The University of Texas basketball team was eliminated in tough fashion yesterday by Arizona in the third round of the NCAA tournament.
With a two-point lead, Jordan Hamilton corralled a miss by Derrick Williams and for some reason we can't figure out, called a timeout. You could argue that he was close to falling out of bounds, but the replay doesn't really support that.
It was a harmless play at the time, but the ramifications were disastrous. Had he waited and got fouled, he could have made one or two free throws and either put the game out of reach or force Arizona to tie and send the game to overtime.
Either way, they would have been in a great position to win.
However, Rick Barnes decided to have Cory Joseph inbound the ball underneath Arizona's basket in a crucial situation. Joseph is a freshman.
Whether you believe the ref quickly called five seconds on Joseph or not, Barnes should still have had the presence of mind to not only put a taller person inbounding the ball, but have someone who is not in their first NCAA tournament.
ESPN timed the replay, and the ref called five seconds after 4.76 seconds had passed. The fact of the matter is, this is a judgment call and human error has to be accounted for.
However, I will say that I believe Joseph called a timeout before the ref raised his hand for the violation. If you watch the replay, Joseph looks over and calls timeout at about 4.5 seconds. It seems the ref had an agenda after he counted four seconds.
Regardless of all this, the fact of the matter is they wouldn't have been in that position had Hamilton not inexplicably called a timeout.
So with this heart wrenching loss fermenting in their heads all off season, will Hamilton and fellow projected first-round pick Tristan Thompson return for another season in hopes of bringing a title back to Texas?
If you believe what they are saying in the media, then the answer is yes.
Before the game against Arizona, Thompson repeatedly told reporters he was coming back for another season, citing playing with fellow Canadian recruit Myck Kabongo, who is the No. 9 recruit in ESPNU's top 100.
"I'm coming back another year, I've already signed up for summer classes." Thompson said. "I'll come back another year for [Kabongo]," Thompson said. "I'd love to play with him."
Texas already has two freshman who played high school ball in Canada. Thompson being one of them, and Joseph the other. They would bring a level of chemistry not matched by any other team next year, depending on who enters the NBA draft.
Multiple outlets in Austin have reported Hamilton will return for his junior season as well. "I'm coming back next year, I think we will have a great team."
Texas officials have warned fans not to get too excited, because the lore of the NBA is like the song of the Sirens—sometimes it's just too hard to resist.
They could still declare in the future.
However, with the NBA labor agreement set to end this summer, the uncertainty of an NBA season potentially being locked out could defer players from declaring early.
I applaud Thompson and Hamilton for coming back if in fact they do, college is an experience not like any other. I can't lie, as a Texas A&M alum, it wouldn't bother me if they left.
Texas will be the favorites to win next year if everyone comes back.