For whatever reason, not many people have been talking about Texas Longhorns incoming freshman Jordan Barnett, the nation’s 86th overall recruit according to ESPN. This is presumably due to all the glorification the high school McDonald’s All-Americans receive, but they aren’t necessarily the only ones who can change a program, as seen with Isaiah Taylor after his freshman season performance.
As the lone recruit Rick Barnes has reeled in for next season who will have a sure impact, Barnett brings a skill set that is reflective of Barnes’ style of competing on every play along with a tough inside game. He’s unique in his explosive play style and slashing ability despite being 6-foot-8, which the Longhorns lacked last season.
In his final year in high school en route to a state championship, Barnett averaged 19.6 points and 9.3 rebounds per game with his rebounding ability likely being the reason he caught Barnes’ eye.
As for what role Barnett will come in and fill as a freshman, the progression he displays over the offseason as well as what is happening with Jonathan Holmes and potentially, Myles Turner, will ultimately shape the roles Holmes and Barnett will fill. If Turner were to commit, Holmes would be forced to become more of a wingman and slasher in order to match the court-time he received as a junior.
With Barnett being a seemingly more skilled and athletic version of Holmes, he will definitely give Holmes a run for his money as to who shoulders the starting small forward job. Of course he has the experience and leadership advantage as a key senior on the team, but it will be hard for Barnes to keep a talent like Barnett off the floor for long. But I believe will we see Barnes switch rotations and see who fills that wing position better as the non-conference schedule is in its early stages.
So what will Barnett bring to the Horns next season? Well, much of the same of what Barnes emphasized for his team last season. A smooth mid-range jumper, aggressive rebounding, toughness in the paint and explosiveness with the ball will all come by way of the 6-foot-8 forward. This tapers to the system Barnes instills in Austin, and his size adds that much more congestion to what is already the prime frontcourt in the Big 12.
As for his weaknesses, Barnett isn’t much of an assist man and hasn’t thrived on the defensive end of the court. Stifling defense and unselfishness offense are both staples for Texas, and some improvement in these areas is vital to Jordan’s chances of seeing the court frequently. But again, Barnett is too much of a talent to be kept off the floor, and Texas can expect him to add even more depth to an experienced roster returning every asset.