Roger Clemens

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

The $9 million goal set for creating a baseball enhancement project for the Longhorns is now one step closer to being fulfilled.

On Tuesday, Texas athletic director Chris Del Conte announced that Roger Clemens, former Longhorn pitcher and seven-time MLB Cy Young Award-winner, and his wife, Debbie, pledged a $1 million donation to the Longhorns’ baseball program. Clemens, who was a member of the 1983 national championship team, played two seasons for Texas and compiled a 25–7 record on the mound.

“On my way to a 24-year career in the major leagues, I can say for me, it started right here at the University of Texas,” Clemens said. “When I was at Texas, we had the best facility in the nation. Now with the addition of the indoor complex and training facility, it will once again be the best place to play, work out and take your game to the next level.”

Clemens has had all four of his sons go through Texas in some shape or fashion. His youngest two, Kacy and Kody, played on the 2017 team together. Kacy was the Longhorns’ team and offensive MVP last year. He was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in the eighth round of the 2017 MLB Draft. Kody, meanwhile, is currently the 2018 team’s most lethal player and a midseason All-American.

Texas is currently the only team in the Big 12 without an indoor baseball training facility, but expect that to change with this donation and potentially more to follow.

Clemens gets lucky

Roger Clemens, who has won 350 some-odd ballgames, just got the biggest ‘W’ of his life.

With the prosecution’s balk last week — the federal judge said the mistake was one a first year law student wouldn’t make — Clemens gets to walk, scotch free.

This isn’t to say the former Longhorn pitcher would have been found guilty if the federal prosecutors didn’t show the jury inadmissible evidence, the grounds for the mistrial. But look at the guy, and look at the evidence. He probably would have. In any proper trial, without foolish prosecution mistakes, Clemens is probably guilty. This also doesn’t necessarily mean that he’s innocent, either, because this looked like a case that would bring the Rocket back to earth — the needles that had Clemens’ DNA and anabolic steroids and the testimonies of ex-trainer Brian McNamee and former teammate Andy Pettitte.

He might be forever classified as one of the most unpopular players ever, one who had countless problems with opposing players as well as teammates, received more negative press than good, and had will-he-or-won’t-he retire sagas in the mold of Brett Favre. He has been linked to multiple other women while married, including one woman who claimed to have a 10-year adulterous relationship with Clemens when she was 15. He arrogantly put a little bit of himself into each of his kids, giving each one of them a name that begins with K, for the strikeouts he was known for. He even said this about Japanese and Korean fans at the 2006 Baseball World Classic:

“None of the dry cleaners were open, they were all at the game, Japan and Korea.”

Nobody really liked Clemens before the steroid allegations began bubbling up around 2007 or so. And now most people hate him.

Why should he care? It’s not like he’s ever been totally image-conscience. Clemens’ goal, like most other ballplayers, is to end up in the Hall of Fame. Without any absolute charges, he has every right to now make it. This will outrage those who cry foul, that he used an unfair advantage to get an upper hand. But they won’t have the law backing them up.

For those who may care about this school’s athletic legacy, the mistrial was a good thing. Clemens will become the school’s first member of the Baseball Hall of Fame. The column I wrote a couple of weeks ago saying that Clemens had lost his shot at the title of Texas’ “best ever” because of steroids is now obsolete. Climb back up the pantheon, Rog.

In 2013, Clemens will become eligible for the Hall of Fame, as will Barry Bonds and Sammy Sosa — should be a fun voting process. If voters allow themselves to look past the “possibility” that Clemens used steroids and that there is no court decision that said he actually did, then he’ll make it in. You can imagine how many will be fully against it, who will stand up and cry, “You can’t be in the Hall, you juiced!”

And then you can picture Clemens, smug grin and all, retorting:

“Prove it.”
 

Column

For the better part of nine weeks, Roger Clemens was on the hook for what would have been the biggest loss of his career.

In the ongoing war that MLB and Congress have decided to wage against performance-enhancing drugs, Clemens was the most recent player to have his association with PEDs called into question. Clemens had become a veritable scapegoat that for all intents and purposes, was meant to shoulder the blame for years of rampant drug use in MLB by a myriad of players not named Clemens.

But like he had done so many times before in his storied 24-year MLB career, he came away unscathed and his team walked away with a win. Only this time Clemens, playing for himself and family, won back his reputation and perhaps a future induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

Monday evening Clemens was acquitted on all six counts of lying to Congress about his alleged use of performance-enhancing drugs. The verdict brings to an end another tax dollar-draining investigation of performance-enhancing drugs in sport, and at its conclusion we’re left wondering what the hell a PED even is.

The fact is, Congress and MLB don’t know either.

OK, that’s not entirely true. They have a general idea about what should and shouldn’t be put into an athlete’s body so as to not create an unfair advantage, but they’re doing a terrible job of enforcing the ban on PEDs.

To say this is just a problem that exists solely in MLB would be naive, if not completely false.

As long as one player a year in any sport is suspended for using PEDs, there are hundreds, maybe even thousands of others doing the exact same thing. The only difference is they’re either masking the drugs incredibly well or they are taking something that is yet to show up on mandatory, albeit random drug tests.

The first thing that comes to mind when PEDs are mentioned are steroids, but they only constitute a small percentage of the drugs athletes around the world use to get a leg, or arm, up on their competition.

Drugs like stimulants, painkillers, sedatives and diuretics are used, and may even pose a bigger threat to the athletes that use them. While steroids facilitate faster muscle growth and decrease healing time between injuries, painkillers can increase an athlete’s pain threshold beyond normal limits and stimulants can drastically improve a player’s focus and intensity.

Used in moderation, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with athlete’s taking legal painkillers to ease back pain or any other nagging injury. It’s when these drugs are abused that they become performance-enhancers.

The more we delve into the “benefits” athlete’s receive from taking these drugs, the line between what is serving as a performance-enhancer and what is being used as part of a normal supplemental regimen begins to blur.

Clemens had already admitted to using the anti-inflammatory drug Vioxx before it was taken off the market in 2004 amid concerns that it may cause adverse cardiovascular effects in long-term users. Like any other drug on the market, Vioxx was approved by the FDA, but its long-term effects had not yet been documented.

This raises the question of what PEDs do to an athlete’s body over time. Will there be a population of aging, once-great athletes that can’t walk by the age of 70 due to the harming effects these drugs have on one’s body? The reality is that no one knows.

But various studies have shown them to have significant degenerative effects on an athlete’s body and mind. Cases of hypertension, immune system and liver damage and increased cholesterol levels have all been linked to prolonged abuse of PEDs by athletes.

There’s no easy way to enforce an outright ban against any and all drugs in sports. Athletes, like normal people, have issues with their bodies that may require clinical aid, and what’s legal to ingest or inject one day could be deemed illegal the next.

Looking ahead, it may be best to approach this whole situation with a more laissez-faire attitude.

Players within MLB, the NFL or any other major sporting body have already reached the pinnacle of their respective sports, so why not let them do what they want to their bodies? And isn’t the entire point of sports to provide entertainment to the masses? If entertainment is what we want, then why not have the biggest, baddest and possibly unhealthiest athletes performing to the absolute fullest of their potential?

These aren’t questions easily answered, but they do provide us with the opportunity to discuss these issues and find ways to promote healthier lifestyles in all levels of sport.

We may never know exactly what drugs Clemens took, if any, or how his ex-trainer Brian McNamee plays into the case, but if Clemens is as innocent as he claims, it could be in his best interest to speak out against drug use in sports and take action to abolish it all together.

If successful, it could be his crowning achievement, and would dispel any rumors of him not making it to Cooperstown with the rest of baseball’s all-time greats.

WASHINGTON— Roger Clemens has been acquitted on all charges by a jury that decided he didn’t lie to Congress when he denied using performance-enhancing drugs.

Jurors returned their verdict Monday after close to 11 hours of deliberation. The outcome brings an end to a 10-week trial that capped an expensive, five-year investigation into one of the greatest pitchers in the history of baseball.

The 49-year-old pitcher was accused of perjury, making false statements and obstructing Congress when he testified at a deposition and at a nationally-televised hearing in Feb. 2008. The charges centered on his repeated denials that he used steroids and human growth hormone during his 24-year career.

The verdict is the latest blow to the government’s pursuit of athletes accused of drug use.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

WASHINGTON— Roger Clemens’ lawyers tore into the prosecutors’ case against the former pitching great during closing arguments Tuesday, attacking the government for bringing the matter to court in the first place and mounting one last assault against Clemens’ chief accuser.

“This is outrageous!” said attorney Rusty Hardin, his face reddening as he pounded the podium.

Both sides received two hours to sum up their arguments before a jury of eight women and four men that will decide whether Clemens lied to Congress in 2008 about performance-enhancing drugs and several related matters.

“He chose to lie; he chose to mislead; he chose to provide false statements, to impede Congress’ legitimate investigation,” prosecutor Gil Guerrero said. “Now it’s your turn to hold him accountable on every single count. You are the final umpires here.”

Clemens is charged with perjury, making false statements and obstructing Congress. The heart of the charges center on his repeated denials that he used steroids or human growth hormone. Jurors were expected to begin deliberations later Tuesday, following 26 days of testimony over more than eight weeks.

“When you take that oath, you’ve got to tell the truth,” Guerrero said in a packed courtroom that included Clemens’ wife and four sons.

Guerrero accused Clemens of coming up with a “cover story” about the injections received from his former strength coach, Brian McNamee. Clemens told Congress the injections were for vitamin B12 and the local anesthetic lidocaine, but McNamee testified that he injected the pitcher with steroids and human growth hormone.

Guerrero said Clemens, one of the most successful pitchers of his generation and a winner of an unprecedented seven Cy Young Awards, told the lies “so as not to tarnish his name.”

Clemens’ lawyers spent much of the trial attacking McNamee’s credibility, and even McNamee acknowledged that details of his story evolved over time. During closing, Hardin produced a chart titled: “Brian McNamee’s testimony is admittedly not credible.” The chart included more than two dozen times in which Hardin said McNamee either lied outright or said something that resulted from a “mistake” or “bad memory.”

“Saying that Brian McNamee lies zero times,” Hardin said, “is kind of like calling the Grand Canyon a ditch.”

Guerrero conceded that McNamee is a “flawed man.”

“We’re not asking you to even like him,” Guerrero said. “Brian McNamee did a lot of things that aren’t nice, and we know that.”

But, Guerrero argued, that made McNamee the perfect partner for Clemens’ alleged use of steroids and human growth hormone, substances that Clemens wouldn’t be able to receive from, say, a team doctor or head athletic trainer.

“Brian McNamee would do whatever Roger Clemens wanted,” Guerrero said. Later, Guerrero said Clemens tossed McNamee “by the wayside.”

Guerrero honed in on one defense witness, Clemens’ wife, Debbie. She testified that she had received a shot of human growth hormone from McNamee without Clemens’ knowledge, contradicting McNamee’s version that the pitcher was present for the shot. Guerrero said it stretched credibility to believe that Debbie Clemens allowed McNamee to come into their master bathroom without her husband’s knowing about it. One of the false allegations Clemens is charged with is that his wife was injected with human growth hormone without his prior knowledge.

The prosecutor said that Clemens should have told McNamee, “What are you doing in my master bathroom with my wife?!”

The reason he didn’t, Guerrero said, was that “he was there that day.”

The prosecutor also said that another false statement to Congress, about whether Clemens was at a pool party hosted by then-teammate Jose Canseco on June 9, 1998, was important because it occurred near the time the government alleges Clemens began taking steroids.

He noted that Debbie Clemens admitted during her testimony that the family stayed at the Canseco house the night before.

“It’s not just the party, folks,” Guerrero said. “He was there the whole time!”

Prosecutors have connected Clemens’ alleged attendance at the party to steroid use in vague terms: McNamee testified he saw Clemens talking at the party to Canseco, identified to the jury as a steroid user, and a third man, just days before Clemens allegedly asked McNamee for a first injection of steroids.

Hardin was indignant that the government would even ask for a felony conviction centered around whether Clemens was at someone’s house on a particular day. He said some of Clemens’ wayward statements to Congress simply came from a man trying his best to remember.

“He’s a Cy Young baseball player,” Hardin said. “Not a Cy Young witness. ... He’s a human being just like everyone else in here.”

Hardin again produced a map showing that the government conducted 235 interviews with 179 people involving 93 federal agents or officers — all in the name of trying to find more evidence that Clemens used steroids and human growth hormone.

“Not one single blankety-blank piece of evidence after all of this effort. ... Not one single bit of evidence for four-and-a-half years of anybody other than Brian McNamee connecting Roger Clemens to steroids and HGH,” Hardin said. “My God, if you’re going to go to this kind of effort to prove this man lied to Congress, you’d better come home with some kind of bacon. Not a zilch!”

Earlier Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton said he would allow jurors to consider the alleged false statement about Clemens’ alleged presence at Canseco’s house, although the judge indicated he might reconsider the matter if there’s a guilty verdict because of questions as to its relevance.

“I will permit it to go the jury, although I have some concerns,” Walton said before jurors entered the room.

Guerrero also tried to bolster the testimony of former Clemens teammate Andy Pettitte, who testified that Clemens said he had used human growth hormone — but then agreed under cross-examination it was fair to say there was a “50/50” chance he misunderstood Clemens.

“He didn’t want to testify against his friend,” Guerrero said. “No way. He played with him ... They were almost brothers.” The prosecutor said that Pettitte “was jumping at the opportunity under cross-examination to say maybe 50/50.”

Clemens’ other lawyer, Michael Attanasio, told the jury that Pettitte’s “50/50” memory “is not evidence of anything” and shouldn’t be considered.

Attanasio also attacked the physical evidence produced by McNamee, who said he saved the needle and other waste from a 2001 steroids injection of Clemens and stored it in and around a beer can for some six years. Some of the waste was shown to have Clemens’ DNA.

“There’s no doubt,” Attanasio said, “the medical garbage is garbage.”

Argued Guerrero: “If McNamee was trying to fabricate this evidence, don’t you think he would have done a better job of it?”

After Hardin’s presentation, the court recessed for lunch, and Clemens and Hardin embraced for several seconds. Attanasio hugged Debbie Clemens a few feet away.

Clemens walked down the hallway with his four sons in tow, with one of the sons draping his arm around his father.

Only half an inning had been played before the fans at Disch-Falk Field rose in a standing ovation.


It had been nearly 30 years since Roger Clemens took to the mound in a Longhorns uniform but the two-time All-American and seven-time Cy Young Award winner toed the rubber in his vintage Texas jersey again Saturday. Clemens, who went 25-7 in two seasons for the Longhorns and helped them capture the 1983 College World Series title, retired Texas in the first inning while fanning the first two batters he faced.


“It's pretty cool to get a chance to face [Clemens]. It's the chance of a lifetime,” sophomore outfielder Mark Payton said, who flew out to center field against Clemens to end the top of the first. “He threw [Cohl Walla and Taylor Stell] two good sliders late in the at-bat and that's why I wanted to jump out on his fastball. He's got good movement.”


Clemens was one of nine alumni pitchers to throw scoreless innings Saturday afternoon, as the alumni team he and former Longhorns star Brooks Kieschnick coached, took down the current Texas baseball squad, 2-0.


“Getting to catch Roger Clemens was something pretty special,” Cameron Rupp said, a catcher with the Philadelphia Phillies who went 2-for-3. “Seven Cy Youngs, strikes out a million people, he's got good stuff and he's 45-years-old.”


The offense came from an unlikely source, as recently traded San Diego Padres closer Huston Street sparked a two-run eighth-inning rally. Street sat down three hitters in a row in the second inning but returned to the contest at second base in the bottom of the sixth inning, cleanly fielding a routine ground ball and throwing the runner out at first.


“I came into the game planning to throw no more than 10 pitches,” Street said. “But I just came out here to have fun. It's such a fun game to come back to be a part of and be a part of baseball, having fun with the guys, passing on the tradition because when those guys cross over these lines, they're going to emulate the actions they see.”


In the top of the next frame, Street grounded out to shortstop, which should have been his only plate appearance. But the 2002 College World Series MVP batted twice out of order, including in the eighth inning when he singled into center-field and scored the first run on a Kevin Keyes RBI single. Kyle Russell tacked on another run by driving in Tant Shepherd with a single of his own.


“I'll take it,” Street said, whose last hit in a meaningful game came nearly a decade ago during his junior year at Texas. “I don't pretend to be a hitter. I'm not trying to be a hitter. Sometimes, you swing the bat and a swinging bat is dangerous. The other guys drove me in and I'm happy.”

Preview

Senior Sam Stafford is returning for the Longhorns despite being drafted by the New York Yankees. He will play during the alumni game.

Photo Credit: Andrew Edmonson | Daily Texan Staff

Roger Clemens won 25 games on the mound for Texas between the 1982 and 1983 seasons. This weekend, he’ll try to win one from the Disch-Falk Field dugout.

Saturday marks Fan Appreciation Day for Longhorns baseball, and the Alumni Game is the main attraction. The former Texas ballplayers have had a tough time recently, losing the last three Alumni Games to the team of current players by a combined score of 12-3. But Clemens, who is set to coach this year’s crop of former Longhorns, will try to turn that around this year.

Among those at Clemens’ disposal will be four players that helped Texas take down the Alumni team in 2011 and make their 34th appearance in the College World Series, a Division I record — pitchers Cole Green and Andrew McKirahan, along with shortstop Brandon Loy and first baseman Tant Shepherd. All four were selected in the first 24 rounds of the MLB Draft last June.

Several established major-leaguers will also be in Austin this weekend to take on the Longhorns. Cincinnati Reds center fielder and three-time All-American Drew Stubbs, who hit 15 home runs and stole 40 bases last season, is on the Alumni squad’s roster. Huston Street, 2002 College World Series MVP who has saved 178 games in six big-league seasons, will play in the Alumni Game again. Tampa Bay reliever J.P. Howell, who, like Clemens, won 25 games in two seasons for the Longhorns, will also toe the rubber for the Alumni team Saturday.

As for the group that faces the Alumni squad, Texas brings back six members of its lineup and two exceptional pitchers in Sam Stafford and Corey Knebel. Stafford, who went 6-2 and posted a 1.77 ERA in 2011, was drafted by the New York Yankees in the second round last year but didn’t sign with them. Knebel tied a school record set by Street with 19 saves as a freshman last season. The sophomore closer and third baseman Erich Weiss, who led the Longhorns with a .348 batting average and 45 RBI in his first season at Texas last year, were named National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association Preseason All-Americans last month.

Fan Appreciation Day festivities begin at 10:30 a.m. with a 90 minute autograph session and ends with the Alumni Game, which is slated to start at 1 p.m.

Printed on Friday, January 27 as: Alumni, current team face off at annual game

Former Major League pitcher Roger Clemens, left, and his attorney Rusty Hardin, right, leave federal court in Washington on Thursday after the judge declared a mistrial in his perjury trial after prosecutors showed jurors evidence that the judge had ruled out of bound. ClemensÂ’ mistrial marks the second high profile mistrial in cases pending against baseball players suspected of steroid use.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

NEW YORK — Seems you can’t put a baseball star on trial without a mistrial.

Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens remain perfectly bookended, each with seven major awards, one mistrial and no guilty verdict assured of sticking.

Victor Conte, whose Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative sparked the government investigations of drugs and athletes, has had enough.

“It’s a huge waste of federal taxpayer dollars at this point,” he said Thursday during a telephone interview with The Associated Press. “I don’t know the tab, but probably tens of millions of dollars at this point.”

Three months and a day after Bonds walked out of a San Francisco court room following a three-week trial and a muddled verdict that could result in a retrial, Clemens hustled out of a Washington, D.C., court room when a judge ruled federal prosecutors botched their case on Day 2, saying they made a mistake unworthy of a “first-year law student.”

As baseball’s gray eminence, Yogi Berra, would say, “it’s like deja vu all over again.”

When facing off against baseball players and their best-in-the-business legal teams, the Justice Department has struggled. Conte, the BALCO president, was sentenced to four months in prison and four months’ home confinement after pleading guilty in 2005 to one count of steroid distribution and one count of money laundering. Bonds was a BALCO client, its most famous.

Conte has two points to make on Clemens.

“Let me just say it’s my opinion and only my opinion that Roger Clemens is guilty,” he offered.

But that doesn’t mean he thinks it should be a criminal matter.

“I believe that there are higher and better tasks than these trophy hunts of trying to take these big-name athletes and make examples of them,” Conte said. “Regardless of whether or not I think he’s guilty or not, we’ve reached a point where enough is enough and it’s time to move on. Back in 2003 or when they brought the case against myself and Barry Bonds, that was a different economic climate than it is today, post 2008.”

When IRS Special Agent Jeff Novitzky, surfing through BALCO’s trash in 2002 or 2003, found a photograph of Conte and Bonds together in the magazine Muscle & Fitness, it sparked a legal pursuit that’s still ongoing.

Like a Rube Goldberg machine, one led to another. The BALCO investigation led to the book “Game of Shadows.” A week after the book was published in March 2006, baseball Commissioner Bud Selig hired former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell to investigate steroids.

Mitchell published his report in December 2007, implicating Clemens based on statements from the pitcher’s former trainer, Brian McNamee, who was forced to cooperate by federal agents after he was tied to steroids by former Mets clubhouse attendant Kirk Radomski. Clemens’ denials over the following week prompted a congressional committee to ask the pitcher and McNamee to testify, leading to a February hearing where Clemens repeated that he had never used performance-enhancing drugs. The hearing was followed by a referral to the Justice Department, a grand jury investigation and an indictment last August.

The federal government charged the seven-time Cy Young Award winner with one count of obstruction of Congress, three counts of making false statements to Congress and two counts of perjury. Now, the government faces a Sept. 2 hearing when it likely will try to persuade U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton to allow a retrial.

Across the country, a different set of prosecutors face an Aug. 26 hearing when Bonds’ lawyers will argue that U.S. District Judge Susan Illston should throw out the one conviction against the seven-time Most Valuable Player — that he obstructed justice when he gave an evasive answer to a grand jury in December 2003.

Bonds’ prosecutors haven’t decided whether to retry the three hung counts. The jury couldn’t come to a unanimous verdict on charges he made false statements when he denied using steroids and human growth hormone and said he allowed only doctors to inject him. But it convicted him of giving an evasive statement when asked whether his trainer, Greg Anderson, ever gave him “anything that required a syringe to inject yourself with?”

Bonds’ rambling reply stated that “I became a celebrity child with a famous father.” His lawyers argue that he can’t be convicted of that, partly because moments later he was asked “Did either Mr. Anderson or Mr. Conte ever give you a liquid that they told you to inject into yourself” and Bonds responded with a simple: “No.”

Just before closing arguments, one of Bonds’ lawyers, Dennis Riordan, addressed the possibility of a conviction on the allegedly evasive statements contained in the jury instructions, saying it “would be utterly a farce.”

In the view of Conte, prosecutions of baseball stars has become pointless.

“I just think it’s time for those that make these types of decisions to make a higher and better use of federal taxpayer dollars,” he said.

Walton also had the economics on his mind.

“We’ve expended a lot of your taxpayer’s money to reach this point,” he told the jurors before sending them home. Derek Jeter, like many, is tired of the wrangling with no end.

“I’m no legal expert but you want it to be behind him,” he said. “Obviously, the more attention that’s paid to that, it’s just negative for the game in general.”

Kevin Durant answers questions from the media at his basketball camp Saturday afternoon. Durant has kept busy despite the recent onset of a lockout in the NBA.

Photo Credit: Andrew Edmonson | Daily Texan Staff

Make no doubt about it — Texas is a school that prides itself on the players it produces in its historic football and baseball programs.

But the likes of Earl Campbell, Ricky Williams, Bobby Layne and Vince Young, and baseball stars Roger Clemens, Burt Hooton and Huston Street might have to make room atop the school’s professional pantheon because Kevin Durant, all 22 years and 230 lanky pounds of him, is about to supplant them all.

This might sound like jumping the gun on a guy who has been in the NBA for just four years, but the way things are going, Durant should end up as the school’s greatest athletic export.

In four years with Seattle and Oklahoma City, he has won Rookie of the Year, has been a two-time NBA All-Star, has twice made an appearance on the All-NBA First Team, was the MVP of the 2010 FIBA World Championships and has won the league’s scoring title two years running, making him the youngest ever to do so.

When Durant was drafted at No. 2 by the SuperSonics — who would later move to OKC and be renamed the Thunder — the team was coming off a previous 31-51 season. He now has them looking like heavyweights for years to come after a surprise trip to the Western Conference Finals.

“Experience is everything and we gained a lot of experience in getting to the conference finals,” he said Saturday at his basketball camp.

Durant will tack on a few more scoring titles and will work his way up the all-time scoring list. His unquenchable desire to improve and to win — he says he trains almost every day of the year — will make him a Hall of Famer.

Former Longhorn pitcher Roger Clemens — 354 major league wins, two-time World Series champ, seven Cy Young Awards, 11-time All-Star, and the 1986 MVP — had this “best from Texas” thing in the bag before allegations of steroid use tainted his legacy. Vince had a shot before things went south in Nashville. Ricky just wanted to smoke pot.

You could make arguments for Earl Campbell or Bobby Layne, as long as you consider that Earl took so many hits he only lasted in the NFL for eight seasons and that Layne played in a time of such minimal media coverage that half the casual sports fans at Texas have only a vague idea of who he is.

That a basketball player could end up being the professional pride of this University, where they used to say fall football and spring football were the only two sports that mattered, would have been scoffed at a mere 10 years ago. But T.J. Ford became the pied piper for star players to attend Texas, and Durant followed suit and compiled an outstanding freshman season, putting up a 26-point, 11-rebound per-game line and winning the Naismath Award, the Wooden Award, the Oscar Robertson Trophy, the Adolph F. Rupp Trophy — sorry if this is getting repetitive — the NABC Division I Player of the Year Award and was named the AP College Player of the Year.

“T.J. did something to put the program on the map, and then Kevin nationalized the program because he’s from Washington D.C.,” said incoming point guard Myck Kabongo, a five-star recruit from Canada who was a guest at Durant’s basketball camp this weekend.

Durant has now turned himself into a national brand, with the Nike and Gatorade sponsorships, the backpack, and his uncanny style of play — a 6-foot-9 swingman with a 7-foot-5 wingspan, he can get his shot off whenever he wants. And he hardly ever misses.

If you like to dream big, then maybe even forget the whole “best from Texas” argument — at this rate, Durant could end up as one of the best players in the NBA’s history.

Kabongo declined to say who, between T.J. and Durant, was Texas’ best ever basketball player — maybe out of respect for the point guard brethren — but he did label Durant “phenomenal” and a “trend setter.”

“Trend breaker” might be a better way to describe him. After all, this is supposed to be a football school.