Myles Turner will be a Longhorn.
I repeat: Myles Turner will be a Longhorn.
Yup, it's official: the uber-talented forward with game all over the court made his announcement on Wednesday afternoon during a televised press conference carried live on ESPNU at 3:00 pm CT. Turner selected Texas over finalists Kansas, Duke, Oklahoma State, Ohio State, SMU, and Texas A&M.
After missing out on the top recruits in a state that has been exploding with talent the past three years, Rick Barnes landed the Texas blue chipper he coveted in the class of 2014.
Barnes owes that success primarily to four factors.
First, the Longhorns head coach got things turned around on the court, utilizing a savvy pick up in the criminally underrated Isaiah Taylor to a resurgent 2013-14 season that saw Texas eclipse 20 wins, knock off Kansas at home, and return to the NCAA Tournament, where as a No. 7 seed they won their opening round match up with No. 10 Arizona State before falling to No. 2 seed Michigan in the Round of 32.
Second, as mentioned, Barnes achieved that success this year in part with a dynamic point guard (Taylor) with whom Myles Turner wants to play, but also in part on the back of a breakout season by big Cam Ridley, whose first- to second-year improvement was as substantial and impressive as any you'll ever see. Turner and Ridley have a solid relationship, and both Ridley himself and his play on the court validated Barnes, Todd Wright, and the Texas program.
Third, along with the current players, Barnes' high profile players from previous seasons were a factor in Turner's decision. The most substantial of those is Kevin Durant, whom Turner idolizes. When your sports hero urges you to go play where he played and tells you that you can achieve all your goals there, you listen.
And finally, with his program on the verge of crisis, Barnes undertook a critical self-evaluation, identified his in-state recruiting weakness, and addressed it with the hiring of Jai Lucas, giving him a tie to the Godfather of Texas Basketball, John Lucas, with whom Myles Turner trained. Hey, if you gotta kiss the ring, then by God figure out how to kiss the damn ring. Barnes did, and because of it Myles Turner is a Longhorn.
I wrote back on March 26th that I thought Turner was ours to lose, and that unless something went wrong during his visit that this story was going to have a happy ending.
Well, it's over... and I'm thrilled.
Hook 'em? Hook 'em.
Welcome to Austin, Myles!