Ibeh content with Longhorns’ roster situation heading into next season

Nick Cremona

A quick glance at Texas’ roster reveals one glaring weakness — an overall lack of size, or height to be more specific. If that lack of height has been a weakness this year, it has the potential to become a festering wound this time next season. The Longhorns will lose two players over 6-foot-7 at the conclusion of this year as Clint Chapman and Alexis Wangmene will both have graduated. That leaves a big developmental gap at the four and five position for the Longhorns.

Assuming freshmen Jaylen Bond and Jonathan Holmes stick around, that leaves Texas with two, and only two, players over 6-foot-4 for 2012. Neither Bond nor Holmes have been spectacular, but then again, they’ve only been playing collegiate basketball for two months. Holmes has the potential to become a reliable post option, but Bond’s game lends itself to more of a hybrid wing-type player. Thus explains the Longhorns’ need for a legitimate post player that can lay the foundation for this extremely young crop of players.

That’s where Prince Ibeh figures in to the mix.

“I chose Texas because of the relationship the coaches built with me and the roster situation,” said the 6-foot-10 center from Garland.

Ranked as the No. 10 center in the state of Texas, Ibeh is about as close to 7 feet tall without officially being a 7-footer (both Rivals and ESPN have him at 6-foot-10 while others have him at 6-foot-11). He’s led the Naaman Forest Rangers to a 17-6 overall record this year and averages around eight points and eight rebounds a game. Ibeh’s not well known for his offensive prowess, but that’s been an area where Ibeh has showed steady improvement.

“There are a lot of offensive things I’ve added to my game,” Ibeh said.

With his 7-foot-4 wingspan, Ibeh has become one of the nation’s premier shot-blockers. Earlier this year he swatted 10 shots in a game against Denton, and on average he rejects five shots per game. However, Ibeh isn’t the type of player that just blocks shots and nothing else. He’s very judicious on defense and has only reached four fouls once in a game. Ibeh’s defense (and size) is what got him noticed, but it could be his new-found offense that makes him a household name at Texas.

“I want to work hard and become a starter,” said Ibeh, who as of right now is the Longhorn’s lone commitment at center for the 2012 class.

Cameron Ridley, another 6-foot-10 center, had initially committed to Texas as well but has since rescinded his commitment due to reasons unknown. Ibeh didn’t know enough about Ridley’s situation to offer a comment.

However, when asked whether he thought Dallas or Houston produced better basketball players, Ibeh responded with an emphatic “D-Town!,” keeping his allegiance to the Metroplex.

I get the sense that Ibeh is the type of guy that is going to put in a ton of work in the offseason and he could become a completely different player come next year. As long as he’s willing to put forth the effort, he’s going to be a great fit for coach Barnes and Co. His defensive awareness can’t be taught and he may be asked to serve as the anchor down low for the next few years. If Ridley does end up signing (thoughts are he will eventually), Ibeh won’t have to handle as many minutes right off the bat. However, due to the Longhorns’ drought of big men after this year, Ibeh won’t likely be afforded the opportunity to redshirt. He’s going to play, it’s just a matter of how much. In a perfect world he would be able to ease in to the lineup much like Holmes had done this year. However Barnes decides to utilize Ibeh, he will continue to learn and improve his game.

Printed on Thursday, January 26, 2011 as: Recruits to help with lack of height