The St. Louis Eagles have produced numerous elite players over the years. From Ben McLemore, Brad Beal, Tyler Hansbrough, David Lee and others, few programs have nurtured so much blue-chip talent that proceeded to enjoy stupendous collegiate success.
And let's establish this up front: Jordan Barnett is unlikely to become one of those guys. But the point in mentioning his travel team is that Barnett has developed in surroundings that have cultivated wild success, and he's also going to a Texas program that desperately needs a talent infusion.
Barnett impressed locally beginning as a sophomore, and that season he drew attention from Butler and Missouri, among others. He moved along quietly into his junior year, when he began to impress both for his basketball and academic prowess.
Last winter, he reeled off a list that included Michigan State, Purdue, Iowa, Missouri, Harvard, Stanford, St. Louis, Butler, Oklahoma State and Kansas State. Clearly, he'd have his pick in terms of striking the ideal student-athlete balance.
He hit the road with the Eagles in April and immediately solidified his place as a high-major prospect. Though he didn't scintillate that month either at the NY2LA Swish 'N Dish or on the EYBL circuit, he did enhance his stock among some college coaches.
But while he racked up offers in the spring, as of mid-April he still did not list the Texas Longhorns prominently. The mutual attraction intensified during the summer, however, and Barnett committed to UT in early August to become Rick Barnes' first pledge from the 2014 class.
Barnett is a very impressive run/jump athlete. Depending upon one's perspective, he's either a tall and wiry strong wing or a lithe, slightly short (6-7) face-up power forward. Positional meanings have become scrambled over the past decade, but defensively he can guard some smaller post players as well as many wings.
He's also very effective in transition. Barnett handles fairly well on the break and finishes above the rim consistently, using his leap and anticipation for tip-slams and alley-oops.
While I wouldn't categorize him as an elite shooter, he does possess sufficient range to keep defenders honest. That might be enough given that Texas likely will employ him in a utility role, rather than asking him to be a primary halfcourt scorer.
He's obviously quite bright as well, and intelligence on the court never hurts. Barnett hardly is a complete player, but chances are he'll absorb and respond positively to college coaching.
Playing through contact and generally asserting himself physically stand as critical needs going forward. At times, Barnett can become very passive and play beneath his ability level. Competing with more fire and aggression will endear him to the coaching staff immediately, because in terms of talent he possesses many fine qualities.
From a skills perspective, he could improve his halfcourt dribbling and continue working on the consistency of his jump shot.
On some prior Texas squads, Barnett likely would need to wait his turn while he refined his game and redesigned his approach to the rigors of Division I athletics. Because the Longhorns currently possess relatively less talent, however, he's likely to earn early court time.
The expectation here is that he'll start for two-three seasons for the Horns, and that his scoring will ebb and flow based on the pace of the game. The faster UT plays, the better his odds of producing big numbers. That prognosis stands subject to change if he becomes a more effective handler and shooter, and if it does he's athletic to prove a significant Big 12 surprise.