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Last night we learned that in addition to losing Forward Jaylen Bond to a transfer, the Texas Men's Basketball team will also be losing Shooting Guard Sheldon McClellan as well, as he looks to transfer away from UT. McClellan's transfer should be seen as a red-flag, as he was the team's leading scorer for much of the season until Myck Kabongo returned. McClellan finished the season as the team's second leading scorer and best free-throw shooter, percentage wise. But towards the end of the season, he found himself in the notorious dog-house with Rick Barnes and decided to seek a place that would be a better fit for himself. With these two roster moves already done and possibly another 1 coming in the form of an NBA declaration, below are my initial reactions to the transfer news and thoughts on next season. Snap Judgements Losing McClellan The first name that popped into my head when I heard the news that McClellan would be transferring was Ioannis Papapetrou. When a guy who had as big of an impact in scoring, like McClellan, leaves a roster, that lack of scoring has to be picked up by someone. Though he doesn't always play shooting guard, Papi has the ability to score the ball in a number of ways and I'd love to see him take advantage of this opportunity and be a bigger part of the offense. Losing McClellan can hurt because of the points he put up. But McClellan was basically a jump-shooter. And he wasn't being utilized as best as he could. Before Kabongo hit the floor, the Texas offense revolved around a lot of players who couldn't score in the paint consistently. And that caused the ball to float around the perimeter until the shot-clock ran down and then a player, often McClellan, would be forced to shoot a heavily contested shot. That's not the ideal situation you want to put your shooters in and it was not maximizing his potential. I would have loved to seen McClellan and Kabongo on the floor together much more than they actually were. With Kabongo's ability to drive and dish, McClellan likely could have seen many more open jumpers this past season. Don't forget that Texas has another 6'4" shooting guard committed for the 2013 class. 4-star commit, Demarcus Croaker is on his way to Texas (as long as he stays committed) and will also be competing to fill the void left by Sheldon McClellan. And the fact that he is committed also likely played into McClellan's decision to transfer. In McClellan's mind he probably thought my playing time drastically decreased AND another talented shooting guard is committed, not to mention there are young players on the roster developing... I could see myself getting lost on the roster. You can't blame McClellan for leaving at all. So what about Julien Lewis? That is an interesting question and one I actually am not entirely sure about. Though he was the team's third leading scorer, he struggled to find a consistent role for Texas. He can shoot the ball from outside well, is active and scrappy on defense, but he isn't the best ball-handler. It will be very interesting to see where he lands on the depth chart and what his role will be next season. He played well in the last 4 games Texas had. Losing Bond After being one of the team's best rebounders last season, Bond never fully regained his dominance after he returned from his ankle injuries. Though he also provided some solid minutes here and there, the transition to a team without Bond had already begun as other players began eating into his minutes. Conner Lammert will continue to be a Barnes favorite and see playing time. He always seems to make the right play and his scoring improved a bit as the season went on. But Lammert is not the rebounder Bond was, and Texas' lack of rebounding is one reason they struggled as much as they did this past season. A couple of players need to step up in the rebounding department. His height and weight are almost identical to Jaylen Bond, but Jonathan Holmes' game is actually a bit different. Before his wrist injury, Holmes was a monster around the basket grabbing rebounds. But the similarities stop there between Bond and Holmes as Holmes displayed better scoring ability than Bond ever did. With the improved 3-point shot, Holmes his a physical forward that can score down low or step out for a three. Had he not been injured, I actually think he would have seriously flirted with the idea of declaring for the NBA. But UT fans should expect Holmes to be back next season, and there's no question he could be an impact player for the Horns on both ends of the floor. Camron Ridley undoubtedly did not have the season many of us expected. Once considered a 5-star before he hit the 40 acres, Ridley was never able to establish himself in the paint as a dominant presence. Though he did show some flashes of skill, his offensive game has to elevate past dunks and he has to be a better defender and rebounder if Texas wants to see any improvement in the paint. His biggest problem was being out of position too often. With how big he is, he should be able to control the paint with ease. Though he didn't have as much hype surrounding him as Ridley did, the 6'10" big man may be the best NBA prospect currently on the UT roster outside of Myck Kabongo. If anyone can pick up the rebounding slack, Ibeh should be very capable of doing so. He has nice athleticism to go along with his height and he needs to be a bigger presence protecting the rim and fighting for rebounds. IF Kabongo leaves... With Kabongo sitting the first 2/3 of the season, we saw what Javan Felix can do and what he can't do. He is a guy who can handle the ball well and run an offense decently. But unlike Kabongo, he lacks the ability to drive into the lane like many points guards today can. And with a team that is scarce is scoring around the paint, that can really hinder the ability of the offense. I like Felix and think he can give solid minutes. But the way this Texas team is built requires a point guard that can get into the lane, push the ball up the floor on fast breaks, and make plays. Felix hasn't shown he's the ideal guy for that role. Like Lewis, I'm very interested to see where Demarcus Holland fits in next year. Originally thought to be a red-shirt, Holland was forced to play this season once Kabongo was suspended. I like the effort he gives on the floor, but he's not a natural at either shooting guard or point guard. And if he wants to see his playing time increase rather than decrease, he will have to find his niche. That could come in the form of a tireless defender. Or if he improves his ball-handling, he could develop into an option at point guard that has the ability to slash to the basket. Either way, Holland's off-season will be all about finding a consistent role and developing certain skills. If Isaiah Taylor stays committed, I'm not entirely sure where he will fit in on the depth chart his first year. If Kabongo leaves, Texas will desperately need a guy who can push the ball up the floor and get to the rim in the half-court offense. If he can do that, the Taylor may play more than expected. Otherwise, I wouldn't expect him to see a ton of minutes barring injuries. Final Thoughts There's a lot of time between now and the start of next season. And Texas does have depth all across the roster. But if the team wants to improve certain players will have to step up in certain ways, mainly with interior scoring and rebounding. Otherwise Texas could be in store for another mediocre campaign much like the 2012-2013 season.
Shelly Mack has requested a transfer from the Texas basketball program, as we have all feared. It was obvious Rick Barnes and McClellan had issues most of the season but I never guessed McClellan would transfer. Arguably he was our best player this season. Kabongo is probably gone to the NBA and Jaylen Bond is transferring as well. Where does this leave the Texas basketball program? I have no idea but what I know is Sheldon was clutch as hell. And it doesn't sit well with me that he is leaving.