The Texas Longhorns have a bit of a backcourt problem.
The Longhorns lost last season's leading scorer, J'Covan Brown, when the enigmatic shooting guard decided to bolt for the NBA. That was something coach Rick Barnes could plan for.
Now Texas also finds sophomore starting point guard Myck (pronounced Mike) Kabongo under investigation by the NCAA, which has raised questions about his relationship with Rich Paul, the agent of Miami Heat star LeBron James.
That came as a bit of a surprise.
The season starts Nov. 9 against Fresno State. While Kabongo hasn't been declared ineligible and is still allowed to practice with the team, the Longhorns must brace for the possibility that he might miss some games - or the season.
School officials have confirmed that Kabongo, who averaged 9.6 points and had a team-high 176 assists last season, has talked with NCAA investigators. The Longhorns have also taken the precaution of keeping him out of preseason scrimmages against Davidson and Gonzaga.
"It's all in the hands of the NCAA right now. I'm hoping like we all are,'' Barnes said. "Myck's worked really hard as a leader and brings a lot of energy every day. We'll just wait and see.''
Kabongo, a preseason all-Big 12 selection, could be the key to the season for a team that must get a lot from of its freshmen and sophomores if it expects to make a trip to its 15th consecutive NCAA tournament. Texas hasn't played beyond the first weekend of the tournament since losing in the regional final in 2008.
Kabongo can be electric with his speed, but also ran into foul trouble a lot last season and spent valuable minutes on the bench. If he is ruled ineligible, that could thrust freshman Javan Felix into the starter's role. He's a top recruit from New Orleans, but Barnes would like to have some experience at the point.
"It was kind of surprising,'' Felix said of the Kabongo investigation. "(But) it's not like I'm not prepared.''
Even with the uncertainty surrounding Kabongo, Barnes still knows a little more about his team at this point than he did a year ago when he was replacing all five starters. To be successful, Barnes said the Longhorns need more consistent scoring throughout the lineup this season.
"We relied on J'Covan so much because we just couldn't seem to find that second or third consistent scorer with our group last year,'' Barnes said.
Sophomore Sheldon McClellan could provide some of the scoring punch they need. McClellan helped push Texas to a crucial late win over Oklahoma that assured the Longhorns would finish above .500 in the Big 12. McClellan, who averaged 11.3 points last season, is the only player returning at Texas who averaged in double figures last season.
"He has a knack for putting the ball in the basket. I think a challenge for him will be that he's got to be able to do it day-in, and day-out,'' Barnes said. "He just needs to want to shoot the ball when he's open as opposed to trying to maybe mess with it a little bit too much dribbling or looking to overpass it.''
As usual, Barnes has crafted a tough nonconference schedule to help prepare his team for the rigors of the Big 12 and the postseason. The Big 12 is league where muscular forwards and guards pound on opponents every night and freshmen like Felix usually take a while to get used to the physical play.
The Longhorns will play in the Maui Invitational during Thanksgiving week, and will face Georgetown, North Carolina and Michigan State before Big 12 play starts against Baylor on Jan. 5.
The Texas Longhorns have a bit of a backcourt problem.
StOUt lives for Bedlam
To most people, Claremore’s Hannah Stout is a bubbly, warm-hearted dental hygenist with a priceless smile.
But, on Saturday’s in the fall, Stout is otherwise known as “Hannah Cabana” around legendary Oklahoma Sooner icons Barry Switzer, Thomas Lott and Mark Rodgers.
Taylor drains 6 treys, Lady Zebras clip Collinsville, 49-46
When it comes to shooting, the Claremore Lady Zebras would rather drain three pointers than free throws.
Claremore’s Monica Taylor converted four of her six treys in the second half for a game-high 18 points as the Lady Zebras held off Collinsville, 49-46 in the season opener Tuesday night at the Claremore High School Gym.
As the buzzer sounded, the Claremore Zebras found themselves in an unfamiliar place.
For the first time in two years, the Zebras were on the winning side of the scoreboard and pumping each other’s chests after their 43-29 season-opening victory over the Collinsville Cardinals.
Cards soar past Sperry
In a big Class 3A gun down, No. 3 Verdigris had more weapons than No. 6 Sperry.
In their home opener, the 2-0 Cardinals buried eight three-point shots and converted 21-of-23 free throws in rolling past the Pirates 69-54.
Battenfield, Hanslovan spark No. 4 Lady Cards past Sperry
Fourth-ranked Verdigris shot nearly 50 percent and forced Sperry into 22 turnovers, finally pulling away for a 73-41 home opening victory Tuesday night in Class 3A girls basketball.
CB Colvin playing hurt for Sooners
The pain comes and goes for Aaron Colvin.
The Oklahoma cornerback's injured shoulder might flare up while sitting in class, walking to a team meeting or hanging out with the guys. It hurts worse when it's cold and it's going to be frigid Saturday when No. 18 Oklahoma (9-2, 6-2 Big 12 Conference) plays at No. 6 Oklahoma State (10-1, 7-1).
Texas' Brown keeps going amid job speculation
Texas coach Mack Brown has had a running joke all week: He is the only coach in America playing for a conference championship while also shrugging off speculation that he could be replaced.
Missouri raises possibility of Pinkel extension
Missouri athletic director Mike Alden addressed the likelihood coach Gary Pinkel will be sought for the Washington opening, raising the possibility of a contract extension after the season.
No charges for Heisman hopeful Jameis Winston
Florida State quarterback and Heisman hopeful Jameis Winston will not face any charges in a sexual assault case, mostly because there were too many gaps in his accuser's story, a prosecutor said Thursday.
State Attorney Willie Meggs said the woman's memory lapses about the events last December were problematic and there was not enough evidence to win a conviction.
Bridgewater, No. 19 Louisville drops Cincinnati in OT
Teddy Bridgewater gave No. 19 Louisville a fantastic farewell to its Ohio River rivalry and its latest conference.
The elusive quarterback pulled off a couple of great escapes during a fourth-quarter rally, and the Cardinals made their farewell to the American Athletic Conference by beating Cincinnati 31-24 in overtime on Thursday night.
- More Sports Headlines
- StOUt lives for Bedlam