Texas Longhorns: Myck Kabongo to Return But Should He Be in the Starting Lineup?

By Marian Hinton
Denny Medley: USA TODAY Sports

On Wednesday night, the Texas Longhorns will host the Iowa State Cyclones and for the first time all season,  Myck Kabongo will take the floor for the Horns.

The sophomore point guard returns after being handed a 23-game suspension by the NCAA for accepting illegal benefits, which included airfare and a personal training session. Making matters worse, Myck initially mislead NCAA officials, causing them to hand down a year-long suspension. Texas won the appeal, Myck’s suspension was shortened, and he was required to repay the $476 to charity.

Head coach Rick Barnes has stated that Myck will be in the starting lineup tomorrow, but is that really fair to the rest of the team?

To say that this has been a rough season for Texas would be a drastic understatement, and there is absolutely no doubt that the team missed their floor general. One would think that Kabongo’s presence on the court all season long would have made a big difference, considering many of Texas’ losses were in close games in which they led in the final minutes only to blow it in the end.

Freshman Javan Felix was forced to start all year in Kabongo’s place, and though Kabongo is certainly the better player at this point, Felix held his own all year. He wasn’t outstanding, but he’s been one of the few bright spots this season.

The Longhorns’ season is essentially all but over. Their only chance to make the NCAA tournament is to either go undefeated from here on out (which would be highly unlikely and even then they’d just be on the bubble if they were lucky) or to make a run and win their first Big 12 tournament title.

Does Myck’s presence automatically make them better? There’s no doubt about it, but is it too little too late? Should he be given the starting position over Felix, who has shouldered the load all season long thanks to Kabongo’s poor judgement?

Add to that  the fact that most people will tell you that this is very likely Myck’s last year in Austin before making the jump to the NBA. If that’s the case, perhaps it would be better for the team to keep the lineup the way it’s been all season, let the team continue to gel and grow together, and use Kabongo to come in and relieve Felix, who has logged more minutes than anyone else in the Big 12.

Kabongo should certainly play. A lot. Probably even more than Felix. He may be just what the Longhorns need to make a late run and he is really the only hope they have of winning the conference tournament.

That said, Barnes should stick with Felix as the starter and let Myck come off the bench. It’s still an honor to be in the starting lineup, whether you log more minutes than the back-up or not, and this season, it’s Felix who’s earned the right to be on the floor at tip-off.

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