To say that this is the worst year for the Texas Longhorns men’s basketball program since head-coach Rick Barnes stepped foot on the Forty Acres 15 years ago would be a massive understatement. For the first time in his tenure with the Longhorns, Barnes failed to take his team to the NCAA tournament, and instead suffered a humiliating first-round loss in the College Basketball Invitational. What’s worse for the program is the fact that, since the season’s end, four key players from the the team who were expected to be big contributors next season, have elected to leave the program.
Thought it has been expected for quite some time, sophomore guard Julien Lewis announced today that he will join Myck Kabongo, Sheldon McClellan, and Jaylen Bond in their decisions to part ways with Longhorns. While Kabongo is making the probably-too-early jump to the NBA, Lewis, McClellan, and Bond have all chose to transfer to other schools.
Lewis averaged 11.3 points and 3.3 rebounds per game this season and many felt he would play a key role next year as the team looks to rebound.
Most Texas fans will tell you that they’ve officially hit rock bottom, considering there isn’t a lot to look forward to next season and expectations will be lower than they’ve been in nearly 20 years.
That said, those who tend to take a glass half-full approach to life may consider it a good thing to start fresh considering that this is a group of young players who were responsible for the worst season almost two decades.
So why are so many players choosing to leave the program? Is it the players themselves? Is it Rick Barnes? Clearly there is a big problem. What isn’t clear is who’s at fault.
Regardless, we will find out next season as Barnes finds himself rebuilding the program once again. Here’s hoping that the remaining players will be able to step up and fix what’s so clearly broken, but no doubt, that appears to be quite a daunting task.