In a city where college football is king, at the heart of a state where the entire sport of football is (to put it lightly) worshipped, the Longhorn basketball squad is in a position where they could easily be forgotten or dismissed.
However, coming off of a 74-65 victory over KSU last night, they are no afterthought.
As a matter of fact the ‘Horns, who sit alone atop the Big XII Conference, are now in prime position to grab a number-one seed come Selection Sunday.
The fifth-ranked team in the land just finished the month of February a perfect 8-0. They’ve already beaten two of the four teams ranked above them this season—one of them on the road.
D.J. Augustin, Connor Atchley, and Damion James have all played huge roles in the rise of the burnt-orange clad hoopsters, who at times look scary good.
Wanna hear the scariest part of all? All three of them could be coming off of the bench this year.
That’s right. The starting lineup could have Kevin Durant, LaMarcus Aldridge, and Daniel Gibson instead, had none of them left early for the NBA. That looks almost as good as my fantasy roster this season.
What if they’d all stayed until this year? How good could this team be? And how many other teams have the same issue?
It’s certainly a testament to the growing trend in college hoops of going one-and-done, or a bit less commonly, two-and-through. And while it gives us college fans a peek at school greatness, it’s also a source of suspense and frustration each offseason as we agonize over who our school will be keeping, and consequently, who they will need to recruit as a result of early losses.
Now it’s spreading more and more to football. Vince Young paved the way for other young Longhorn talent like Limas Sweed and Jermichael Finley to declare early. But at least VY gave us a championship before he left.
The three year buffer in football isn’t the best system in the world for the next-season strategizing fan, but it’s a step up from basketball.
I suppose it’s all a matter of gaps in talent development. For basketball that means the players who could stand to become all-time college legends are growing ever more anxious to hit the road. So despite having Final Four caliber teams and the occasional (or annual) rising superstar, don’t expect football country to convert anytime soon.