The Texas Longhorns look ready to lose their second-leading scorer in sophomore guard Sheldon McClellan, who has asked for his release in order to transfer, as broken by ESPN's Jason King.
The Houston Bellaire product saw his playing time seesaw over the course of the season, but was the second-leading scorer for the team and flashed All-Conference upside when he was on. In sum, McClellan was really the leading scorer, surpassed only late by the return of point guard Myck Kabongo, who appears set to jump to the NBA as well.
McClellan's decision to transfer explains the odd season-ending performance against Houston, in which he appeared to be a destructive combination of his two weaknesses -- both uninterested in taking good shots, but willing to shoot anyway. In a noticeable change from the rest of the season, McClellan didn't draw the quick hook from his head coach, instead receiving no hook at all.
It looked like both had given up and it was ugly, the type of performance that lingers on the palate, incapable of being cleansed.
Now the assignment of blame begins. McClellan certainly deserves his own fair share as he vacillated between poor shot selection at times and apparent indifference at others. Passivity, at the least, at many times.
The problem is that the struggle that went on between Barnes and McClellan ended with Barnes failing to press the proper buttons with his talented player. Where Barnes was able to win such struggles with Jordan Hamilton and J'Covan Brown, the hindsight afforded by this decision indicates that Barnes lost with McClellan.
So McClellan appears set to join a number of former players who seem to have left Texas without a high opinion of their former coach.
And while Sterling Gibbs and Jaylen Bond both transferred more because of the lack of available playing time, it's rare for a guy who was essentially the leading scorer to transfer.
Therein lies the problem -- while not being an especially nice person is pretty much a prerequisite for a successful coach, there seems to be mounting evidence that Barnes crosses the line and has alienated players who now have little interest in saying anything positive about Texas to potential recruits.
It's difficult to say how much of a tangible impact that has had on recruiting, but it's hard to ignore it as one of those undercurrents in a program that has struggled to find success in the tournament now for a number of years.
Missing the NCAA tournament in a year that was derailed for a number of reasons for which Rick Barnes deserves the benefit of the doubt isn't the heart of the problem. The heart of the problem is that Barnes seems like he is having difficulties reaching his players in a way that is highly detrimental to the ability of Texas basketball to reach the standards that he himself has set.
Right now, that's a familiar and clanging refrain when assessing the state of major Texas athletics.