Texas bracing for life without Thompson or Hamilton

Will Anderson

The deadline for entering the NBA draft is Sunday, which means Longhorns Tristan Thompson and Jordan Hamilton have some decisions to make.

The Austin American-Statesman reported Thursday that sources close to Thompson indicated he would declare for the draft with an agent, but there has been no official word from either Thompson or the school as of press time. Thompson, a 6-foot-8-inch forward, is ranked as high as the mid-first round in some draft projections.

Hamilton, the team’s leading scorer from last season, is also listed as a possible first-rounder. The sophomore averaged 18.6 points per game in his first season as Texas’ primary playmaker.

Freshman Cory Joseph has also not indicated whether he will return next year or enter the draft.

If Thompson and Hamilton were to leave, a depleted returning roster and untested recruiting class would have to fill their spots. Without Thompson, Texas brings back just one post player who averaged more than five minutes a game — junior and defensive specialist Alexis Wangmene, who was good for 2.3 points and 2.3 rebounds per night in 2010-11.

The incoming freshman class would bring some relief at that position. Four-star recruit Jonathan Holmes from San Antonio is a 6-foot-8-inch forward who excelled in the low post in high school, and Kevin Thomas is another soon-to-be Longhorn big man. Without Thompson, both would be counted on by head coach Rick Barnes for early minutes.

If Hamilton also declares, Texas will lose 31.7 of its average point total from last season. Myck Kabongo — the latest in a line of Findlay Prep graduates that include Thompson, Joseph and Avery Bradley — is ranked the No. 2 point guard in his class and could fill a hole in the backcourt. Texas also welcomes four-star prospects Julien Lewis and Sheldon McClellan, a pair of perimeter shooters with good accuracy from beyond the arc.

There’s no clear replacement for either Thompson or Hamilton in either the returners or newcomers, meaning Barnes will have some decisions of his own to make if his star playmakers depart.