Texas prepares to start season without Kabongo


Elisabeth Dillon

With the NCAA’s probe into allegations that sophomore point guard Myck Kabongo received impermissible benefits from an agent still pending, freshman Javan Felix has prepared himself to start Texas’ season opener next week if Kabongo is suspended. Felix, a New Orleans native, was compared to former Longhorns point guard D.J. Augustin, also from New Orleans, by his head coach, Rick Barnes.

Christian Corona

The Longhorns, already without last year’s leading scorer, are preparing for the possibility of playing without sophomore point guard Myck Kabongo in next Friday’s season opener against Fresno State.

J’Covan Brown, who led the Big 12 with 20.1 points per game last year, left to pursue a professional career while Kabongo is currently under NCAA investigation for allegedly receiving impermissible benefits from an agent this summer. He has practiced with the team but won’t scrimmage for Texas before its season starts.

“We hadn’t done a whole lot without him and it showed,” head coach Rick Barnes said of the team’s scrimmage against Davidson College last weekend. “We’re acting as if the guy’s injured and won’t play. Myck has worked hard and done everything we asked him to do. We’re not going to make a big deal about it.”

Should Kabongo be suspended, freshman Javan Felix would have a good chance to start in the Longhorns’ first game at point guard. The New Orleans native was a three-time all-state selection in high school and led his St. Augustine squad to the 4A state title game as a senior.

“He’s a special player. He’s going to shock the country,” sophomore guard Sheldon McClellan said. “He can be one of the best guards in the country. What he showed me against Davidson I’ve never seen anybody do. I think Javan can score more [than Kabongo]. He has some more moves and he’s more versatile.”

That’s high praise coming from Texas’ leading returning scorer. But Felix, who drew comparisons to former Longhorns All-American point guard D.J. Augustin from Barnes, isn’t the only option at point guard. Fellow freshman Demarcus Holland played the position his last two seasons at Garland Naaman Forest and freshman Ioannis Papaetrou can play any position on offense, according to Barnes.

But the 5-foot-9-inch, 190-pound Felix may be the only natural point guard available next week. 

“I’ve seen him step up,” Holland said. “At that size, it’s crazy how much he can create for other people and still finish in the paint.”

Felix, who scored 24 points in the scrimmage against Davidson, by McClellan’s count, isn’t shying away from the chance at an expanded role.

“I’m definitely preparing for that,” Felix said. “Rick Barnes tells me every day in practice to prepare like I will be the starter.”