' recent success against this team wont be a factor, even as both teams are going in different directions.

    "I don't think our guys think about the past too much, they stay present," Barnes said, "It's not going to be on their minds."

    Felix echoed Barnes, saying it hasn't affected their preparation at all. Much of the talk of the Cowboys centered around the freshman combo of Marcus Smart and Phil Forte, who Felix called "good players" — Forte being a "knock-down shooter" while Smart "makes everything go." Lewis agreed, but cautioned that Smart is prone to charging, and that would be something to focus on while on the defensive end.

    "All of these games are must-win now," Barnes said.

    Even though a "new season," according to Lewis, starts next week when Kabongo is back in the starting lineup, it may not make much of a difference in the long run if Texas doesn't win tomorrow and keep its slim chances of an NCAA tournament berth alive for at least another week.