Aldridge NBA Bound; A Peek At Next Season

In last week's Inside Scoop, we reported that, based on a source close to the Texas hoops program, LaMarcus Aldridge is "almost 100% gone." Today, major newspaper reports indicate the same thing. With Aldridge apparently NBA bound, what will the Horns look like in their Elite Eight follow-up?

Well, that depends on the NBA decisions of two other Longhorns, senior-to-be forward P.J. Tucker and junior-to-be G Daniel Gibson. Both are believed to be ready to test the NBA waters, although whether they take the final plunge may depend on their projected Draft status in this weak Draft class. (See the Inside Scoop for more.)

If both Tucker and Gibson return, and with six incoming true freshman slated to arrive in the summer, Rick Barnes could have a full complement of 13 scholarship players on the roster to make another run at a national title:

1 D.J. Augustin, 5-11, 180, true freshman -- McDonald's All-American looks to be in the starting line-up at the point from Day One on the Forty Acres.

1/2 A.J. Abrams, 5-10, 155, sophomore -- Improved throughout his true freshman season, but still a shooting guard in a (small) point guard's body.

1/2 Daniel Gibson, 6-2, 190, junior -- Went through a mild 'sophomore slump', and still could choose to go to the NBA, but he could benefit more than anyone from the arrival of Augustin.

2 J.D. Lewis, 6-1, 180, junior -- Three-point specialist needs work on all-around game to be more than a bit player, particularly with the other 2s on the roster.

2 Craig Winder, 6-2, 190, senior -- Must improve dramatically on the offensive end if he is to fill his envisioned role as a defensive stopper.

2 Harrison Smith, 6-3, 185, true freshman -- Daniel Gibson's former Houston Jones teammate will compete for time at shooting guard.

2 Justin Mason, 6-3, 185, true freshman -- Early role could be to break down defenses off the dribble, and play defense.

3 P.J. Tucker, 6-5, 225, senior -- The team's leading scorer and rebounder, and Rick Barnes' go-to guy since his freshman season, he's looking for an NBA paycheck, but still projects as a 'tweener at the next level. Any other year than this one he's probably not going anywhere, but that weak Draft field makes it a possibility this year.

3/4 Kevin Durant, 6-9, 205, true freshman -- The Draft field is weak partly because of the NBA's new age limit that sent this high school stud (and others) to college rather than directly to the NBA, where he certainly would have been (and at or near the very top of the Draft) otherwise. A definite starter from the get-go, with the NBA-like skills at the three-spot that Tucker lacks (height, three-point range).

4 Mike Williams, 6-7, 230, junior -- Displayed a nice shooting touch (7-of-8 from the field) and rebounding (4 per game) in the Tourney, which he'll need to duplicate for the Horns not to see a significant drop in production at this position with Brad Buckman gone.

4/5 Matt Hill, 6-10, 230, true freshman -- Texas coaches believe they snagged an aggressive big man of Lincoln, Neb.

5 Connor Atchley, 6-9, 225, sophomore -- Still a project, but minutes should continue to increase off the bench. Think Jason Klotz.

5 Dexter Pittman, 6-10, 320, true freshman -- Six-foot-10, 320-pounder puts the "big" in "big man".

It's obvious from the list above that the reliable strength of next season's Horns will be at the 1 thru 3 spots. The post is another story. Barnes will need big contributions from guys that have yet to do so. And depth? That'll depend on the decisions of Tucker and Gibson.

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