With the exception of a potential player or two, the Longhorns have finished up their recruiting for the class of 2011, putting together a potential top-five group. Now, it's time to focus on 2012, which has a chance to be another stellar class for the Longhorns. Below, we've taken a look at what Texas is expected to have on the 2012-2013 roster, and analyzed each position by need.
Scout's top 75 players in the class of 2012: http://scouthoops.scout.com/2/1029389.html
1) Post guys
The Longhorns redshirted Clint Chapman this year, in part so they would have four big men next year with Tristan Thompson, Alexis Wangmene and Chapman returning and the addition of power forward Jonathan Holmes. But that's really only a stop-gap. Thompson is talented enough to jump to the NBA after his second year with added development, while Wangmene and Chapman will be seniors in 2011-2012. That means the Longhorns — in order to keep four bigs on roster — would be out at least two big men, potentially three if Thompson leaves. The Texas staff is still looking for a big in the class of 2011 to plug in, but there are minimal talented big men left.
The better answer likely awaits in the 2012 class, where Texas is in on Scout.com's No. 4 overall prospect in Cameron Ridley. Scout's No. 3 center prospect in a loaded post class, Ridley has great size and can intimidate on the defensive end of the court. He also has great touch around the basket. Even better for Texas, Ridley has already visited the 40 Acres and said that he favors the Longhorns as a college choice. Another top-notch option is Shaquille Cleare, Scout.com's No. 25 overall prospect and No. 7 center. Cleare has more weight on his frame and is a load down low. He moved up through the rankings with an impressive summer.
Looking for some outside the box options? Scout.com's No. 61 and No. 62 rated prospects are forwards with upside. Wannah Bail is an outstanding athlete, though a raw one, and could present matchup problems at the four. And Winston Shepard is intriguing as well. His family has Texas ties, and Shepard compares to former Kansas standout Julian Wright, a 'tweener forward with great athleticism and nice ball-handling skills for a big. Shepard is somewhat limited offensively because he struggles as a shooter, so he's essentially an athletic small forward with a power forward's skill set.
The Longhorns figured to be thin on the wing after this season, with the likely departure of Jordan Hamilton leaving only the undersized J'Covan Brown and co-point Cory Joseph as wing players. So it made sense that they went after, and got two high-level wing players in Sheldon McClellan and Julien Lewis. McClellan is 6-foot-5, a smooth scorer who excels off the bounce, while the 6-3 Lewis is a tough player and an excellent shooter. Still, it wouldn't hurt to add another couple players to that mix. The staff is still in on DeAndre Daniels, a talented and long scoring wing who can also steal some minutes at the four. But they'll have to beat out Kansas and Florida to bring back the former Longhorn commitment.
With that said, the Longhorns have some options on the wing in the class of 2012 in SG Rasheed Sulaimon, Scout's No. 19 prospect, and SG Marcus Smart, Scout's No. 34 prospect. Sulaimon is an excellent scorer, somebody who plays with a lot of energy offensively and can put the ball in the basket. Unfortunately for Texas, Sulaimon was blown away by his recent Duke visit and, should he receive a Blue Devil offer (one is likely forthcoming), is probably headed to Durham.
Smart, on the other hand, has most of the Big 12 after him, and for good reason. He's a gritty defender, a tough competitor and a versatile player who can handle the ball and play multiple perimeter positions. He'd be a great fit with what Texas already has.
With some work, Shepard could also fit here. He probably handles and passes the ball well enough for a three — his court vision and passing are considered his primary offensive attributes — and he's athletic enough to play outside. But pending an outside shot and more offensive development, he's probably better suited as an undersized, athletic four.
3) Point Guard
The Longhorns will lose both Dogus Balbay and Jai Lucas after this season to graduation, meaning that Cory Joseph and Myck Kabongo will be the only two point guards on the team. Additionally, both of those players have the talent to potentially make an NBA jump after the 2011-2012 season. The Texas staff doesn't recruit any player believing that they are a one-and-done, so the assumption that Kabongo, while wonderfully talented and ahead-of-his-age in terms of intangibles, will stay put for at least a second season, while Joseph also figures to stick around, if for no other reason than his deferential attitude offensively.
But the Longhorns aren't sitting around hoping that the duo stays. Texas is in on point guard L.J. Rose, Scout.com's No. 13 overall player and one of the elite point guards in the class of 2012. Rose can score, especially from the mid-range on in, but would rather set up great options for his teammates. At 6-3, he has prototypical size for the position and is a plus (though probably not elite) athlete. Rose would be a difficult pull though, as most of the country is recruiting him.