Q: I watched all of Avery Bradley's games last week, and am very excited about what he will add to our team next year. My question is what do you expect Jordan Hamilton's contribution/impact to be versus Avery's? Are they both likely to average 15 or more points per game? Other than scoring, what do you expect each of their major contributions to be?
A: I expect Jordan Hamilton to score 13-15 points per game with the ability to go beyond that. He can score the ball in so many ways with the ability to catch and shoot from three, the ability to put the ball on the floor and get his own shot in the mid-range or maneuvering his way to the rim. He's also a talented rebounder, especially on the offensive end and should be a 75% type of free throw shooter. He, like Bradley without that game changing speed, also thrives in transition. Hamilton just knows how to score the ball and at 6-7.5, 230 pounds, he has a strong body type that is prepared for the college game. What he will battle early on is shot selection as many others with his scoring talent battle because they can get any shot they want, whenever they wish.
Hamilton will rebound and is an underrated passer, especially in transition.
Bradley will likely lead the team in steals and deflections. He'll be a quality rebounding guard on the defensive end.
Texas will have a much better 2-3 zone look next year and may be more of a zone team at times to protect Pittman from foul trouble or go to zone to keep him in the game when he is in foul trouble. Bradley brings a 6-2.5 guard with a 6'7" wingspan to the top of the zone and Texas hasn't had a guard with that type of length that is also that active. Hamilton brings height and length to the baseline of the zone where Texas has been very short the last two years. An underrated part f what Hamilton will also bring to the baseline of the 2-3 zone is his ability to rebound and push the ball down the floor without the need of an outlet pass. It will be a surprise if the Longhorns aren't a much better transition team next year.
Q: As I recall, you have said that, assuming Damion James does not return, you expect our rebounding to not be as strong next year as it was this year. Does that mean you don't expect Wangmene to be a significant factor? If so, is that because he isn't a strong rebounder or because you don't expect him to play that much? What about Pittman? Shouldn't we expect better rebounding numbers from him due to more playing time, more experience, etc? Won't Bradley be a plus on rebounding? What about Hamilton?
A: The concern if James were to go pro is that he is a rebound chaser with a quick and powerful second jump. James is a terrific traffic rebounder and snatches rebounds a foot above the rim at times. Texas doesn't have another player on the roster with that ability.
Gary Johnson and Dexter Pittman have been location rebounders to this point in their careers. Pittman isn't going to be a rebound chaser at any point during his basketball career. Johnson is a player that has the ability to step up, as a rebounder should James go pro. He's got to chase and attack rebounds the same way he attacks his defender on the offensive end.
Wangmene has been a location rebounder to date as well. He's got to become more active snatching traffic rebounds as well.
Clint Chapman is the player that could really step in that area, but he has to get physically stronger in his lower body to hold position and keep his body in the correct positions to use his leaping ability, which is impressive.
I do think Bradley and Hamilton will chase rebounds as Texas should be a better perimeter rebounding team, which has been a huge weakness the last two or three seasons. Balbay and Bradley are very good rebounding guards.
Q: Many people seem to think it is possible that Balbay's shooting may improve significantly by next year. It doesn't seem to me that that is a reasonable expectation. What do you think?
A: Balbay is guy that has been seen hitting three or four three-pointers in pick up games in the off-season. His release has moved up six or so inches since he first reported to Texas. If he can continue to improve the release, but more importantly get up thousands of shots and gain confidence in that area, he has the ability to make the 13-15-foot jumper, which he has to do to be the best player he can be.
Q: How much time/how many reps do they spend on free throws?
A: Hours upon hours. All of the players spend a lot of time at the free throw line on a daily basis during the season. The reality is that last year's Texas team just wasn't made up of 70%+ free throw shooters. Next year, it could be more of the same. Pittman is good for a center, but as his minutes went up and he played tired much more, his percentage dropped from the mid 70's to mid 60's. I expect that to be the same next year.
Q: What conditioning program will Chapman be on this summer?
A: I am not sure exactly what Todd Wright has planned for Chapman in addition to the normal workouts the team goes through in off-season. His strength has improved, maybe not at the rate desired, but this is a huge off-season for him because he has the talent to be another Longhorn player that makes big gains from sophomore to junior year. For me, getting stronger in the lower body and continuing to improve his stamina is the key.
Q: How far behind is Jordan Hamilton, or how much of his edge has he lost not playing HS ball this year?
A: That's a great question and one that will be much easier to answer Saturday night after the Jordan Brand Classic. Hamilton has played in city leagues, fall leagues and practiced with his high school team nearly every day even though he didn't get to play.
It will be interesting to see how he plays Saturday after not playing in a legit game for a few months. As far as getting ready for his freshman season, that will not be a problem. He'll report in early June with Bradley and Williams and Todd Wright will prepare his body.
Q: List the roster for the 2009-10 team. Who starts? Who is the 6th man?
A: Hard to make up the roster at this point. The decision of Damion James should be known quickly this week and J'Covan Brown, while he has made strides towards getting qualified, still must get through the NCAA Clearinghouse and that is never a given. Once those two situations play out and where the numbers are at, that question will be easier answered.
My starting line-up as of today (taking James out until he announces his decision) is…
PG Dogus Balbay
SG Avery Bradley
SF Jordan Hamilton
PF Gary Johnson
C Dexter Pittman
Jai Lucas doesn't figure in at this point, as he doesn't become eligible until December.
Q: When will Barnes win the conference title again?
A: Kansas and Texas should have a couple of battles the next two years with the talent each program is bringing in. Then there is Oklahoma. If Willie Warren leaves this year, which is expected by me, they drop off even with their quality freshman class.
It's likely Coach Barnes gains a split in the next two years for his fourth Big 12 title or co-title at Texas.