The University of Texas has not seen a skilled point guard the likes of Myck Kabongo since Longhorns legend T.J. Ford played in burnt orange.
From the moment this young man signed with UT he was expected to change the face and mentality of this program and become an elite basketball star.
Colorful descriptions aside, the reality is that Kabongo has disappointed this season. Head coach Rick Barnes openly ripped this talent following the loss to the University of North Carolina, claiming that his 5-star recruit failed to execute and perform his play calls.
Kabongo has an amazing level of promise to become one of college basketball’s greats, and his success is undoubtedly tied directly to the Longhorns success.
Yet the question remains, why?
From a technical aspect, Kabongo possesses all that a basketball coach, college or professional, lusts for in a player. Watch any of his high school highlight reels and one will quickly pick up on the lightning speed of this player. As a result, he can start a play before the defense can even recover from the previous action on the opposite side of the court. This speed also grants Kabongo the skill to break through double- or even triple-coverage at points and set up his teammates for big gains.
Very rarely will a scout find a player with this quickness and another key proficiency. For Kabongo, such a feat was an expectation.
He pairs this swiftness with incredible ball-handling skills. In high school he was known for being very frugal with his turnovers, but he has not adapted well to the college level. His assist-to-turnover ratio will have to improve in order for him to become a legitimate threat at the point guard position. Texas cannot succeed when its star brings in only two more assists than steals.
Kabongo has shown that he can be a fantastic rebounder as well. Essentially fulfilling a point guard’s goal of making possession difficult for his opponent, the Longhorns would do well to benefit from such improvement by this versatile player.
As for the intangibles, this young man can bring a sense of leadership to this team that has been sorely missed.
He needs to become the quarterback that all of the scouts expected him to be and learn to trust the decisions of his coach more. Fans and teammates have seen flashes of his brilliant basketball IQ as well, yet it needs to become a more persistent feature of this offense in order to bring this program to the next level.
In the end, it is not a good sign when one’s coach is quoted as saying, “Four guys know it, [Kabongo] doesn’t,” when referring to discipline.
When a team signs a 5-star recruit they expect the victories to pile up. Until Kabongo can earn the praise, trust and respect of his coaching staff, fans and teammates and develop into a collegiate-level player, it is safe to bet that the University of Texas will remain one of the more inconsistent teams in the Big 12.