The 2012-2013 Texas Longhorns basketball team will be marginally more experienced than its predecessor, but still has a young core that will need to immediately rise to the occasion. As always seems to be the case, the Longhorns will be athletic, raw, and talented, but unpolished.
Over the course of the next week we’ll breakdown each of the positional groupings on this year’s Longhorns squad, give a preview of how the schedule shakes out and also of where Texas should finish the season.
Today, let’s take a look at the the Texas guards.
In spite of the controversy surrounding his appearance at camps sponsored by LeBron James’ agent over the course of the summer, and the eyes of the NCAA being firmly upon him as a result, Texas sophomore guard Myck Kabongo will be expected to rise to the occasion in 2012 and truly lead this Texas team.
For Kabongo to lead, he must control the pace of the offense with efficiency, limit turnovers, and increase his scoring load to make up for the departure of J’Covan Brown, last year’s leading scorer.
On an extremely young team made up of sophomores and freshmen, Kabongo will be looked upon to determine the direction for the Longhorns both offensively and defensively. Can he rise to the occasion?
The second-leading scorer on a 2011 team that required contributions across the roster, sophomore guard Sheldon McClellan will be expected to score the ball with consistency and in bunches this season for Texas to be successful.
At times last season, McClellan showed a really nice package of skills, able to slash and finish at the rim, and also hit the open jumper when it was available.
McClellan will be the resident slasher on this year’s team, and must be aggressive every game and not take plays off for his contributions to continue to improve, and for him to take on a role as a scorer for the Longhorns.
The fourth-leading scorer on the 2011 Longhorns squad, sophomore guard Julien Lewis will likely morph into a catch-and-shoot perimeter gunner on this year’s squad.
Lewis can fill it up in a hurry, and if given open looks with consistency could add some nice scoring punch to a Texas lineup that will need it desperately. Lewis is also the team’s best on-ball defender and will be expected to cover the opposing team’s best scorer when the Longhorns are in man-to-man sets.
Lewis’ inconsistency can be a liability, however, and if he cannot produce game in and game out, his minutes will likely be hoovered up by McClellan and another highly-touted true freshman, DeMarcus Holland.
True freshman combo guard DeMarcus Holland will see playing time at shooting guard more than he will ever run the point given his propensity to score rather than look to generate offense from his teammates.
The skinny, 6’3″, 165 pound Holland will need to hit the weight room to pack on some pounds and take the beating required of Big 12 guards. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Holland redshirted given the depth at guard around him, but this decision has yet to be made.
New Orleans native Javan Felix arrives on the Forty Acres from the same high school program that produced one of the Texas greats at point guard, D.J. Augustin.
The 5’11”, 190 pound guard has great instincts for the game and a natural basketball IQ which has led to comparisons with Augustin. Not afraid to take contact, Felix finishes well in the paint and can be counted on to hit the boards hard on both ends of the floor.
A solid enough shooter who will be looking to expand this part of his game, Felix is enough of a threat offensively to keep defenses honest and plays outstanding and aggressive on-ball defense.
With quick adoption of Texas’ schemes, Felix could quickly challenge Kabongo for playing time should Kabongo not get off to the quick start Texas coaches will expect of him this fall.
The Texas guard corps will determine the pace, both offensively and defensively, this season and their overall success as a unit will determine Texas’ overall success.
In spite of the fact this is a bigger team than in years’ past that will have a greater interior presence, the Longhorns will still work outside-in, and this starts with the guards.
Kris Hughes is the College Football Network Manager for Rant Sports and a member of the Football Writers Association of America.
Kris is also the host of the Rant Sports College Football Hour on the TSC Radio Network on Sunday evenings at 8 Central Time and Rant Sports Radio on the Blog Talk Radio Network Wednesday evenings at 8 Central Time.