Hoops Recruiting: Barnes Adds A Big Man

<B>Connor Atchley</B> (pronounced Ashley), a 6-9/6-9.5 center from Houston Clear Lake, had a group of favorites: Texas, Miami, Texas A&amp;M and New Mexico. But after having UT head basketball coach <B>Rick Barnes</B> come by his high school to meet with him and his family, an offer was made and for Atchley, that offer was simply too good to pass up.

"To tell you the truth, I always wanted to go to UT," Atchley told IT. "I was born and raised in Texas. And to get an opportunity to go to a place like Texas, it's just the ultimate opportunity. Coach Barnes is one of the best coaches in the nation and when he offered, I jumped on it."

The 6-9 prep from Clearlake, of course, knew Barnes was coming to his school yesterday to meet with him and his parents, but wasn't exactly sure if an offer was forthcoming, though he had his suspicions.

"I thought something was going to happen because Coach Barnes is probably too busy to just come and meet me and my parents," the all-district 4/5-spot pick said. "And when he got there, he told me what he liked about me and my game and how he'd love for me to come to The University of Texas. I told him right then I wanted to commit."

The euphoria of it all still exists as Atchley told IT that he's still flying and is very excited about joining the Longhorn hoops program.

Averaging close to 10 points, six rebounds and two blocks a game for his high school team as a junior, Atchley wasn't able to recall his stats for his AAU Hoops team, the Houston Gold. Coached by Jack Thompson, his AAU squad has him playing in a 2-post system, with the '04 UT hoops commit playing both the low and high post.

"I like playing both the high and low," Atchley revealed. "And I feel that I'm able to contribute at either and do both well."

In high school, his game is more rebounding, shot-blocking and scoring off of offensive rebounds, with the senior leadership and the bulk of the scoring load coming from two senior guards who were deadly from the outside.

"Next year the offense will come from the inside because we have some of other really good big guys in addition to me," Atchley said.

"I'm a post-up player and can put it up from anywhere on the floor," said the 210-pound big man. "I have a hook shot, can hit the 15-foot jumper, accurate from the arc and can do a little slashing to the basket if the opportunity presents itself."

A versatile player who can score from inside and out who utilizes almost an unfair height advantage to shoot over people is something Barnes apparently saw in the Falcon post player.

But who would win with Connor Atchley on Connor Atchley? The offensive-minded Atchley or the defensive-minded Atchley?

"It would be a tie," Atchley quipped. "I'm good on both ends of the floor. So, it would be a toss-up."

And he'll be getting even better between now and the time he's needed to play an integral role in Barnes' rotation because the kid is busy lifting weights when he's not playing hoops.

"I'll be doing everything I can, whether it's getting stronger by improving my upper-body and lower-body strength or improving on the court as I continue to work on my all-around game," Atchley said. "I'm doing everything I can to be a key player in the UT offense and defense. I'm really working hard and I know that's what it will take if you want to be one of the best."

"I'm just very honored and very happy that Coach Barnes thinks I'm good enough to go in and play for him," Atchley gushed. "But I think I can come in and produce for him too. And I really can't wait to become a part of the family."

Nice kid, nice pickup for Barnes and Co. and a key addition to the Horns' efforts in making many deep runs in future tourneys, for you simply can't teach height and this kid brings plenty of it.


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