With two departures from the Texas Longhorns backcourt from last year's team, Rick Barnes and company needed to sign some guards in the 2013 class and did so on Wednesday, receiving letters of intent from Demarcus Croaker, Isaiah Taylor, and Kendal Yancy.
Barnes shared his thoughts on each of the players.
Croaker is a 6'4, 175-pound wing from Orlando (Fl.) with the athleticism to jump out of the building:
Demarcus is a player who possesses the rare combination of high-level athleticism, ball skills and shooting touch. Like most freshmen, the challenge for Demarcus will be adapting to the rigors of our level. With continued work, he has the potential to become a complete player.
A borderline Rivals 100 prospect who may have been underrated as a senior, Croaker brings a variety of skills to the table, according to GoHornsGo90:
What does he do well? Well...pretty much everything. Most importantly, he's an insane scorer. Including dropping 46 earlier this season, which you can see highlights of here. Croaker is a veritable freak athlete (41-inch vertical) and will be on plenty of highlight reels throughout his tenure at Texas.
He's also a very good ball handler who could easily spend some time at the point if need be. I don't think I'd call him a combo guard, but he can definitely get into the lane and drop dimes when his teammates are open. Demarcus started out with a reputation as a pure slasher/athlete type, but his shot has improved enormously this season, to the point where he had a game where he went 7/7 from deep.
He has a sweet stroke, and is the rare three-level scorer nowadays that can score at the rim, from midrange, and from behind the arc. He's probably not a pure shooter quite yet, but his pull-up game is pure butter.
Potentially most important is the rumblings that the coaching staff views Croaker as having lockdown potential on defense, meaning he won't be riding the pine J'Covan Brown/Jordan Hamilton style with Barnes' incessant preference for defensive production over offensive production. This is backed up on his film, which shows a player that's lightning quick and extremely explosive both with the ball and on defense.
Simply put, if the desire to be a great defender is there, he'll be one. I apologize for the extremely vague description of his skill set, but from what I can tell, he honestly doesn't seem to have many tangible weaknesses from his highlight film.
Other than possibly Dogus Balbay, Croaker may be the most freakish athlete Texas has had at the guard position in the last 10 years. Looking forward to some of those highlight throwdowns.
A Cali native, the Taylor spent the last two years in Houston and is the pure point guard of the group and a player who could push Javan Felix for playing time next season:
Isaiah is a true point guard with excellent court vision and the ability to make other players around him better. He has terrific speed and quickness to go with exceptional ball-handling ability. Once he learns our system, he will bring tremendous value to our backcourt.
With tight handles, a sick crossover, and a penchant for no-look passes from the hip to teammates on the break, Taylor needs to spend some serious time in the weight room with Todd Wright over the summer and work on refining his jump shot, which is not currently an asset for him.
Another big guard at 6'4 and 195 pounds, it seems that Yancy may have dropped the Harris recently, as the Texas release doesn't include the hyphenated version of his last name. Known as House, Harris will bring some savvy to the backcourt at Texas:
Kendal is a tough, physical guard who has excellent ball skills and a good basketball IQ. He has the versatility to play all three guard positions, and he brings a winning mentality to our program.
According to PB's AAU friend, that winning mentality means that Harris can handle the sometimes abrasive personality of Rick Barnes:
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.
There's more great stuff in PB's scouting report, so make sure to check out the whole thing to find out about House's other superb basketball skills.
All told, the Longhorns missed on some top targets in this class, especially in the state of Texas and in the frontcourt, though the latter area should be solid with the return of every piece from the young interior last season.
And though it took until March for the 'Horns to add the two big pieces in Croaker and Yancy, the three will provide the backcourt help Texas needs now, especially with the size and athleticism that they have across the board.