- SXSW 2014
It's been a long time since Kevin Durant played for a successful Texas Longhorns basketball team.
The Texas basketball program is no longer a powerhouse in the Big 12, but rather one of the weakest programs.
On September 15th, the Texas basketball team hosted tryouts for walk-ons. The program has been on the decline the past few years, and this upcoming season may be its worst yet.
Last season, the Horns finished seventh in the Big XII, with a record below .500 for the first time during coach Rick Barnes’ 15-year tenure. It was also the first time under Barnes that the team didn’t make an NCAA tournament appearance.
Instead, Texas played in the College Basketball Invitational, a tournament one step below the NIT. The Longhorns were ousted in the first round by a much weaker University of Houston team. It was a gloomy ending to an embarrassing season.
If you thought last season was bad, don’t get your hopes up this year. The Horns may have struggled mightily last season, but now the roster is depleted. Texas lost five quality players during the offseason to transfers and professional leagues.
Myck Kabongo, the former star guard and best player on the team, was suspended for 23 games last season for receiving improper benefits. Instead of sticking around with the potential of the NCAA finding more dirt, Kabongo took his talents to the NBA. He went undrafted, but he signed on as a free agent with the San Antonio Spurs.
Kabongo was the Horns’ leading scorer last season. Behind him, guard Sheldon McClellan averaged the second most points per game. McClellan has decided to transfer to the University of Miami, which means he must sit out the entire 2013-14 season.
Julien Lewis, the third leading scorer, will also miss next season due to his transfer to Fresno State. At Fresno, Lewis will play for former UT assistant coach Rodney Terry. The fourth leading scorer, Ioannis Papaetrou, has decided to sign on with a professional team in Greece, officially ending his career as a Longhorn after only one season. Forward Jaylen Bond has transferred as well, choosing to play for the Temple Owls.
With all of these losses, the Longhorns won’t have anyone left to play next season. They lost their top four scorers, which definitely won't help their offensive woes from last year. The Horns averaged 65.4 points per contest last season, good for 227th in the country.
These departures are a recipe for disaster.
Barnes has been a great coach and one of the best recruiters in the country the past decade and a half. He has led the team to five Sweet Sixteen appearances, three Elite Eights and one Final Four. He has brought in all-time Longhorn greats like Kevin Durant and T.J. Ford. However, as the saying goes, all good things must come to an end.
It’s been five years since the team has made it out of the second round of the tournament. Barnes is no longer getting the results that a university like Texas demands. Texas has one of the richest sports programs in the entire nation, and the school and the fans have high expectations.
The football team let go of its defensive coordinator Manny Diaz earlier this season. Diaz’s defense relinquished 550 yards to an underwhelming BYU offense. He was not getting the job done, and the school had him replaced.
Athletic Director DeLoss Dodds has announced his retirement effective next year due to this rough patch in the athletic program. Times may be changing here at UT, and Barnes could be on his way out next.
This season for Texas basketball could very well be the last one of the Rick Barnes era. Barnes’ future and the fate of the program remain uncertain, but one thing is for sure: the walk-on tryouts will not uncover the next Durant. The program has dug itself into a huge hole that may be too deep for Barnes to escape.