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Longhorns Reportedly Inquire About UTEP Transfer Arnett Moultrie

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Update: Some thoughts on Moultrie's departure from SBN's own Miner Rush, including a great perspective on why his numbers didn't improve as a sophomore. -- GoBR--

The Statesman reported on Wednesday that a source close to the basketball program said that Rick Barnes and staff inquired about UTEP transfer Arnett Moultrie, a 6-11 power forward who would have two years of eligibility remaining after sitting out a transfer season.

Moultrie averaged 10 points and 6.7 rebounds last season at UTEP playing alongside Derrick Caracter and declared for the NBA Draft before withdrawing his name. He then returned to school for a time before deciding to transfer, with some rumors of friction between Moultrie and new UTEP head coach Tim Floyd.

According to CBS Sports' Gary Parrish, the Longhorns are not the only team that has inquired about the talented forward -- teams like Kentucky, Memphis, and Tennessee have also made overtures, but Arkansas and Mississippi State are reportedly the frontrunners.

Despite having a somewhat disappointing sophomore season that saw Moultrie become more perimter-oriented with the addition of low-post threat Derek Character to the roster, the lanky, explosive forward is regarded as an NBA prospect due to his impressive skillset and will likely look to turn pro after his junior season.

As the picture to the right shows, Moultrie is skinny for his height at 225 pounds, but runs the floor extremely well for a big, making him a good fit for a Texas team that should push the tempo in 2010-2011 with Myck Kabongo at the point. A high motor and quick leaping ability that helps him as a rebounder further make him a good fit for Texas.

Besides his athleticism, Moultrie has some semblances of a low-post game, showing off a spin move and an up-and-under move, as well as a developing hook shot. However, Moultrie prefers to spend his time as a face-up player on the perimeter, where he uses his footspeed to beat slower power forwards off the dribble.

His perimeter game needs some work, as evidenced by his poor shooting from beyond the arc last season -- 22.5%, making only nine of 40 attempts. A major reason is that his soft touch is often negated by inconsistent mechanics, although he did improve his free-throw shooting from 54% as a freshman to 65% as a sophomore. A transfer year should help Moultrie refine his mid-range game, which shows potential, and perhaps even extend his effective range to the arc.

A year in the strength and conditioning program could do wonders for Moultrie, who has struggled at times both holding position around the basket and finishing around the rim through contact. Instead, Moultrie often avoided contact when attempting to finish in the lane, causing him to attempt lower-percentage floaters instead of layups.

Defensively, Moultrie had a sub-par freshman season, allowing opponents to get deep post position and often getting beat off the dribble due to a lack of above-average lateral quickness and poor technique, much like Jordan Hamilton as a freshman last season. For someone with his length, his shot-blocking ability is not as strong as might be expected because of his lack of timing and poor positioning.

Sitting out a season should greatly benefit Moultrie in terms of refining his game and increasing his strength. Good coaching should help him improve defensively to the point where is no longer a liability at times.

Until more news emerges, it's difficult to tell if the Longhorns will seriously be in the running for Moultrie. However, with no current bigs committed in the 2011 class and the graduations of Gary Johnson, Matt Hill and Clint Chapman after the coming season, as well as the possibility that Tristan Thompson could be one-and-done, there is the appeal of the potential for significant early playing time. If Moultrie decides that he wants to play closer to his hometown of Memphis, then Texas will probably fall out of the running.

The physical tools are there for Moultrie to become a major contributor wherever he ends up and the Longhorns look like an excellent fit with their style of play and a point guard coming in Myck Kabongo who can push the tempo and get the ball to Moultrie in a position to finish. Barnes also has a proven track record of putting players into the NBA and developing wing players -- major reasons why both Tristan Thompson and Jordan Hamilton decided to become Longhorns. Add in Todd Wright's ability to make his body NBA-ready and the ability to spend two summers playing pick-up games with the likes of TJ Ford, Kevin Durant, DJ Augustin, and other former 'Horns who now play in the NBA and Texas looks like a possible destination for the talented transfer.

Moultrie cleaning the glass, running the floor for USA U-19 team (via sepkgr)

A few clips here as well.