• Top 5 fleeting memories of Myck Kabongo

    He only played roughly 1,500 minutes as a Longhorn, and he will most likely be remembered more for a suspension than any one moment during his two years at Texas.

    Myck Kabongo came to Austin after wooing every college in the nation with his exciting style of play at Findlay Prep in Henderson, Nev. Findlay helped produce three other former Longhorns in Avery Bradley, Cory Joseph and Tristan Thomspon. Both Joseph and Thompson are originally from Ontario, Canada, as is Kabongo, and the connection seemed to be as strong as ever when Kabongo picked Texas over schools like Syracuse, Duke, Kentucky and North Carolina.

    Two years later there are still some lasting memories from Kabongo’s time as a Longhorn. Here’s a rundown of his top five memorable moments at Texas:

    1. Kabongo’s freshman year was filled with hype surrounding his frenetic pace on the court and his elite ability to pass teammates open. In his first three games at Texas, Kabongo dropped 37 points and dished out 19 assists, all while leading the Longhorns to a 2-1 record.

    2. Later in his freshman year, Kabongo recorded his first collegiate double-double, a 12-point, 10-assist, showing in a loss at No. 9 Missouri. He would follow-up with a consecutive double-double in his next game with 14 points and 10 assists in another loss at Kansas State.

    3. In one of Kabongo’s more forgettable games as a freshman, he failed to make a field goal and scored just two points in the Longhorns’ loss to Cincinnati in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Kabongo missed all of his field goal attempts six times his freshman year, with three of the occurrences coming in the final five games of the season. Maybe he was thinking about the NBA Draft a little bit too soon.

    4. It was no secret Kabongo had plans to make the leap to the NBA at some point and this past summer, Kabongo was caught in the middle of an NCAA investigation surrounding a trip he took to Cleveland to workout with former Longhorn Tristan Thompson. The NCAA alleges Kabongo received impermissible benefits in taking the trip as well as receiving direction from trainer Jerry Powell. Following the NCAA’s investigation it was decided that Kabongo would miss the first 23 games of his sophomore season and his return was set for Feb. 13 against Iowa State.

    5. His secondary debut came in the form of a riveting double-overtime win at home over the Cyclones, but it was in another overtime win two weeks later that Kabongo defined his sophomore season. Kabongo would score 31 of the Longhorns’ 92 points in their win over Oklahoma. Texas was down two points with seconds left on the clock, and as time ran out Kabongo made a shot that he could not duplicate if he tried it 100 more times. His shot from the hip as he was getting fouled made no sense and probably should have never happened, much like the entire season for Texas. His final mark on the program were 11 games as a sophomore in which he averaged 14.6 points per game and handed out an average of 5.5 assists.

    Kabongo could have served as the kingpin for a still youthful Texas team had he chose to stay for his junior year, but a season marred by suspension was a far cry from the lucrative allure of becoming a professional athlete. He served his required time in college, and he now joins his Canadian cohorts as the latest player to reach the NBA under the guidance of Rick Barnes.

  • Texas point guard Myck Kabongo declares for NBA Draft

    Sophomore point guard Myck Kabongo discusses his decision to forego his final two years of eligiblity at Texas and declare for the NBA Draft on Friday.
    Sophomore point guard Myck Kabongo discusses his decision to forego his final two years of eligiblity at Texas and declare for the NBA Draft on Friday.

    Sophomore point guard Myck Kabongo has declared for the NBA Draft, Texas announced Friday morning.

    He started 45 games over two seasons with the Longhorns, averaging 10.8 points, 5.3 assists and 32.2 minutes per game while shooting 40 percent from the floor, 31.1 percent from three-point range and 71.5 percent from the free-throw line during his Texas career.

    "In life, you have to make tough decisions and this is probably one of the toughest decisions I'll ever have to make," Kabongo said. "I talked to God and to my mom, and they were really the only people I needed to talk to about it. I'm just excited for this next stage in life."

    Before the team banquet Thursday night, head coach Rick Barnes admitted that he went into this season expecting it to be Kabongo's last at Texas.

    "Our whole feeling was, in his mind, he wanted this to be his last year," Barnes said. "He might be decided. Who knows? He might have decided a long time ago."

    Kabongo was suspended for 23 games by the NCAA this year for accepting impermissible benefits during the offseason, reportedly from an agent for a trip to Cleveland to workout with former Longhorns forward Tristan Thompson, and for lying about it to school officials.

    "It was the darkest stage of my life a couple months ago," Kabongo said. "I didn't think I was breaking any rules. I should have been more truthful with our school's compliance. That was a mistake. A big mistake. But I corrected myself. I was happy that I was very truthful with the NCAA."

    He earned team MVP honors despite playing just 11 games last season. Kabongo averaged 14.6 points, 5.5 assists, 5.0 rebounds and 2.0 steals in 37.3 minutes per game this year.

    Texas went 10-13 without Kabongo and 6-5 with him, failing to reach the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 15 years under Rick Barnes. The Longhorns lost to Houston in the first round of the CBI last month.

    Kabongo's decision to forego his final two years of eligibility comes on the heels of the departure of two of his Longhorns teammates. The 6-foot-1, 180-pounder from Toronto joins fellow sophomores Sheldon McClellan and Jaylen Bond as those leaving the Texas program after two years.

    McClellan, the team's leading scorer, and Bond both announced their intentions to transfer last month.

  • Searching for promised land in Arizona

    The word offense in the game of football is supposed to take up the definition of the action of attacking: gaining yards and scoring touchdowns. Well the Arizona
    Cardinals displayed the alternate definition of the word; causing annoyance and resentment amongst most of those who happened to watch one of the NFL’s worst
    statistically performing offenses in 2012.

    Last season the Cardinals totaled the least amount of yards by an offense (4,209), recorded the second least points per game (15.6), gave up the most sacks (58), threw the most interceptions (21), and rushed for the least amount of yards a game as an offensive unit.

    And they started the season 4-0.

    Despite the surprising start, the team would lose 11 of its last 12 games, with an Exodus-like wandering around the Arizona desert trying to seek out a win at home where they lost five straight to close out the year.

    Owner Bill Bidwill and President Michael Bidwill decided not to wander around for 40 years and fired head coach Ken Whisenhunt and general manager Rod Graves.

    Since then, 2012 AP Coach of the Year Bruce Arians was hired away from his interim head coaching job at Indianapolis as head coach of the Cardinals and vice president of player personnel Steve Keim was promoted to general manager.

    After 18 years of NFL coaching experience, Arians will enter his first full season as head coach. But instead of claiming sole command of the locker room, Arians hired 74-year-old Tom Moore to be his assistant head coach/offensive consultant.

    One would think that a coach with as much experience as Arians would leap at the opportunity to take complete reign of a team after years of patience and waiting. But Arians must have realized he needed some kind of guidance.

    Before the hiring of Arians, there have been seven head coaches since the Cardinals made the move from St. Louis to Pheonix in 1989. None of those coaches hired an assistant head coach going into their first year. No coach has sustained a winning record with the franchise since Don Coryell transformed the losing program into his “Cardiac Cardinals” and captured two division championships from 1974-1977. So it may be a wise decision for Arians to hire some help.

    Tom Moore, who began coaching in the NFL when Coryell resigned, will have provide plenty of guidance. Moore earned two Super Bowl rings as a wide receivers
    coach for the Steelers in the 70s and earned a third as offensive coordinator of the Indianapolis Colts in 2006. Let’s just say he’s seen his share of football.

    With all the changes the front office has made, the Cardinals are certainly headed in a new direction.

    The new direction of the Cardinals has also been displayed through the release of former starting quarterbacks Kevin Kolb and John Skelton, running back Beanie
    Wells, and wide receiver Early Doucet.

    But Arizona made their biggest move yet in trading three draft picks to the Oakland Raiders in exchange for Carson Palmer.

    Despite throwing for over 4,000 yards last season, Palmer’s time in Oakland has been a disappointment. Picked up mid-season in 2011 to keep playoff hopes alive, the 33-year-old veteran did not give Oakland the push they needed to make it into the playoffs. Palmer would go 8-17 as a starter.

    Larry Fitzgerald, Andre Roberts, and Michael Floyd round out Palmer’s new receiving core, an upgrade from a season ago.

    Though it will help to have a proven starting quarterback, the Cardinals still have a long way to go in improving the offense. With 58 sacks given up a season before, the offensive line still needs improvement. After the release of Beanie Wells, LaRod Stephens-Howling is the returning lead rusher for the team with 357 yards and four touchdowns.

    With the draft upcoming, it is likely that those positions will be addressed. Offensive tackles Luke Joeckel, Eric Fisher, and Lane Johnson are all top-10 prospects.
    Although Joeckel most likely will be selected within the top three picks, Arizona holds the seventh and could take a shot at either Fisher or Johnson if they are
    available. Running backs Montee Ball, Le’Veon Bell, or even Marcus Lattimore might be available for Arizona later in the draft to build up some talent in the backfield.

    The promised land is still in the distance for the Arizona Cardinals. Though Palmer was a major acquisition in moving the franchise forward, there is still much more to be done.

  • Texas’ defensive recruiting roll continues

    Last week it was the defensive line, this week the Longhorns made splashes at the linebacker position. Otaro Alaka of Cypress Falls committed to Texas on Monday and the very next day, top Florida linebacker Andrew Beck made the pledge.

    Alaka, particularly, is a huge get because he chose the Longhorns over Texas A&M, giving Texas a much needed win against their heated rivals. The 6-foot-3 205 pound Houston native is fast and versatile but best suited to play on the outside.
    Beck’s commitment came as a bit of a surprise. The Longhorns rarely reach into the state of Florida for recruits (they haven’t had one since 1992) and the Tampa native declared Stanford as his favorite just a few days before his commitment. It’s quite the coup for Texas, the #20 ranked inside linebacker prospect according to rivals.com, led national football powerhouse Plant High School in tackles last season.

    Alaka and Beck, both 2014 recruits, became the fourth and fifth defensive players in their class to commit in an eleven-day span, joining defensive linemen, Trey Lealaimatafao of San Antonio Warren, Jake McMillon of Abilene, and Courtney Garnett from Saint Augustine (La.).

    They also are the second and third linebackers to commit in their class, joining Dallas Carter’s Cameron Hampton, who committed in early February.

    The Longhorns now have 14 commits for the class of 2014 after having only 13 for all of last year.