Julien Lewis

Texas’ 2011 recruiting class started six strong and was expected to return the program to prominence. Instead, only one member of the class, Jonathan Holmes, remains at Texas as the group enters what would have been its junior year. Here is a breakdown of where the highly touted recruiting class ended up, and how it happened.

Myck Kabongo
Class of 2011
PG

Kabongo, a five-star recruit in the 2011 class, never quite gelled at Texas. His freshman year, Barnes was often hard on the first-year point guard, but Kabongo ultimately came back to Texas for his sophomore season. However, in a long, drawn-out saga, the NCAA suspended Kabongo for the team’s first 23 games because he had received improper benefits. After the season ended, Kabongo declared for the NBA draft but was not selected. Kabongo signed a deal to play for the Miami Heat’s summer league team.

 

Sheldon McClellan
Class of 2011
SG

McClellan, the Longhorns’ most potent offensive player while Kabongo served his suspension, also had his issues with Barnes. The shooting guard often found himself benched for long stretches, even during key games, for an apparent lack of effort. After Kabongo returned, Barnes further slashed McClellan’s playing time. After the season, McClellan declared his intention to transfer and will join Miami.

 

Julien Lewis
Class of 2011
SG

Lewis, an unheralded member of the Longhorns’ 2011 class, was often Texas’ best pure shooter in 2012. The 6-foot-3-inch guard averaged 11.2 points and 3.3 rebounds last season, often hitting big shots for Texas. However, like many other members of his class, Lewis elected to transfer after the season and is headed to Fresno State. 

 

Jaylen Bond
Class of 2011
PF

Bond did not hit his stride in 2012. The projected starter at the four spot, Bond missed all but one of the Longhorns’ first 12 games. After he came back, Bond never quite looked in rhythm, averaging 2.8 points and 3.2 rebounds a game. Like four other members of his recruiting class Bond elected to transfer and is headed to Temple after the season.

 

Sterling Gibbs
Class of 2011
PG

Gibbs did not wait until the 2012 season to transfer. Gibbs left UT following his freshman year citing personal reasons and transferred to Seton Hall. 

Where did the class of 2011 go?

Texas’ 2011 recruiting class started six strong and was expected to return the program to prominence. Instead, only one member of the class remains at Texas as the group enters what would have been its junior year.

Myck Kabongo (PG)

Kabongo, a five-star recruit in the 2011 class, never quite gelled at Texas. His freshman year, Barnes was often hard on the first-year point guard, but Kabongo ultimately came back to Texas for his sophomore season. However, in a long, drawn-out saga, the NCAA suspended Kabongo for the team’s first 23 games because he had received improper benefits. After the season ended, Kabongo declared for the NBA draft but was not selected. Kabongo signed a deal to play for the Miami Heat’s summer league team.

Sheldon McClellan (SG)

McClellan, the Longhorns’ most potent offensive player while Kabongo served his suspension, also had his issues with Barnes. The shooting guard often found himself benched for long stretches, even during key games, for an apparent lack of effort. After Kabongo returned, Barnes further slashed McClellan’s playing time. After the season, McClellan declared his intention to transfer and will join Miami.

Julien Lewis (SG)

Lewis, an unheralded member of the Longhorns’ 2011 class, was often Texas’ best pure shooter in 2012. The 6-foot-3-inch guard averaged 11.2 points and 3.3 rebounds last season, often hitting big shots for Texas. However, like many other members of his class, Lewis elected to transfer after the season and is headed to Fresno State. 

Jaylen Bond (PF)

Bond did not hit his stride in 2012. The projected starter at the four spot, Bond missed all but one of the Longhorns’ first 12 games. After he came back, Bond never quite looked in rhythm, averaging 2.8 points and 3.2 rebounds a game. Like four other members of his recruiting class Bond elected to transfer and is headed to Temple after the season.

Sterling Gibbs (PG)

Gibbs did not wait until the 2012 season to transfer. Gibbs left UT following his freshman year citing personal reasons and transferred to Seton Hall.

Sophomore Julien Lewis to transfer from Texas

Sophomore Julien Lewis was granted a release and will transfer from the program Texas announced through Twitter on Tuesday afternoon.

Lewis is the fourth Longhorn to leave Texas this semester. Sophomores Sheldon McClellan and Jaylen Bond announced their intents to transfer in March and Sophomore Myck Kabongo declared for the NBA draft last month.

The Longhorns finished this past season with a record of 16-18 and missed the NCAA tournament for the first time under Texas head coach Rick Barnes.

Lewis started in 21 games for the Longhorns this past season averaging 11.2 points per game. The sophomore from Galveston, TX shot .398 from the field and .351 beyond the 3-point arc this past season. 

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.

Guard Julien Lewis will likely be the go-to player if he decides to return to Texas to help the team rebuild next season. 

Photo Credit: Lawrence Peart | Daily Texan Staff

For Rick Barnes, the end of the year means putting a 16-18 record behind them and shifting focus to the future. It also means figuring out who’s going to be on his team. 

Thursday night at the Longhorns’ basketball banquet, Barnes addressed the state of flux around the status of Myck Kabongo, who says he hasn’t decided whether to return for his junior season or head to the NBA.

“Our whole feeling was, in [Myck’s] mind, he wanted this to be his last year,” Barnes said before Thursday night’s team banquet. “He might be decided. Who knows, he might have decided a long time ago.”

Barnes will have a lighter load on hand for offseason workouts after Jaylen Bond and Sheldon McClellan both announced plans to transfer. Julien Lewis, a junior in the fall, is still contemplating his future. Should Lewis stay with the Longhorns, rather than transfer or test his game overseas, he’d likely be the top scorer.

“I think I can be that go-to guy and play more of my game,” Lewis said. “I just need to be more aggressive, attack the rim more and not settle for jump shots.”

Teammate Ioannis Papapetrou is counting on Lewis to return.

“Julien is a great guy, and his decision is about what’s best for him and his family,” Papapetrou said. “Right now he’s just thinking and sometimes he’s not with us in practice but I’m confident he will be with us next year.”

If Lewis does not return to Texas for his junior season, the Longhorns are left with seven returning scholarship players. It’s not starting from scratch, but Texas faces another uphill battle in order to finish among the Big 12’s best. Texas finished seventh in the conference this year with a 7-11 record in the Big 12.

“Next year won’t get here soon enough,” Barnes said. “There wasn’t any momentum or consistency this year, but I can tell you there has been a lot more energy surrounding practices and workouts this spring.”

The player who might make a big jump forward is point guard Javan Felix, who logged a healthy amount of minutes as a freshman in place of the suspended Kabongo. Next year he’s expected to get more reps and to produce better results.

“When Javan came in for Myck at the beginning of the year he didn’t know left from right,” Barnes said. “Even though he’s a tough kid, he felt the weight of the world.”

Felix remains firm in his belief that this Texas team can make a return to the NCAA Tournament, which he admitted was a tough event to watch from home rather than competing in.

“We owe it to all the guys that came before us,” Felix said. “Coach Barnes wants me to work on getting my shot up quicker, to play better defense and just be a better point guard. This year there were times when we thought we were working hard, but you look back and realize it wasn’t hard enough. That’s what we’re going to be able to tell the new guys coming in this off-season — work harder than you ever have before.”

First Half

Cameron Ridley won the tip for Texas, which missed three shots on its opening possession before Houston’s Joseph Young assisted Danuel House on an alley-oop that put the Cougars on the scoreboard 2-0. Ridley, making his second straight start, left the game after just five minutes with an upper respiratory infection. The Longhorns were held to 32.4 percent shooting and were out-rebounded 34-24 in the first 20 minutes as Young’s game-high 12 points had the Cougars leading, 37-31, at halftime.

Second Half

Texas scored the first seven points of the second half to take a one-point lead and extended it to its largest of the game, 62-56, with six minutes left. An 11-0 run by Houston quickly erased that lead but Julien Lewis helped the Longhorns claw their way back before Myck Kabongo knocked down a pair of free throws with 52 seconds left to put Texas on top, 72-71. House hit a jumper with 17 seconds left to give Houston a 73-72 advantage and Lewis, who scored 19 of his career-high 25 points in the second half, missed a potentially game-winning shot from the foul line in the final seconds.

Stock Up

Prince Ibeh- The 6-foot-10 freshman set career highs in points (12), rebounds (11) and blocks (five). He scored 10 points in his previous six games combined, including three scoreless contests. A 34.4 percent shooter from the free throw line entering Wednesday, Ibeh connected on four of eight tries from the charity stripe — despite airballing one in the first half.

Stock Down

Texas basketball - The Longhorns finished this season with a dismal record of 16-18, by far their worst under longtime head coach Rick Barnes. They could not manage to pick up a win even in the CBI, the third-most prestigious postseason tournament in college basketball. Myck Kabongo will likely declare for the NBA Draft after two seasons at Texas but the Longhorns should return everyone else in what should be a better 2013-14 season.

What’s Next

The Longhorns enter the offseason with a sour taste in their mouth after an early exit from the CBI. They’ll welcome Demarcus Croaker and Isaiah Taylor next year and will probably return everyone except Kabongo, who scored 17 points and had six assists Wednesday in what could be his last game with Texas.

Freshman Demarcus Holland reacts to Wednesday night's 73-72 loss to Houston in the first round of the College Basketball Invitational. The Longhorns finished the season 16-18 in the worst season under head coach Rick Barnes.

Photo Credit: Elisabeth Dillon | Daily Texan Staff

HOUSTON — To keep their season alive, the Longhorns had their work cut out for them from the onset Wednesday night. In the end, Houston proved to be too much for Texas, winning 73-72 to knock the Longhorns out of the CBI.

The Cougars will play George Mason in the CBI quarterfinals.

“It’s a disappointment,” head coach Rick Barnes said. “You are what you are and we ended up being 16-18.”

Down one point with five seconds remaining in the game, Texas had a chance to take the lead but Julien Lewis was unable to connect on a jumper in the lane to give Texas the edge. Lewis scored a career-high 25 points but the Longhorns could not keep the Cougars from making big shots down the stretch.

Already down one scholarship player after sophomore forward Jaylen Bond announced he would transfer on Monday evening, Texas lost another player when Cameron Ridley exited the game with an upper respiratory infection just five minutes into the game against the Cougars.

With two big men out of commission the job of controlling the post fell to Prince Ibeh, a player not known for his offensive aptitude. However, Ibeh rose to the challenge and recorded career highs in points, rebounds and blocks. The freshman scored 12 points, pulled down 11 rebounds and blocked five shots. 

“I knew I had to step up when Cameron went out,” Ibeh said. “I guess we assumed we were going to win and that it was just going to happen. We can’t assume that. We’ve got to make that happen. That’s what we’ve got to learn.” 

Ibeh presented a challenge for the smaller Houston post players, and worked his way to the free throw line several times by clearing out space on the block and forcing the Cougars to contest any shot he took. His free throw shooting was less than stellar as he went 4-of-8 from the line, but with each successive trip to the line, Ibeh forced the Cougars deeper into foul trouble. Texas attempted just six free throws in the first half, but ended the game with 18 attempts, making 14 of those shots.

The Cougars had four players reach double-digit point totals and seemed to be in transition the entire game, scoring nine points off turnovers and 11 more on the fast break. Joseph Young was especially effective against the Longhorns’ zone defense, shooting over the top of defenders and hitting four of the five Cougars’ made three-pointers. Forward TaShawn Thomas added 15 points and 10 rebounds.

“We knew we had to get back in transition fast against these guys,” Lewis said. “They love to run and we did do a better job getting back in the second half, but we have to get better at finishing games.”

Myck Kabongo put up 17 points and dished out six assists to go along with four steals. The Longhorns’ leading scorer Sheldon McClellan got off to a slow start shooting the ball and stayed cold from behind the three point line as he missed all five of his three point attempts.

For the first time since 1997-98, the Longhorns finish their season with a losing record.

“One thing I hope our guys learn from this year is how fine a line it is between winning and losing,” Barnes said. 

Three reasons why Texas will win the Big 12 tournament

Texas, the No. 7 seed in this year's Big 12 tournament, took down TCU for the third time this year Wednesday night in Kansas City. It was the first of four wins at the Big 12 tournament the Longhorns will need to reach the Big Dance for the 15th straight season. Here are three reasons why Texas will get those other three wins and earn that NCAA Tournament spot:

1. Texas is playing its best basketball of the year

The Longhorns are 6-3 since Myck Kabongo returned from a 23-game suspension, when they were 10-13. Half of their wins with Kabongo on the floor have come in overtime after going 0-3 in overtime games without him. Those numbers don't lie. Texas is winning games it would not have won without Kabongo, who had 16 points and six assists in a 70-57 win over TCU in the first round of the Big 12 tournament Wednesday night. The Longhorns had no trouble sweeping the Horned Frogs in the regular season without Kabongo but with him back in the lineup they're a different, much improved team.

2. McClellan and Lewis coming off the bench, coming up big

It's not just Kabongo's return that has Texas playing so well but the strides sophomores Sheldon McClellan and Julien Lewis have made over the last couple weeks. Since returning from a concussion he suffered in a loss to Kansas State on Feb. 23, Lewis has hit at least three three-pointers and scored at least 15 points three times in four games. That's something he did only twice in his first 27 games this season. Meanwhile, McClellan, since playing only seven minutes and being held scoreless in a home loss to Oklahoma State on Mar. 2, is averaging 20.7 points on 52.8 percent shooting from the floor while connecting on 40 percent of his three-point attempts and 90 percent of his free-throw tries. Both are coming off the bench -- Texas has used the same starting lineup every game since Kabongo's season debut -- and have been extremely effective recently.

"We've got 11 starters," head coach Rick Barnes said. "Every guy I started at some point in time because of different circumstances throughout the year. But I do think that we're figuring some things out with a full rotation... They're starting to understand more of a rotation that we may have to go to."


3. It's March -- the most wonderful, most unpredictable time of the year

You can have Christmas. I'll take March Madness. Anything can happen. If Liberty and Western Kentucky can win their conference tournaments, the Longhorns can win theirs. The only way they can get to the Big Dance for the 15th straight year is to run the table in Kansas City. And, as good as they're playing, that makes them a team you don't want to see right now.


"They're a dangerous team right now," TCU head coach Trent Johnson said. "If anybody's capable of winning three more, they're it."

Recent Headlines

Three reasons why Texas won't win the Big 12 tournament

 

Photo Credit: Elisabeth Dillon | Daily Texan Staff

KANSAS CITY – Sophomores Julien Lewis and Sheldon McClellan came up big off the bench for the Longhorns in their 70-57 win over TCU in the first round of the Big 12 tournament Wednesday night. 

Lewis led the Longhorns with 19 points, hitting four three-pointers. McClellan scored 12 points and hit seven of eight attempts from the free throw line.

“I think we’re coming out with a lot of confidence,” Lewis said. “[Head] coach [Rick Barnes] asked us to be aggressive when we come in. We gotta go in and do our jobs.

The Longhorns struggled in the first half, leading last-place TCU by two going into the locker room with a score of 28-26 at halftime. Kabongo led Texas in scoring with eight points in the first 20 minutes. The Longhorns jumped out to a 10-2 lead but allowed a surge by the Horned Frogs to bring the score to within two.

A 3-pointer by TCU’s Nate Butler Lind gave the Horned Frogs’ their first lead of the game, making it 22-21 with 2:49 left in the half, but Lewis responded with his own three-pointer on the next possession to put Texas back out front.

The Longhorns defense held TCU to 33.3 percent shooting in the first half, but allowed several key three-pointers that kept the game close.

“At the start of the game, I thought our defense was outstanding. We really came out and create some offense,” Barnes said. “Our defense got stymied on offense a little, on the offensive end. We knew it was going to be a hard fought game from the beginning.”

Throughout the second half, the Longhorns stayed aggressive to maintain the lead. The Horned frogs kept it close at first, posting a 39-27 lead at 14:49, but the Longhorns bounced back and played smart, extending the lead to 13 points.

“Being aggressive, that’s all it is, is being aggressive and staying in attack mode and knowing that when we’re in the bonus, just take care of the ball and trying to be aggressive,” Kabongo, who scored 16 points and had six assists, said. “Just being aggressive.”

The No. 7 seed Longhorns will turn around and face No. 2 seed Kansas State on Thursday at 6 p.m. The Longhorns dropped both regular season contests to the Wildcats by double digits.

“Well I’m not sure they’re not the best team, one of the best teams in the country,” Barnes said of Kansas State. “They don’t give you anything easy.” 

Texas' Julien Lewis (14) makes the game-winning basket over Texas Tech's Jaye Crockett (30) in an NCAA college basketball game in Lubbock, Texas, Saturday, March 9, 2013.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

Ever since Myck Kabongo returned, Texas has used the same starting lineup every game: Connor Lammert, Ioannis Papapetrou, Jonathan Holmes, Demarcus Holland and Kabongo.

It was no different in the Longhorns' regular season finale against Texas Tech. They trotted out the same starting five but it was a pair of sophomores that came off the bench -- Sheldon McClellan and Julien Lewis -- who they had to thank for their 71-69 triumph over the Red Raiders in Lubbock on Saturday afternoon.

"I told the guys, 'You know, we haven't won two games since December,'" head coach Rick Barnes said. "It's not like they've had a great year. I think it got down to competing and they out-competed us. We got down and we fought back and won the game."

McClellan, the team's leading scorer who has been in and out of head coach Rick Barnes' doghouse all year long, scored a career-high 27 points in the win. Since being held scoreless and playing only seven minutes during a 78-65 loss to Oklahoma State last weekend, McClellan is averaging 25 points per game.

"It doesn't really affect us," McClellan said of him and Lewis not starting. "We've been starting and not starting all season and even last year. Whenever our names get called we just go into the game and try to help our team out."

Lewis scored 15 points off the bench on an unimpressive 4-for-12 shooting from the floor but he came up big when it mattered most. After hitting a pair of three-pointers in the final minutes of regulation, Lewis broke a 69-69 tie by hitting a jumper with 1.7 seconds left in overtime.

"Coach [Barnes] really wanted to get the ball moving a little bit," Lewis said. "He really wanted to get Josh Gray away from the top so one of us could go one-on-one with one of their other players. I waited out until like five seconds and made sure I had enough time to see if I could make the best shot I can. I just took it to my advantage and I went at them."

The bucket allowed Texas to pass West Virginia in the Big 12 standings and earn the No. 7 seed in the Big 12 tournament next week. The Longhorns will face No. 10 seed TCU on Wednesday at 8:30 p.m. Texas swept the Horned Frogs during the regular season, beating them, 60-43, in Austin on Feb. 2 and again, 68-59, on Feb. 19 in its only road victory of the season until Saturday's triumph in Lubbock.

If Texas beats TCU again Wednesday night in Kansas City, it will face No. 2 seed Kansas State on Thursday.

"We showed heart at the end, McClellan said. "We didn't play hard the whole 40 minutes but we will definitely play harder next time. We came off with the win and that is what we wanted to do."

On Saturday, the Longhorns won their third straight overtime game since Kabongo's return from his 23-game suspension. They were 0-3 in overtime contests before he came back. Kabongo struggled shooting, going 0-for-12 from the floor.

With three seconds left in regulation and Texas trailing by one point, Kabongo was fouled and given a chance to put the Longhorns on top. Instead, he missed the first of two free throws and hit the second to send the game to overtime. Kabongo scored seven points, grabbed nine rounds, dished out four assists and recorded three steals while committing five turnovers in the win.

Texas improved to 5-3 with Kabongo on the floor despite trailing by as many 17 points in the first half. The Longhorns, down 34-17 with 5:29 to go in the first half, went on a 22-5 run over the next 10 minutes, holding the Red Raiders to 1-for-11 shooting and forcing five turnovers during that stretch. But they didn't take a lead until after regulation.

"We were not very effective in the first half," Barnes said. "They drove the ball at will and they went by anybody and everybody they wanted to go by... But we fought back and the press definitely helped us. There is no doubt about that."

Texas shot just 33.9 percent from the floor but outrebounded Texas Tech, 40-29, and was helped by the Raiders missing 17 free throws. The Longhorns, who beat Baylor, 79-70, in their last home game of the year Monday night, will look to extend their winning streak to three games next Wednesday. They haven't won three games in a row since victories over Mississippi State (Nov. 21), Sam Houston State (Nov. 27) and UT-Arlington (Dec. 1).

Texas will have to win the Big 12 tournament, which would mean extending that streak to six games, to earn a 15th straight NCAA Tournament berth.