Texas Basketball: 10 Reasons Myck Kabongo Should Stay for His Sophomore Season
Myck Kabongo, one of the most heralded members of the 2012 freshman class, has lived up to his billing in his first season with the Texas Longhorns. The Canadian point guard is averaging 9.9 points and 5.2 assists a night for a team that’s hitting its stride during a four-game (and counting) winning streak.
One-and-done careers are the norm for freshmen with Kabongo’s NBA prospects, and Longhorn fans have reason to be concerned about losing their first-year star. For Kabongo’s own good and the team’s, though, there are lots of legitimate reasons for the youngster to spend another year in Austin before jumping to the next level.
Read on for a look at 10 factors that should combine to convince Kabongo that his next season should be played in a Longhorns uniform.
10. He Can Build His Leadership Resume
One of the biggest problems for Texas in the early season was keeping up the confidence of a young roster during tough road games. Junior J’Covan Brown provided a steadying hand, but Myck Kabongo is only just learning to do the same.
If Kabongo jumps to the NBA now, he’ll be spending most of his time on the bench, and that’s no place to develop the confidence to carry a team.
Another season as a college star is just what he needs to become the kind of leader an NBA club can count on.
9. His Team Is Only Going to Get Better
Even in the few months of the college basketball season, this year’s Longhorns have made substantial improvement. Tuesday’s road win over Oklahoma is just the latest indication that Texas is maturing into its impressive talent.
That growth should be more than enough to convince Myck Kabongo of what the team will be able to do if he returns for another go-round. They've got a real shot at a tournament berth this March, but the Longhorns have a chance for far more in 2012-13.
8. He Can Learn to Run the Point More Efficiently
Myck Kabongo’s biggest selling point is the 5.2 assists he’s dishing out per game in his freshman season. Even with his considerable accomplishments as a passer, though, he’s hardly a finished product when it comes to running an offense.
Kabongo is turning the ball over 3.2 times a night, giving him an unimpressive assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.6.
He needs to learn to make things happen without unnecessary mistakes, and another year of college ball will help smooth out some of those rough edges.
7. He'll Get a Real Taste of the NCAA Tournament
Texas has certainly played better as the season has gone on, but it's still a very young team with a very iffy road record. That’s not a recipe for a deep 2012 tournament run.
If Myck Kabongo comes back for another season, this team should be good enough to reach the Elite Eight, maybe even a Final Four appearance.
A good showing on that kind of postseason stage would do wonders for Kabongo’s draft position.
6. He'll Have Time to Bulk Up
Although Myck Kabongo is already 20 years old, he still has some developing to do in a purely physical sense. The 6’1” freshman is listed at a microscopic 169 pounds this season.
With so little weight on him, Kabongo will have a tough time handling contact from massive NBA forwards in the paint.
Another year’s worth of weight training—plus game experience to learn how to use his new strength—will make him a much more attractive prospect for pro teams.
5. He Can Lead Texas to a Conference Title
Right now, Texas is 7-6 in Big 12 play and needs a strong finish just to lock up an NCAA berth. A year from now, with Myck Kabongo running the point, the Longhorns are a good bet to be at or near the top of the conference standings.
Most of Missouri’s roster is graduating, as is Kansas star Tyshawn Taylor. That leaves inconsistent Baylor as the Longhorns’ primary competition for the 2013 Big 12 crown, and that’s a battle Kabongo and company have a great chance of winning.
4. He Can Prove That He's Learned from Longhorn History
Five years ago, the hotshot freshman point guard in Austin was D.J. Augustin.
In every respect, Augustin’s Longhorns debut—in which he averaged 14.4 points and 6.7 assists a night for a team that won 25 games—was superior to Myck Kabongo’s showing this year.
Even after that dazzling performance, Augustin (who came back to win All-America honors as a sophomore) took a couple of years to hit his stride in the NBA.
Even if Kabongo made it into the first round of this year’s draft, which is hardly a certainty, he’d be in for a much longer apprenticeship than Augustin's, and that time would be better spent in a Longhorns uniform.
3. He'll Have Plenty of Company
If Myck Kabongo comes back to Texas, he should be far from alone. The Longhorns have only two seniors on the roster: eminently replaceable big men Alexis Wangmene and Clint Chapman.
Even star J’Covan Brown is only a junior, and at 6’1”, Brown is enough of an NBA question mark that his return to Austin is an entirely realistic scenario.
Kabongo’s own return would give him, along with classmates Jonathan Holmes and Sheldon McClellan, a chance to build one of the best legacies in Longhorn history over the next couple of seasons.
2. He'll Get Better at Creating His Own Shots
The rise of stars such as Derrick Rose and Chris Paul has raised the bar for NBA point guards, who are increasingly expected to beat defenses with their own scoring punch as well as set up their teammates.
As effective as Myck Kabongo has been as a distributor, there’s a lot he can learn when it comes to putting points on the board himself.
Kabongo is third on his own team with an average of 9.9 points a game, and his .364 shooting percentage from beyond the arc is good but hardly world-beating.
Another season in Austin will give Kabongo a chance to develop a more effective repertoire as both a driver and jump shooter.
1. He'll Finally Get Some Help from the Low Post
While inexperience has been an issue for this season’s edition of the Longhorns, the biggest problem has been the lack of a top-notch interior presence.
If Myck Kabongo stays on campus just one more year, he’ll be joined by talent in the middle to match the rising stars on the perimeter.
Cameron Ridley, a 6'10" Texas native and one of the most highly-touted recruits in next year’s class, has already committed to Texas.
Add in Prince Ibeh and Connor Lammert—two more homegrown 6’10” talents who have signed for next season—and the Longhorns’ low-post issues will be a thing of the past in 2012-13.
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