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Return to the 2006-07 Top 144 Preview

October 22nd, 2006

By Joel Welser

Broadcast Basketball


Texas Longhorns


Overall Rank: #17

Conference Rank: #3 Big 12


2005-06: 30-7, 13-3, 2nd

2005-06 postseason: NCAA


There is one player who has started one game in their career at Texas on this year’s roster.  Coach Rick Barnes will have his hands full adapting a young squad to life in the Big XII, but the talent of the incoming freshmen is amazing.  The growing pains will be tough and if the Longhorns are on the schedule, you’ll want to see them early in the season, because by the time January rolls around, Texas will be very good.


Who’s Out: The entire starting five of the Elite Eight squad is gone.   That would be LaMarcus Aldridge, P.J. Tucker and Daniel Gibson, who left early for the NBA, and seniors Brad Buckman and Kenton Paulino.  Forwards Mike Williams and Dion Dowell have opted to transfer.


Who’s In: This list looks like the McDonald’s All-American team.  D.J. Augustin is a quality passer and shooter and will battle for minutes at the point.  He’s not a terrific finisher at this stage in his career, but with his unselfishness, Augustin will spend most of his time looking for his teammates.  However, with his tremendous outside shooting ability, Augustin may be asked to spend some time at the two.  Shooting guards Harrison Smith and Justin Mason will get a chance to earn quality minutes.  Smith can use his strength to finish around the basket and can put up some big numbers in the scoring column.  Mason can play either guard spot and his tough defense should earn him some playing time.  Not that the incoming guards aren’t super talented, but it gets really good with the forwards.  Kevin Durant has been categorized as a one and done player.  There’s no need to worry about that yet, but it is a compliment to the abilities of the 6-9 wing.  Despite his size, Durant isn’t a post player, but has added some strength and bulk during the summer.  He can hit the long ball and get to the basket with ease and will be starting in November.  Fellow forward Damion James wants to play the three, but should be starting at the four, at least in name, this year.  At 6-7 and 227 pounds, James can handle the four on the defensive end.  On the offensive end, he may end up playing like another wing.  He is an athletic and exciting finisher and, with a little consistency on the outside shot, will be a great player.  Ian Mooney, a walk-on transfer, will add some emergency depth in the post, but Dexter Pittman and Matt Hill will see plenty of time under the basket.  Pittman arrived in Austin tipping the scales at 366 pounds.  Now listed at 315 pounds, the big man appears to have quelled the poor work ethic label and is ready to compete at a high level.  Pittman has great hands and can use his body to get to the glass or create space for his hook shot.  Hill is a good post scorer and has a nice touch on his shot.  The only knock on Hill is a lack of aggressiveness on both ends of the floor.


Who to Watch: A.J. Abrams started one game last year and should be starting at the point this year.  The 5-10 sophomore hasn’t had a chance to show his stuff yet, but now he will be the experienced leader on the court.  Junior J.D. Lewis and senior Craig Winder have the experience to battle for starting gigs early in the year.


Final Projection: Connor Atchley is the only returning frontcourt player.  As a freshman last year, the 6-9 center averaged 2.3 points and 1.4 rebounds.  Obviously the issue for the Longhorns is youth and inexperience.  The talent level is second only to Kansas in the conference.  Simply put, if the freshmen perform as well as their hype would expect, Texas is an NCAA team with legitimate aspirations of reaching the Sweet Sixteen.  If not, the bubble and the NIT await.  In the end, there is just way too much talent for Coach Rick Barnes to let his team slide out of the NCAAs.


Projected Post-season Tournament: NCAA


Projected Starting Five:

A.J. Abrams, Sophomore, Guard, 6.4 points per game

D.J. Augustin, Freshman, Guard, DNP last season

Kevin Durant, Freshman, Forward, DNP last season

Damion James, Freshman, Forward, DNP last season

Dexter Pittman, Freshman, Center, DNP last season


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