As reported by texassports.com, Alexis Wangmene has been granted a medical hardship waiver from the conference making him the power forward from Cameroon a redshirt sophomore next season. This outstanding news considering the steep learning curve Wangmene showed over the course of his freshman year. Alexis' bread is buttered on the defensive end as well as on the glass given his size, length, and athleticism. Even more encouraging was his offensive play towards the end of the 2008 season, when the freshman displayed a nice turnaround jumper and midrange game to go along with athletic power post moves around the basket.
On a macro level, Wangmene is such a dynamic defensive player that he adds some elements that Texas was sorely lacking last season, which was the ability to guard big athletic power forwards like Dante Cunningham and Blake Griffin with his quick feet and tremendous length. Alexis is strong enough to hold out back to the basket posts and not get shoved under the bucket (see Chapman), yet he's quick enough to play face up forwards 15 feet and in. Something that Pittman struggles with.
Alexis also becomes Texas' only candidate to be a competent weakside shot blocker or eraser on dribble penetration. The latter shot blocking attribute is huge for a team like the 2009 Horns who will most likely pressure the perimeter guys like Bradley, Balbay, and Hamilton, and invite dribble penetration as the only means to defeat pressure.
The extra year of eligibility is also huge because Wangmene is your prototypical 5 year player, in the mold of Klotz and Atchley, in that he's just scratched the surface of how good he can be. Kid will be a defensive monster right away, and a dynamic offensive player by the time he's a senior. Again, great news.
Moving on to Damion James, who is perhaps the key to Texas' prospective National Championship run, I found the last blurb of Mark Rosner's update on the James at the NBA Combine very interesting.
During the week, James has focused on finishing the spring semester of school.
Kids have a hard enough time going to class as it is, much less kids that are rationalizing their decision to make the jump to the NBA. Granted, it's prudent for James to keep his options open by making sure his grades are in order, but the academic effort with things like agents, combines, and draft camps looming, is a good sign in my opinion.
Alexis and James in the fold will give the Horns one of the best frontcourts in the nation to go along with true center Dex Pittman. James can play some 4 alongside Wangmene if the Horns want to go small to combat teams with small, athletic frontcourts like 2008-2009 Villanova, Memphis, or even Kansas. Slide James to the 3 in a frontcourt that includes Wangmene and Pittman if you want to counter bigger frontcourts. What a terror a combination of James and Wangmene would be on the offensive glass attacking defenses that have sold their sole to stop Pittman in the post. Nasty. I can't wait.