Barnes boosts strong recruiting board

Longhorns basketball Coach Rick Barnes made waves last year when he landed five-star recruit from the Class of 2014, Myles Turner. Turner, the seven-foot center from Trinity High School in Bedford chose the Longhorns over Ohio State, Kansas, Duke, Arizona, and Kentucky. Considering the lengthy historical success of the aforementioned programs -- as well as their standing as traditional college basketball powers -- many viewed the commitment of Turner to Texas to be a surprise.

Barnes continued his strong recruiting efforts this year, as thus far he has snagged four-star guards Eric Davis and Kerwin Roach from the Class of 2015 and looks to bring fellow guard Admon Gilder to the Longhorns program as well. 

While the recruitments of Turner and Davis were to some unexpected, when looking at Barnes’ recruiting track record, they are from an anomaly. Barnes holds one of the more impressive resumes in all of college basketball when it comes to producing pro prospects, and in his time at Texas, Barnes has amassed an astounding list of players that have come through the Longhorn program to make it to the NBA.

The 2014-2015 season will be Barnes’ 17th season with the Longhorns, and in that time Barnes has had 17 players drafted into the NBA. There are ten Longhorns currently active on NBA rosters, the eighth highest of any program in the country, and second in the Big 12, trailing only Kansas.  

Most notable of the NBA players to come out of Texas is Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant. This upcoming season will be Durant’s eighth year in the league, and in that time Thunder star won one MVP award for his play during the 2013-2014 season, and has already won the scoring title four times, trailing only Hall of Famers Wilt Chamberlain and Michael Jordan.  

During Barnes’ tenure as the Longhorns head coach, he has produced players with a laundry list of accomplishments. Among the players to come through the Longhorns program under Barnes are nine first-round draft picks, five top-ten picks, two NBA champions in Dexter Pittman and Cory Joseph, two NBA All-Stars in Kevin Durant and LaMarcus Aldridge and one NBA MVP in Kevin Durant. 

As a recruiter, Barnes plays to his strengths. While the Texas program may not have as much history as Kansas or as much NCAA tournament success as Duke, it has proved time and again that it is capable of producing quality NBA talent. If Barnes is able to continue his run of getting players to the NBA, the recruits will keep coming, and the Longhorns program will remain a collegiate basketball power. 

Myles Turner, a five-star recruit in the class of 2014, committed to Texas on Wednesday in front of a national audience.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

Basketball fans dream about walking through the tunnels at Allen Fieldhouse or hitting a buzzer-beater against North Carolina at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

But not many imagine hitting a game-winning shot at the Frank Erwin Center.

So why would Myles Turner, the lone uncommitted five-star recruit in the 2014 class, choose to attend Texas?

The 6-foot-10 high school senior, who attends Trinity High School, could potentially transform whatever school he chooses to attend into a legitimate championship contender. He can knock down jumpers, dominate inside and protect the rim.

Seven schools are still chasing him: Duke, Kansas, SMU, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M, Ohio State and Texas.

Some reports have Turner leaning toward Texas — he even tweeted admiration of the school last week. But if I were Turner, I would take the nod of recent Texas high school greats and spurn the Longhorns.

Kentucky’s Julius Randle, Baylor’s Isaiah Austin and class of 2014 five-star recruit and SMU committ Emmanual Mudiay all chose other schools.

Here are a few reasons why.

 — The Atmosphere

No matter how successful the basketball program is for Texas, it isn’t football.

Longhorn fans aren’t the most passionate about basketball. Fans don’t show up for nonconference game, and only games against Oklahoma and Kansas seem to get fans on their feet.  

The Erwin Center is devoid of a deafening atmosphere. Even if the crowd is relatively large, seats almost always look empty because of the size of the building.

Wouldn’t Turner rather play at Allen Fieldhouse, the place ESPN ranked as the loudest stadium in college basketball?

Heck, even SMU’s newly renovated Moody Coliseum offers a better basketball experience than the Erwin Center.

 — The Spotlight

Texas basketball doesn’t get a lot of attention around Austin.

Even though the team was ranked in the top 20 this past season, the only thing Longhorn fans could pay attention to was the beginning of new football head coach Charlie Strong’s program. Part of this is attributable to the Big 12 Conference itself, as it’s not too flashy. The Big 12 is deep, and one could even make the case that it was the best conference last year. But only Kansas was really ever a championship contender.

The ACC, Big 10 and even the AAC had more weeks in the top 10 than the Big 12. While the No. 20 and No. 21 teams matching up is a good game, the country will always pay more attention to perennial top-5 teams. If Turner went to Duke or Ohio State, he would have more high-profile games to boost his stock.

 — Coaching

Rick Barnes is a good coach. But would people rather play for him than Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski, Kansas’ Bill Self or SMU’s Larry Brown? Turner will likely turn pro after one year, and, while talented, his game is in need of considerable molding. Barnes is not the best man to do that. Krzyzewski, Self and Brown all have considerable experience preparing players for the NBA.

Close proximity to home and following the path of his favorite player Kevin Durant are compelling reasons for Turner to attend Texas. But, with the wealth of experience he could gain elsewhere, are the Longhorns really the best place for Turner to play in college?