In basketball recruiting, sitting without a single commitment in the upcoming class only a handful of months until Signing Day typically isn't a good sign, but the Texas Longhorns finally have a start to their 2014 recruiting class with Thursday's pledge from St. Louis (Mo.) Christian Brothers College small forward Jordan Barnett.
A 6'7, 180-pounder who plays for the same AAU team that once featured Bradley Beal and Ben McLemore, Barnett is a consensus four-star prospect ranked as the top player in Missouri for his class, as well as No. 106 nationally (Rivals has him No. 86) and 28th among all small forwards in the country. Prior to his commitment, he held offers from Butler, Florida, Kansas State, Michigan, Oklahoma State, and Purdue, among others.
And with the news that sophomore forward Ioannis Papapetrou is receiving interest from not one, but two top Euroleague teams, the odds of him completing his eligibility at Texas look worse and worse by the minute. If he does leave this season, the Longhorns will be short one of their top players, but having Barnett in the fold for 2014 at least reduces the potential long-term impact.
A long, lean athlete who needs to add some weight to maintain position in the college game, especially on the defensive glass, he can elevate easily in transition to finish plays with dunks and even shows some open-court ball-handling ability for his AAU team, though the general perception is that he needs to tighten up his handles. His jumpshot looks pure from his highlights, though he doesn't have an ideal high release point. Fortunately, his size should allow him to get it off against college defenders.
Overall, playmakers on the wing can be hard to come by in college basketball, but the flexibility they provide coaches in being able to attack smaller defenders off the dribble or shoot over them from the outside makes them extremely valuable, especially in going small without sacrificing rebounding ability.
As Texas and a host of other teams found out in 2003, there just aren't that many wing stoppers who can slow down someone like Carmelo Anthony -- at some point, it just comes down to the physical match ups. Now, Anthony has clearly proven himself an elite world-class scorer and Barnett is far from the prospect that Anthony was coming out of high school, but landing these types of players isn't always easy and in a time when few things are going right for Texas basketball, it's nice to have something to feel positive about.
Jordan Barnett '14 - St. Louis Eagles MIX (via iaelites)
Jordan Barnett Cbc Dunk Reel July 18th 21st 2012 (via Mike Moore)