Finding the Scoring (Guard)

Mixing old faces with some new additions, the Longhorns will look to put the "scoring" back in scoring guard this season.

Julien Lewis entered Texas with a reputation as a high-volume gunner, scoring 25.8 points per game in his senior year at La Marque High School. But his game at that point was largely contingent on drilling jumpers — he openly admitted that the biggest hole in his offensive game was his ability to take defenders off the dribble. And while Lewis has gotten a bit better off the bounce, he's at his best when he's coming off screens and getting clean looks at the bucket.

Take a look at Texas's last three games of 2012-2013. Lewis averaged 19 points per game on 14 shots per game. That's nice efficiency, one buoyed by the fact that Lewis 1) shot a blistering 10-19 (52.6 percent) from three and 2) an efficient 11-13 (84.6 percent) from the free throw line. The next step? Getting Lewis to up his efficiency inside the arc. Even during that hot streak, Lewis shot just 8-23 (34.7 percent) from two, including a 1-for-10 stretch against TCU and Kansas State in the Big 12 Tournament.

Whether Lewis starts or is an offense-first guy off the bench depends on whether he can beat out DeMarcus Holland. Holland is a wonderful athlete who defends well and gives everything when he is on the floor. But he wasn't a scorer as a freshman, earning most of his points in transition. Forget his shooting percentages — Holland's shot is somewhat fixable, as it's largely a product of a lack of strength. Once he works out in the offseason, he has the potential to improve as a shooter. And that should help him as a scorer, as teams wouldn't be able to sit on his drive as much, allowing Holland to use his quickness to attack the lane.

But the primary reason for optimism at the off-guard spot is the addition of two players with success putting the ball in the basket in incoming freshmen Demarcus Croaker and Martez Walker.

Croaker, of Orlando (Fla.) Jones High School, is the prototypical athletic swingman, a 6-foot-4 leaper who was a finalist for the Florida Class 4A Player of the Year. More of a shot-maker than pure shooter, Croaker's scoring light is always on, as evidenced by his 23.9 points per game scored as a senior. And that's something that drew the Texas staff to him, that he has the confidence to score in any situation. Croaker can score from 23-feet in, but is really at his best when he's attacking the basket. He projects as somebody who can not just score at the next level, but also as a slasher who could potentially excel at ringing up fouls on opponents.

If Croaker is a slasher, Walker serves as the perfect complement — a pure shooter. Walker comes to the Longhorns by way of Detroit (Mich.) Pershing High School. He scored 20.4 points per game as a senior, and earned rave reviews from National Recruiting Analyst Brian Snow for his toughness. Walker isn't the athlete that Croaker is, but his added height at 6-5 allows him to provide cover both at the two and behind Ioannis Papapetrou at the three. With a definite need for shooting on the Texas squad, Walker could fill a role as quickly as this upcoming season.

Multiple other players will see time at the two. Texas landed two point guards in its 2014 class in Isaiah Taylor and Kendal Yancy-Harris, and Yancy-Harris's size at 6-4 and nearly 200 pounds makes him a natural player to slide off the ball at times. He's a player who can get into the lane and score, though he's more of a smooth player than a great athlete and he's a decent-to-good shooter, rather than a great one.

And when Taylor is at the point, don't be surprised if Texas attempts to slide somebody like Javan Felix over to the two as well. Felix's primary talent is as a scorer, and by moving him off the ball and removing the burden as primary ball-handler, the Longhorns can tap into that ability a bit more. But with the number of options at Texas's disposal, don't expect Felix to get a ton of minutes per game at that spot.

The expected improvement made by Lewis and Holland, as well as the addition of two scorers in Croaker and Walker along with another big combo guard in Yancy-Harris gives the Longhorns more options, and better options than they had a year ago. Will those added options lead to more scoring from the scoring guard spot? It's a reasonable expectation, but of course, the proof will come on the court.

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