Throughout the entirety of the rigorous recruitment for the nation’s No. 2 overall prospect, Myles Turner, the Texas Longhorns have been one of the few true favorites from the jump. As the lone major undecided recruit left, it has seemingly become a three-horse race between Texas, Kansas and the dark horse SMU. But for Longhorns head coach Rick Barnes, this is a recruit he can simply not miss out on.
Over the past few seasons, Barnes has missed out on countless elite in-state recruits, including last year’s recruitment of Julius Randle, who had Texas in his consideration until his final commitment to Kentucky. Of course Barnes proved to us this year he doesn’t need the top talent to compete, as he won Big 12 Coach of the Year honors with a mediocre team to say the least from a talent standpoint.
But only a year after Barnes found himself on the hot seat in Austin after the program complied a horrid 16-18 record during his 2012-13 campaign, he has again raised the basketball standard and will be expected to eclipse that yet again with his entire team returning next season, including freshman standout Isaiah Taylor and sophomore big man Cameron Ridley. The perfect remedy and basketball savior Barnes is searching for in order to become an elite program once again is the aforementioned Turner.
The last time Barnes found himself heavily recruiting a No. 2 overall player, NBA superstar Kevin Durant proudly wore the name “Texas” across the front of his jersey. It’s starting to look like it can be a storybook ending for Barnes and Turner alike with the 7-footer being a lifelong Texas and Durant fan. Factor in Turner’s parent wanting the high school phenom to stay relatively close to home and you have all the ingredients of Barnes once again landing a program changer in Austin.
But outside of the recruitment process itself, Turner to Texas makes sense for both parties. For the Longhorns, after overcoming their underdog role and finishing the season with a 24-11 record after a heartbreaking loss to Michigan in the third round of the NCAA Tournament, Texas is projected to be a top-15 team next season and the only missing piece is a star player. The Horns have the perfect combination of youth and experience with their stud point guard Taylor leading the way. With the development that will take place within this feisty and competitive team during the offseason, adding Turner to the mix would give Texas a very realistic chance of cutting down the nets next season.
For Turner, the benefits of becoming a Longhorn are numerous. As I previously mentioned, Turner grew up as a Texas and Durant fan. Although this seems minuscule, this would reap serious benefits for the big man. Anybody who has followed Turner’s game knows he is the farthest thing from a traditional post-player, as he likes to stretch the floor and shoot from outside, which he does exceptionally well. Durant finds himself back around the Texas program every offseason to work with the current players, and allowing Turner to develop and be mentored by the former Longhorns star would help him become the scoring juggernaut many believe he can be. On top of being under Durant’s guidance and being the focal point of the team, Turner will have a great “team-oriented” supporting cast around him. Whether it’s Kansas, Duke, SMU or wherever else Turner may land, he will have to share the spotlight with numerous other All-Americans. At Texas, Barnes has instilled a gritty, competitive and winning mentality within a team that would be a great supporting cast for Turner’s star capability.
It makes sense for both sides in various aspects, but the agony of waiting for the commitment by Turner continues. He has announced that he will make his decision Apr. 30,which gives Barnes two more weeks to sell the benefits of the burnt orange to the Dallas native. But if my prediction plays out to be true, Texas will have the star they are searching for in the 7-foot Turner to kick next season off.