2012 Texas Longhorns Basketball Preview: Part Two- Forwards
2012 Texas Longhorns Basketball Preview: Part Two- Forwards
In the second of a five-part series, we're here to take a look at the front-line for the 2012-2013 version of the Texas Longhorns basketball team. If Rick Barnes and his staff did anything during the last few recruiting cycles, it was focus on beefing up the blocks and adding some presence down low on both ends of the floor. With a few returners and several newcomers, it's a mixed group of guys with a diverse set of skills that each bring something unique to the table.
Some of these guys are more traditional bangers, while others are of the new-school combo forward type that can shoot and grind down low, while others are more finesse and will play as much on the perimeter as on the blocks.
Each of these guys are underclassmen and have limited experience so the unit as a whole will grow together and the minutes they will share will be a constant work in progress. Who will rise to the top and prove they have what it takes to make Texas an inside force once again?
Philadelphia native Jaylen Bond is the most traditional presence of the Texas forwards-- of the upperclassmen, anyway-- and will expected to use his athleticism and willingness to absorb contact to be a force on the blocks this season.
Although he played the least minutes per game of the five returning sophomores in 2011 (15.4), Bond has reportedly worked hard on his conditioning and should be able to take on a much greater role not only in terms of minutes played, but expected production this fall.
While he will likely be fighting for playing time with Prince Ibeh, Bond's experience could have him in the game when it matters most. He inevitably brings a new energy to the court when he comes off the bench, and this energy will be needed for Texas throughout the 2012-2013 campaign.
Sophomore forward Jonathan Holmes is the team's leading returning scorer among the big guys, and has a nice combo game that just needs some polishing and consistency to allow him to become a greater dual-threat.
At moments last season, you could see what the coaching staff saw in Holmes a few years ago when he was one of the most highly-touted players in the state of Texas. The 6'7", 240 pound Holmes is versatile enough to play as a big guard as well if necessary, but has a tendency to try to force his shot and drives to the basket when they aren't available.
Assuming Holmes has fine-tuned this part of his game in the off-season, it's reasonable to expect more production from him on the offensive end. His defense has never been at question.
The 6'10", 225 pound Prince Ibeh is an impressive athlete who will need to grow into his sturdy frame, and quickly, to see much playing time for Texas in 2012.
There's no doubting his athletic ability and raw talent, but his offensive game still has a long way to go for him to contribute much on that side of the ball.
Where Ibeh could quickly impact games for the Longhorns is on defense. His natural shot-blocking instinct is as good as anyone on the Forty Acres since James Thomas, and could be a nice addition to a Texas front-line that has needed an intimidating presence down low desperately.
The crown jewel of the 2012 Texas recruiting class, and arguably one of the top big guys in the 2012 recruiting class as a whole, Richmond Bush's Cameron Ridley will be expected to play big minutes for Rick Barnes' squad this season-- from the get go.
At a whopping 6'9" and 270 pounds, Ridley will remind plenty of a young Dexter Pittman with his ability to back people down on the blocks and finish with authority. If Texas was searching for a traditional, back-to-the-basket center, they've found one in Ridley.
If there's a knock on Big Cam it's his lack of foot speed and lateral quickness. Obviously, Texas has been down this road before with guys like Pittman, and it's reasonable to assume Ridley will develop these traits in game action, which he will be seeing plenty of , as he should be in the starting five on Day One.
Probably the biggest unknown of the young Texas forwards, Greek-born and Florida-educated big man Ioannis Papapetrou is a part of the new "shooting forward" hybrid that has become so popular over the last few years in the recruiting world.
At 6'8", 220, Papapetrou has a feathery smooth outside touch and a sturdy frame for an eighteen year old that will only get stronger once he starts on the Texas strength and conditioning program. Scouts have praised his basketball IQ and overall feel for the game and have noted that all which was standing in the way of him being consistent was learning the "American" game, of which he now appears to have a firm grasp.
Expect to see Ioannis floating around the perimeter as much as he is on the blocks, if not more so.
At first glance, San Antonio native Connor Lammert appears to be cut out of a very similar mold to former hybrid Texas big guys including Jason Klotz and Connor Atchley.
At 6'9", 225, Lammert will be sure to pack on some pounds in working with Todd Wright and could become a very tough match-up over the course of time for opposing coaches given his already nifty moves around the basket and ability to consistently knock down mid-to-long range jumpers.
As a lefty, Lammert has a natural advantage which shines in his passing ability which is first-tier for a big guy and will provide him with an edge as time goes on. Given he is the most physically under-developed of the Texas big guys, it wouldn't be surprising to see Rick Barnes issue him a red-shirt to focus on strength for a season.
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