Last week, the Texas Longhorns basketball program landed its first commitment in the 2014 class. Texas received a surprise pledge from Jordan Barnett, a small forward from St. Louis (MO) Christian Brothers College. Barnett ranks 106th overall according to the 247 Composite rankings. His offer list is decent, including area teams like Kansas St. and Missouri as well as nationally recognized programs like Michigan St., Stanford, and Butler.
Barnett's mixtapes and scouting reports sound promising. 6' 7" wing scorers are a valuable commodity in the college game, and Barnett looks like an above-the-rim player with a solid shooting stroke, along with some ability to handle the rock. Per multiple reports, Barnett sometimes will disappear from games, and also needs to seek improvement in his rebounding and midrange game.
According to both Reggie Rankin of ESPN and Adam Zagoria of SNY.tv, Barnett is a huge Kevin Durant fan, a factor that surely helped Texas head coach Rick Barnes in recruiting. In Zagoria's article, Barnett's father also noted that Barnett is an honors student, and Texas' strong academic reputation was a factor in Barnett's recruitment.
Barnett is a solid first commitment to the Longhorns' 2014 recruiting class. However, he doesn't figure to be the difference-maker that Barnes needs to shake his team out of mediocrity. Further, it doesn't cover up the simple fact that Texas will miss on not one, not two, but three Texan five-star small forwards in 2014.
What's mind-boggling is that all three are Houston-area prospects that play for Houston Hoops AAU, traditionally a Texas-friendly program. Texas had been most involved with Kelly Oubre, a high school teammate of current Horn Cameron Ridley for his first two years at Fort Bend Bush. Oubre is also a Louisiana native, and Barnes surely tried to play up his connection with New Orleans-bred D.J. Augustin and Javan Felix. No dice: Oubre just released a top 8, and Texas didn't make it. Two more heralded prospects, Justise Winslow and Justin Jackson, didn't even bother listing Texas amongst even their semi-finalist lists despite strong interest from Texas.
Of course, with a fanbase like ours, why would they bother? The aforementioned Rankin article notes that Barnett took an unofficial visit to Austin last spring. Barnett made the trip after his AAU team, the St. Louis Eagles, played in the Dallas EYBL, Nike's traveling circuit for grassroots hoops. None of the major Texas recruiting services bothered to report on this news, leaving Barnett a virtual unknown to Texas fans until after his commitment. With the commitment itself met with a collective shrug from the Longhorn fanbase, it's not a surprise that Longhorn recruiting analysts weren't pursuing hoops-related leads. Not many people care about Texas basketball these days, and it shows.
It would be nice to think that Barnett will be one of the many pieces that leads Texas back on the path to conference championship contention. But at this point, it's just as likely that Barnett will have a new head coach by the time he matriculates to Texas. At least in Austin the grass is green and the girls are pretty. Welcome aboard, Jordan!