The Texas Longhorns‘ very own Rick Barnes was said to be the next out of Austin after last year’s despicable 16-18 record during the 2012-13 campaign. What a difference a new season makes. The Longhorns were projected to be one of the bottom-feeders of the Big 12 Conference this season with a roster that seemed to lack any real talent. Now that the season is finally over, Barnes can look back on a season that proved to be a Texas-sized over-achievement that resulted in the 59-year-old head coach being named the Big 12 Coach of the Year.
After a 79-65 loss to the Michigan Wolverines in the third round of the NCAA Tournament that ended the feel-good story that was Texas basketball this season, the optimism for next season kicked in. Despite any sudden transfers or irrational NBA Draft declarations, Barnes should kick off next season with an experienced and scrappy lineup. The development of big man Cameron Ridley and the emergence of freshman guard Isaiah Taylor this season will show to be the foundation of how good this team can be next season.
But there’s even better news for the Longhorn faithful. To accompany the development of this youthful team that will take place this offseason, recruiting will be the pivotal piece in what could be Texas becoming the team to beat in the Big 12. The addition of incoming freshman Jordan Barnett will provide a huge scoring and athleticism boost the Longhorns desperately needed this season, but Barnett isn’t the crown jewel by any stretch.
Myles Turner is the lone elite recruit left still undecided on where he will take his talents. Turner stands as the second overall prospect in 2014 and for Barnes to land the 7-footer would be a program changer. This is great news for Texas basketball considering the Longhorns seem to be the favorite for Turner heading into the final days before a decision.
Although it’s still possible for Barnes to miss out on the biggest recruit within his grasp since Kevin Durant, the future is still bright for his Longhorns. With a team that loves playing together all returning, Texas will be the team to beat in the Big 12 next season.