Much has been made over the last week or so of Rick Barnes’ struggles at Texas.
The consensus seems to be that Barnes has taken his foot off the accelerator on the recruiting trail, that something in his life has made him realize that his job is only that: a job.
But regardless of the reason, the results speak for themselves. Barnes hasn’t had a winning record in the Big 12 since the 2010-2011 season. He missed the NCAA tournament last year, the first time in 14 seasons at UT that he has done so, and it doesn’t look like there’s much hope for him to make the tournament this year.
The biggest reason?
His inability to tap into the talent pool currently coming through Texas. As Gary Parrish laid out here, since 2008, the only top 40 recruit that Barnes has landed from the state of Texas is Cameron Ridley. There have been 21 top 40 recruits in that time frame, but what’s more concerning is that between the 2012, 2013 and 2014 classes, there are 16 top 40 recruits, 13 of which were in the top 15 of their class. Again, Ridley is the only one that ended up at Texas.
When Barnes first built up the Longhorn program, he was doing it with in-state stars. Chris Mihm, Brad Buckman, TJ Ford, LaMarcus Aldridge and Daniel Gibson all played their high school ball in Texas. But then the talent in the state hit a dry spell. Look at the guys he missed on between 2008 and 2011: Willie Warren, Tommy Mason-Griffin, and Tony Mitchell were head cases. LeBryan Nash and Perry Jones III are superb talents that have been somewhat disappointing. Cameron Clark and Anthony Jones were, well, unremarkable.
At that same time, Barnes landed players like Avery Bradley, Jordan Hamilton, J’Covan Brown, Tristan Thompson, Cory Joseph, and a 2011 class that included three four-star recruits from Texas as well as the nation’s No. 1 point guard. When in-state talent was low, he was able to reel in players from outside the state of Texas.
But now that Texas is churning out five-star recruit after five-star recruit, he can’t get back into the mix.
He’s still got a chance to turn things around in 2014, as three of the top five in-state players — Myles Turner, Justise Winslow and Kelly Oubre — are as of yet uncommitted, but that will take some work.