Richardson-Berkner point guard Kendal Yancy-Harris announced on Saturday his commitment to play basketball at Texas, becoming the third member of the Longhorns' 2013 recruiting class. As a senior, Yancy-Harris (whose nickname is "House") averaged 12.2 points, 6.5 rebounds and 8.1 assists per game, leading Berkner to the 5A state semis.
While in Austin for the state tournament, Yancy-Harris -- a former USC commit who abandoned his pledge after the Trojans foolishly fired Kevin O'Neil -- expressed his interest in taking an official visit to Texas, whose staff had been recruiting him hard since his decommitment. On Saturday, the Longhorns sealed the deal, making it an all guard class so far in 2013: Yancy-Harris, Isaiah Taylor, and Demarcus Croaker.
Kendal Yancy-Harris Scouting Report
With Sheldon McClellan's transfer and Myck Kabongo soon to announce his departure to play pro ball, the Longhorns desperately need some guard help, and the 2013 class should prove to be one of Barnes' best ever in that regard. While Isaiah Taylor is a pure point and Demarcus Croaker a slasher on the wing, Yancy-Harris slots in as a combo guard who can run the point, stroke it outside as a shooting guard, or penetrate and get into the lane.
I really like all three guards in this year's class, not only as players but as leaders. We've seen the importance of on-floor leaders to Rick Barnes' most successful teams, and Yancy-Harris is extremely impressive in that regard. After being asked an awkward question last week about playing for a program that had just lost McClellan and had struggled like the Longhorns did this year, Yancy-Harris wasn't fazed in the slightest, embracing the challenge as one he wanted to be responsible for fixing.
When I asked a friend of mine who coaches AAU in the Houston area about yancy-Harris, he gushed about his make up. "He's fearless and he won't get rattled by Barnes' coaching style."
Yancy-Harris is the brother of former Oklahoma State guard Terrell Harris (now with the Miami Heat) with a very developed body -- one of the stronger 6-4 high school seniors that you'll see. In terms of his game on the court, Yancy-Harris gets described as "explosive" a lot, and while that's hard to argue with (watch his highlights below), if I had to choose a single adjective to describe him it actually be smooth.
John Wooden used to say, "Be quick, but don't hurry," and Yancy-Harris clearly got that memo. Although not quite as crafty as Old Man J'Covan, he's significantly more athletic and possesses similarly fine tuned basketball instincts. There's gobs of tape out there of Yancy-Harris; watch all of it, and count how many times you see Yancy-Harris look like he isn't under complete control. His body control is elite, and unlike a player such as Kabongo who uses pure quickness, Yancy-Harris uses spacing, good angles, body positioning, and a strong first step to beat defenders.
Yancy-Harris is a more well-rounded and polished guard than Demarcus Croaker, but while he can fill it up when he gets hot, I don't see him as being as outstanding a pure scorer as Croaker projects to be. Yancy-Harris can stretch the defense with a smooth jump shoot that is technically very sound: he shoots from a solid square base, elevates vertically, and has a terrific high release point and wrist action you could showcase teaching a youth hoops clinic. The only aspect of his jump shot that looks problematic is the speed of his release, which looks slow to me and will need to accelerate at the next level. If he can preserve his mechanics while speeding up his delivery, he can be a 38%+ shooter from beyond the arc.
He compliments his solid shooting ability with impressive ability to score from 12 feet and in, demonstrating outstanding touch not unlike what we saw from Jevan Felix during his best moments this year. That strong mid-range game and enough strength to finish at the rim in traffic makes him a versatile scorer who projects as a 12-15 ppg player after a year or two.
He needs to develop his ability to use contact to get to the free throw stripe more often, but that should come with experience; he demonstrates excellent understanding of spacing, good vision, and a developed skill set. As far as other weaknesses, I also expect there to be an adjustment phase where some of the things he's been used to being able to do against mediocre defense lead him into trouble instead. That's to be expected, but is a reminder to remain patient as he acclimates.
On the other end of the floor, Yancy-Harris does a good job using his quick hands to generate turnovers but isn't so quick and agile that he projects as a shut down type defender. He should be solid, so long as he wants to be and is willing to work, which by all accounts shouldn't be an issue.
All in all, this is an important commitment that isn't a huge-impact pledge like Randle would have provided, but gives Texas another guard who can handle the ball and score. And, importantly, one who can provide on-court leadership for a team and program where it's currently lacking. There hasn't been much good news related to Texas basketball lately, but the commitments from three excellent guards -- all of whom are in my eyes underrated nationally -- provide a desperately needed source of optimism about the future.