James Makes Monday Decision

The race to nab Damion James is over. On Monday afternoon, the 23 point a game scorer from Nacogdoches cast his lot with a Big 12 powerhouse.

The Texas Longhorns are now the proud owners of the nation's No. 3 recruiting class per Scout.com. Rick Barnes and Co. received word on Monday that Damion James, Scout.com's No. 19 prospect in the Class of 2006, would be joining a powerful contingent led by Kevin Durant.

"It's kind of been where he wanted to go ever since he was a little kid," Mark Richardson, the head coach at Nacogdoches said. "I think that's what got it in the end because both of them did a really good job and he knew that if he went to A&M they would have a really good team."

By all accounts, James struggled with the decision.

"I just think that he really enjoyed both places but he enjoyed Coach Barnes a lot," Nacogdoches assistant Robert Lucero said. "It was a tough decision for him. I think he's really excited about playing with Kevin Durant also."

Lucero said that both the staffs at Texas and Texas A&M have been informed of the decision. They were designated the finalist for James' services last week, 4 weeks after James opted out of his letter of intent to Oklahoma.

The addition of James vaults the Longhorns over Kansas and gives Barnes the deepest and most talented recruiting class in the Big 12.

A&M had been involved in this high stakes recruitment and was hoping to lock James down in an effort to finalize another strong class by Billy Gillispie and his staff. However, according to Lucero, once Texas got involved the second time around the pull was just too much to Austin.

"I think he kind of had a dream to go to Texas and when that opportunity came he decided to look at them again."

Washington told the scenario of how Texas was close to getting Damion the first time around until the 6-foot-8 wing hit it off with OU's skipper.

"He had gotten close to getting ready to commit to (Texas) 2 different times," Washington said. "Then, Coach Sampson came in and he and Coach just really hit it off. At the time when he committed he was a lot younger individual.

"It was a really big step for a small town kid out of East Texas. He went with the person he felt most comfortable with. Now, two years later, he's grown up a lot and the idea of college didn't scare him at all."

What's scary now is the talent heading to Austin.

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