Myck Kabongo is still in the place where his once bright career flatlined.
But he’s trying to get back into a position where he can be recognized for his talents, not his short-comings.
A former Longhorn basketball star, Kabongo is working to find his way onto an NBA roster with the Austin Toros, a subsidiary basketball franchise of the San Antonio Spurs and a member of the NBA’s Developmental League. It’s been nearly a year since Kabongo’s tenure as a Longhorn ended in disappointing fashion, but he hasn’t lost his edge or desire to be great.
Kabongo, like former Longhorns Cory Joseph and Tristan Thompson, was a highly touted Canadian-born prospect that turned his eyes to Texas after a successful high school campaign at Findlay Prep in Henderson, Nev.
Stepping onto the 40 Acres, Kabongo had the size, speed, vision and charisma to become one of the best point guards in the country. But, after a rocky freshman season, Kabongo’s upward trajectory was struck by a 23-game NCAA suspension for accepting impermissible benefits from NBA mega-agent Rich Paul.
“It was just tough sitting down and not being able to play for something. That was unfortunate,” Kabongo said. “My situation was pretty weird, and my whole thing was just pursuing something that I love doing.”
While at Texas, Kabongo turned the ball over 23 percent of the time and connected on only 40 percent of his field goal attempts. Following his sophomore season, Kabongo declared for the NBA draft, only to go undrafted.
Kabongo is now working with the Toros to become the type of point guard coaches covet: a floor general.
“A great point guard takes care of the ball,” Kabongo said. “They can do it all. They can play defense. They can change the tempo of the game.”
Kabongo appears to be making progress, hitting 44 percent of his shots this season, and turning the ball over just more than two times per game. According to Kabongo, consistency remains the biggest obstacle.
“One game I have a great game, and the next game I have a so-so game,” Kabongo said. “As I’m learning along the way, it’s just finding my niche and, when I find it, just sticking with it.”
Playing so close to where he went to school, Kabongo said he stays in touch with every player on the Longhorns’ roster. But Kabongo sees the Longhorns as a reminder of what he aims to achieve.
“Right now, I feel like I’m still in college. I feel like I’m in my junior year, and the only thing is I’m not showing up to class and getting paid a little bit on the side,” Kabongo said.
Kabongo knows he still possesses the traits of hard work and athletic ability that made him a highly touted prospect, and those skills have the opportunity to drive him to the NBA. After a recent practice he tweeted, “Can’t wait for my time to come back around.”