Jaylen Bond

Julien Lewis would be the Longhorns’ leading returning scorer if he decides to stay in Austin for his junior season.

Photo Credit: Elisabeth Dillon | Daily Texan Staff

With three departures already this offseason, Texas has gone from a young but more experienced team back to a young team with almost no experience. A five-man 2011 recruiting class has dwindled down to two players, which could get even smaller if one them transfers.

Julien Lewis was expected to become a major piece of the team as a sophomore. Instead, he joined fellow guard Sheldon McClellan in Rick Barnes’ doghouse, conveniently located on the bench, for much of the season. McClellan has already made the decision to transfer, along with forward Jaylen Bond, and there is a chance that Lewis may not be far behind. So the only acceptable question regarding Lewis’ future is this: is he better off sticking it out, or should he move on to a fresh start?

Despite losing a starting spot to a bunch of freshmen midway through the season, Lewis was still counted on by Barnes and the rest of the team to make big contributions. Late in games against Iowa State and Oklahoma, Lewis came off the bench to make crucial three-pointers. Some of Texas’ late-season wins would not have come if Lewis doesn’t hit important shots down the stretch. But the fact remains that he was relegated to a supporting role, and the question over what his role will be heading into next season is looming over his head.

There were times this past season when he and McClellan lacked the effort and conviction that Barnes wanted from them and they seemed disconnected from the offense. Both seemed to settle for shots far from the basket, rather than taking the ball to the rim.

If he has a chance to become a starter and primary contributor on another roster, then he may have to consider a change. A change in location could reenergize him and drive him to do what he needs to do to be successful.

Or he could stick it out in Austin and use this demotion as motivation for next season. On a roster devoid of experience, Lewis and rising junior Jonathan Holmes could become leaders on the team.

Lewis came to Texas for a reason. Out of all the other offers he had and places he could have gone, he chose to come to Texas and to play for Barnes. Is that still a good enough reason to suit up for the Longhorns? Does he still want to play for Texas? For Barnes? 

Lewis has to decide if the same thing that drew him to Austin two years ago is still driving him now. If it isn’t, then he may join McClellan and Bond in their exodus out of Texas. But if there is still something there that brought him here originally, then staying and beating this situation may be the best answer. Only he can decide.

Sheldon McClellan (1) goes up for a shot.

Photo Credit: Shelby Tauber | Daily Texan Staff

Texas sophomore guard Sheldon McClellan plans to transfer, a Texas spokesman confirmed to The Daily Texan on Wednesday.

McClellan led the Longhorns with 13.5 points per game last season and becomes the second Texas player to transfer in as many weeks. Sophomore forward Jaylen Bond announced his intentions to transfer last Monday.

McClellan was in and out of head coach Rick Barnes’ doghouse all year long. Three times he was held scoreless while playing fewer than 10 minutes, responding with big games each time. McClellan averaged 20.7 points per game during a three-game winning streak earlier this month but scored just five points in a loss to Kansas State in the Big 12 tournament and six points on 2-for-13 shooting from the floor in a season-ending, 73-72 defeat to Houston in the first round of the CBI last Wednesday.

McClellan has filed the paperwork to request his release from the team and is waiting on Texas to grant it. A Texas spokesman said he doesn’t foresee any issues in processing the paperwork and making the transfer official soon.

The Houston native averaged 11.3 points and 3.3 rebounds per game as a freshman two seasons ago. He was a 44.8 percent shooter that season, connecting on 31 percent of his three-point attempts that year, but McClellan shot just 38.2 percent from the floor this past season and 27.3 percent from beyond the arc. 

“When he’s dialed in, there’s no doubt he’s a guy that can go get points in a lot of different ways,” Barnes said of McClellan last month. “When he’s lazy and floating around, people are there and he’s not set. He’s not ready. That’s when he struggles.”

In the game after being held scoreless in just seven minutes of a 78-65 loss to Oklahoma State in Stillwater on March 2, McClellan scored 23 points on 9-for-14 shooting while knocking down three three-pointers in a 79-70 win over Baylor on senior night. In three contests after not scoring a single point, McClellan averaged 18.7 points and shot 57.1 percent from the floor.

“I don’t really think about it,” McClellan said of being benched after the victory over the Bears. “I just move on to the next game and try to help my team to get the win. I just try to stay positive. It is not about me. It is about the team.”

Bond and McClellan could be joined by sophomore point guard Myck Kabongo in leaving Texas soon. Kabongo, a projected second-round pick by DraftExpress, averaged 14.6 points in the 11 games he played after serving a 23-game suspension.

Texas finished this past season with a record of 16-18, by far, the worst under Barnes, who led the Longhorns to the NCAA Tournament in his first 14 years on the job before missing out this season.

Report: Longhorns’ leading scorer Sheldon McClellan to transfer

Texas sophomore guard Sheldon McClellan will transfer, according to a report by ESPN.

McClellan led the Longhorns with 13.5 points per game last season and becomes the second Texas player to transfer this month. Sophomore forward Jaylen Bond announced his intentions to transfer last Monday.

McClellan was in and out of head coach Rick Barnes’ doghouse all year long. Three times he played fewer than 10 minutes and was held scoreless, responding with big games each time. McClellan averaged 20.7 points per game during a three-game winning streak earlier this month but scored just five points in a loss to Kansas State in the Big 12 tournament and six points in a season-ending, 73-72 defeat to Houston last Wednesday.

Bond and McClellan could be joined by sophomore point guard Myck Kabongo in leaving Texas. Kabongo averaged 14.6 points, 5.0 rebounds and 5.5 assists in the 11 games he played in after serving a 23-game suspension for receiving impermissible benefits over the offseason.

Five-star prospect Julius Randle picks Kentucky over Texas

Plano Prestonwood Christian power forward Julius Randle, a five-star prospect, according to rivals.com, committed to Kentucky on Wednesday afternoon, picking the Wildcats over Texas, Kansas and Florida.

After sophomore forward Jaylen Bond announced his decision to transfer from Texas this week, the Longhorns picked up a commitment from an Orlando product, shooting guard Demarcus Croaker. But Randle, widely considered to be one of the best, if not the best, high school basketball players in the country, picked Kentucky — who fell to Robert Morris in the first round of the NIT on Tuesday.

With Bond transferring, there is room for another player to join the Longhorns' 2013 recruiting class. Texas also has a verbal commitment from Houston product Isaiah Taylor. Both Taylor and Croaker are three-star prospects, meaning that head coach Rick Barnes might go another year without signing a five-star prospect.

Texas signed Myck Kabongo in 2011, Tristan Thompson in 2010 and Avery Bradley in 2009. Those are the last three five-star prospects signed by Barnes.

Report: Four-star shooting guard DeMarcus Croaker commits to Texas

One day after sophomore forward Jaylen Bond announced his plans to transfer from Texas, the Longhorns secured a commitment from Class of 2013 shooting guard DeMarcus Croaker, according to a report by ESPN.

Croaker, a four-star prospect, according to rivals.com, is a 6-foot-3 guard from Jones High School in Orlando, Fla. and had initially made a verbal commitment to play for the Murray State Racers this coming fall. However, because Croaker made his commitment during the early signing period he was not bound by signing a National Letter of Intent and was easily able to switch his commitment to Texas. Croaker paid a visit to Texas in early March after decommitting from Murray State and was in Austin for the Longhorns’ 79-70 win over Baylor in their final home game of the season.

With Bond’s transfer freeing up another scholarship, the Longhorns have had their eye on a number of shooting guards, including Dallas Kimball’s Keith Fraizer. While Croaker isn’t ranked as high nationally as Frazier, he possesses some of the same qualities that Rick Barnes and his staff look for in incoming freshman. Croaker has shown a propensity for putting opposing players on posters by way of massive dunks and smooth passing in the lane. He can finish with authority and his calling card seems to be throwing down alley-oops in transition. His long arms also allow him to get out on the perimeter and alter shots and get out on the break quickly. Croaker’s outside shot is still developing, but he is yet another in a long line of Barnes’ recruits who can score at will and in a number of different ways. He’s shown a quick first step and plenty of bounce to warrant an offer from the Longhorns. He should fit in nicely to Barnes’ defense-first approach and help carry some of the scoring load if he is asked to early on in his career.

After a year in which Barnes played six freshman, Croaker could compete for playing time immediately. With Javan Felix in line to take over ball handling duties that frees up time and space for rangy guards like Croaker, DeMarcus Holland and Julien Lewis to see extended action on the court. Croaker could pressure the likes of Sheldon McLellan for playing time as well if McLellan starts slumping like he did at times this season.

Texas may receive more good news soon with the nation’s No. 1 power forward, Julius Randle, set to announce his college decision Wednesday afternoon. Randle has whittled down his final options to a list of four schools: Kansas, Kentucky, Florida and Texas.

 

Sophomore Jaylen Bond (5) has decided to transfer from Texas after limited playing time in two season with the Longhorns.

Photo Credit: Lawrence Peart | Daily Texan Staff

Texas sophomore forward Jaylen Bond announced his intentions to transfer Monday. He will not play in the College Basketball Invitational.

The Philadelphia product averaged 2.8 points and 3.2 rebounds in 11.1 minutes per game this season. He missed 11 of the Longhorns’ first 12 games with a left foot injury and played more than 15 minutes only six times this year.

“While this was a difficult decision to make, I feel it is the right one for me at this time,” Bond said. “I want to thank everyone who played a part in allowing me the privilege to attend The University of Texas. This starts with the coaching staff, my fellow teammates and the educational staff who have helped me during the past two years. They have taught me a lot, and I am very grateful for the opportunity to have been part of this program.”

Bond becomes the second player to transfer from Texas in as many seasons. Point guard Sterling Gibbs transferred to Seton Hall after one year with the Longhorns.

After scoring 3.4 points and grabbing 4.6 rebounds in 15.4 minutes per game and starting five times as a freshman last year, Bond started only twice this season.

“It wouldn’t be right for me to continue playing in the postseason and take minutes away from my teammates who are returning,” Bond said. “Once again, I would like to thank everyone who has supported me while I was here.”

Longhorns forward Jaylen Bond will transfer

Texas sophomore forward Jaylen Bond announced his intentions to transfer Monday. He will not play in the College Basketball Invitational.

The Philadelphia product averaged 2.8 points and 3.2 rebounds in 11.1 minutes per game this season. He missed 11 of the Longhorns’ first 12 games with a left foot injury and played more than 15 minutes only six times this year.

“While this was a difficult decision to make, I feel it is the right one for me at this time,” Bond said. “I want to thank everyone who played a part in allowing me the privilege to attend The University of Texas. This starts with the coaching staff, my fellow teammates and the educational staff who have helped me during the past two years. They have taught me a lot, and I am very grateful for the opportunity to have been part of this program.”

Bond becomes the second player to transfer from Texas in as many seasons. Point guard Sterling Gibbs transferred to Seton Hall after one year with the Longhorns.

After scoring 3.4 points and grabbing 4.6 rebounds in 15.4 minutes per game and starting five times as a freshman last year, Bond started only twice this season.

“It wouldn’t be right for me to continue playing in the postseason and take minutes away from my teammates who are returning,” Bond said. “Once again, I would like to thank everyone who has supported me while I was here.”

Sophomore Sheldon McClellan shoots during Texas’ 65-37 win over Sam Houston State. McClellan led the Longhorns in scoring for the fourth time this season with 16 points and he went six-for-six at the free throw line.

Photo Credit: Elisabeth Dillon | Daily Texan Staff

Once again, the Longhorns weren’t great on offense. But they didn’t have to be.

Texas held Sam Houston State to 21 percent shooting from the floor in a 65-37 victory Tuesday night — the second lowest by a Longhorns opponent in the last 15 seasons. Texas was not spectacular itself, shooting only 39.5 percent from the floor and committing 19 turnovers, but managed to win its first game since returning from the Maui Invitational.

The Longhorns suffered disappointing losses to Division II Chaminade and USC in Maui but have since won two straight. With Texas and Sam Houston State tied, 4-4, nearly six and a half minutes into the game, it seemed like it would take a while for the Longhorns to pull away. But a 12-0 run over a 3:40 span in the first half gave them a big lead and set them up for a lopsided victory.

Sophomore point guard Myck Kabongo missed his sixth straight game as the NCAA continues its investigation into allegations that he received impermissible benefits earlier this year. Fellow sophomore Jaylen Bond was also out with a left foot injury.

“I can sit here and tell you that if we had Myck Kabongo and Jaylen Bond, there’d be a lot of things that were different,” head coach Rick Barnes said. “They’re our two toughest games, our two best rebounders. Other guys are learning how to talk.”

Jonathan Holmes scored 10 of his 11 points before halftime while Julien Lewis scored all 10 of his points in the second half. Sheldon McClellan, for the fourth time this year, led the Longhorns in scoring, this time with 16 points, but on just 4-for-13 shooting. Despite being the team’s leading scorer, McClellan came off the bench, playing 28 minutes.

“What we’ve told our guys from Day 1 is that we’re going to play the guys that we call ‘everyday guys,’” Barnes said. “We think Sheldon can be a really special player. Sheldon doesn’t realize how good Sheldon can be. He can be a prolific scorer in so many ways.”

After getting outrebounded by the Bearkats 21-18 in the first half, the Longhorns turned things around in the second half, outrebounding Sam Houston State, 29-11.
All three of Texas’ sophomores scored in double figures, accounting for 37 points while the team’s freshmen accounted for 14 of its 19 turnovers.

“As sophomores, we definitely need to step it up, especially with Myck and Jaylen out,” Holmes said. “The young guys haven’t been through it yet so we have to help lead the way.”

Bearkats point guard Paul Baxter, an Austin Bowie product whose father, Ron, was a four-year starter for Texas from 1977-80, scored a team-high 12 points for Sam Houston State on 4-for-9 shooting. The rest of his team was just 9-for-53 (17 percent) from the floor.

Printed on Wednesday, November 28, 2012 as: Defense leads Longhorns: offense struggles, defense rallies after tournament

Sheldon McClellan, sophomore

Photo Credit: Zachary Strain | Daily Texan Staff

Not much has changed for Texas since its season began.

The Longhorns are still without Myck Kabongo, the sophomore point guard who is still under investigation by the NCAA. They still do not know if sophomore forward Jaylen Bond, who has not practiced since suffering an ankle injury Nov. 6, will play.

“Not playing weighs on him,” head coach Rick Barnes said of Kabongo, who allegedly received impermissible benefits from an agent over the offseason. “He’s done everything he can in practice to continue to help these guys. In the last two and a half weeks we’ve kind of had to remake ourselves without him. We’re just going to have to find a way to get it done.”

Both Kabongo and Bond traveled with the team to Hawaii, where Texas begins play in the Maui Invitational on Monday against Chaminade. It will mark the Longhorns’ fourth Maui Invitational appearance and first since 2008, when they took third place. They beat Chaminade, 84-62, in 2004 during their only previous meeting.

With two key players out — leaving Texas with only three scholarship players with college basketball experience before this year — sophomore guard Sheldon McClellan has carried the Longhorns to a pair of wins.

He scored 20 points in a 55-53 win against Fresno State, a team that won 14 games last year, going 14-for-14 from the free throw line. That was the most tries from the charity stripe without a miss in a game in UT’s history.

McClellan found his shot in Texas’ second game — a 69-46 victory — shooting 7-for-10 from the floor and hitting three of four three-point attempts on his way to scoring a career-high 25 points.

Does he have to be the team’s leading scorer for Texas to succeed without Kabongo and Bond?

“If it comes down to that,” McClellan said. “It’s not something I worry about. I’m going to have to score but it’s not really on my mind.”

Texas plays either USC or Illinois on Tuesday if it beats Chaminade Monday. 

Freshman point guard Javan Felix (3) drives past a Fresno State defender in the first half of the Longhorns' 55-53 win over the Bulldogs.

Photo Credit: Fanny Trang | Daily Texan Staff

It wasn't easy. It wasn't pretty. But Texas is 1-0.

Sheldon McClellan scored 18 of his game-high 20 points in the second half as the Longhorns squeaked past Fresno State, 55-53, in their season opener at the Frank Erwin Center on Friday night. The Longhorns shot just 36.7 percent from the field and recorded only three assists but were able to avoid losing their first season opener since 2001.

Any sluggishness they displayed could be attributed to the fact that they haven't had a day off in nearly a week.

"We're a tired team right now and it's my fault," head coach Rick Barnes said. "We've had to remake ourselves a little bit with Myck [Kabongo]'s situation and Jaylen going down... This is our sixth straight day. In the last eight or nine years, we've never practiced more than three days in a row."

Playing without Kabongo, the team's star point guard, and sophomore forward Jaylen Bond, Texas was left with only three available scholarship players that had played college basketball before. One of them, sophomore forward Jonathan Holmes, grabbed a game-high 14 rebounds. Another, McCllelan, was 14-for-14 from the free throw line, the most attempts from the charity stripe without a miss in school history.

"My outside shot wasn't falling and Coach [Barnes] called some plays for me to get around the rim," McClellan said. "I just kept being in attack mode and kepy my confidence up by getting to the free throw line."

Kabongo was held out of the game as the NCAA continues to investigate whether he received impermissible benefits from an agent during the offseason and Bond missed the opener with an ankle injury he suffered during practice earlier in the week.

Without them, Texas never led Fresno State by more than five points. Freshmen accounted for 19 of the 25 points scored by the Longhorns in the first half. Jevan Felix, starting in place of Kabongo, led the way in the first 20 minutes with eight points and seven rebounds before halftime.

But he slowed down in the second half, shooting just 1-for-7 from the floor and committing three turnovers.

"I think we got tentative," Barnes said. "We weren't attacking the defense. We were just dribbling with no purpose. Jevan got tired. Because of that, we didn't get our offense going the way we wanted to get it going."

The game was tied 11 times, the last being when the Longhorns and Bulldogs -- coached by former Texas assistant Rodney Terry -- were knotted up at 48 with 2:14 remaining in the second half. McClellan hit a pair of free throws on the Longhorns' next two possessions to give them a 52-48 lead.

After Fresno State hit two free throws to cut Texas' advantage to two points, Felix badly missed a floater close to the basket, a shot he hit several times in the first half. The Bulldogs' Kevin Olekaibe, with his team trailing, 52-50, airballed a three-pointer before McClellan hit two more free throws to put the game away.

"We're not going to blow anyone out," McClellan said. "They came out here and played hard. We just stayed together as a team and grinded it out at the end."