Banquet: Aldridge Makes It Official

On Monday the Texas Men's Basketball team held their annual banquet amid two key pieces of news: Barnes is staying, Aldridge is going.

With the seemingly simultaneous news that sophomore forward LaMarcus Aldridge will declare for the NBA Draft and head coach Rick Barnes will remain at the University of Texas, the Longhorns' players, coaches, families, staff, band, cheer and pom squads, alumni and others gathered to celebrate the 2005-2006 season. The banquet was held in the friendly confines of the Frank Erwin Center, where Texas went 16-1 this season.

Barnes also used the event as an opportunity to reaffirm his commitment to Texas.

"There's not a basketball program in the country with more to work with," said Barnes, "in terms of top notch facilities and players."

Barnes also said that when talk first surfaced about N.C. State's interest in hiring him, he didn't immediately turn it down because he didn't want to give the Wolfpack "bulletin board material" going into their second round game.

"I can tell you now I've got a better job [than N.C. State]," said Barnes. "This is the best job in the country."

Aldridge did not speak at the banquet, but did officially declare for the NBA Draft in a press release afterwards.

"My main two goals were to get started on earning my degree and to have the opportunity to play in the NBA," Aldridge said. "I've accomplished both of those, and the opportunity is there for me right now to begin the next stage of my basketball career."

Barnes said he was very thankful for having Aldridge at the University of Texas for the time he did.

"I don't think I've coached anyone who wants to be coached more than LaMarcus," said Barnes.

Aldridge and junior forward P.J. Tucker were named the teams MVPs.

Highlights from the evening:

One of the team videos showed Brad Buckman sitting in Barnes' office with his feet on the desk. Barnes later joked that if he ever caught Buckman doing it again he'd "kick his ass."

Barnes commented that Mack Brown was involved getting him a pay raise. "Mack was telling me to ask for more because the more I get, the more he gets," joked Barnes.

After receiving an award Ian Mooney, a walk-on, junior transfer from St. Louis University who wasn't eligible to play this year, leaned over to the microphone and said: "I didn't even know I was eligible to win."

Kenton Paulino indicated he will never forget his game winning shot over West Virginia…nor will he let anyone else. "I'm going to get that tape out all the time and show it," said Paulino, "even when I'm an old man."

Junior guard Craig Winder is apparently the worst singer on the team, by far, as he was teased about it by multiple teammates during the evening.

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