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Damion James, Mulligan

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Recently, Damion James withdrew his name from the NBA Draft in what could be considered a very wise decision and a boost for Texas basketball in 2009/10 season. The NBA is no place to find confidence in your jump shot. After last season, although painful at times, Texas fans saw Damion willing and fairly capable of shooting the ball from 15 feet and beyond (32% from 3 point range).

Developing a jump shot may not have always been in the best interest for Texas basketball but the opportunity was there for James to improve his shooting in the 2008/09 season. Lacking a second outside shooting option to Abrams, James had the confidence to step up and fill the void when Mason, Ward, Balbay, and Atchley were not shooting or hitting from the outside. Ultimately, this outside shooting deficit is what cost Texas from advancing in the NCAA tournament despite having a dominant inside presence.

At 6’7" and a solid 220 pounds James is long and strong enough to play underneath in college (averaging 9.2 rebounds per game in 2008) but this part of his game will be challenged at the next level against bigger and stronger power forwards. His true position in the NBA is small forward which requires the ability to shoot and get to the rim with the ball. The scouts had to inform James that if he spent another year proving he could shoot the ball he could be a top 10 pick next year provided he still garnered the same kind of rebounding numbers and defensive work.

With new recruits coming in who will provide more shooting depth it will be interesting to see if Coach Barnes will need to reign in James’ outside shooting. I guess this will all depend on James in the end as he has control of his own destiny. Surely, Barnes would welcome James being a serious outside threat who could get to the rim and finish. What coach wouldn’t want a mini- Lebron to complement the inside presence of Pittman, Johnson and Chapman? That is a formidable front line.

Ultimately, there is a lot of money and a future NBA career riding on Damion James improving his shooting. This is the last mulligan Damion James will have before heading out into the professional world. It is midsummer and I envision Damion putting up at least a thousand jumpers per day in some hot sweaty gym back in his hometown of Nacogdoches. As my old coach at Richmond, Dick Tarrant, used to scream in his gargled ex-marine voice, "He who won’t shoot it can’t shoot it."

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Trips Right has also discussed Damion's return: Link