Rick Barnes

Rick Barnes: ‘I imagine what Roy [Williams] is going through’ waiting for NCAA decision

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It’s the end of the first semester and No. 14 North Carolina is still waiting for a decision from the NCAA on the eligibility status of guards P.J. Hairston and Leslie McDonald.

The Tar Heels have been without the duo for the first nine games of the season, and they will both likely be in street clothes for Wednesday’s game against Texas. Rick Barnes will be on the other sideline tomorrow night inside the Dean Dome, and he can understand what Roy Williams and UNC are going through.

Last season, Barnes had to wait until Dec. 21 to know whether or not he would have sophomore point guard Myck Kabongo in his lineup. Kabango was initially suspended for the season for receiving impermissible benefits. It took until late December for the NCAA to revise the suspension to 23 games.

“I imagine what Roy is going through,” Barnes told Mike DeCourcy of Sporting News on Monday. “And it’s not a lot of fun.”

Kabongo played 11 games averaging 14.6 points, 5.5 assists, 5.0 rebounds and 2.0 steals per game before going undrafted in the 2013 NBA Draft. Barnes mentioned the wait weighed heavily on Kabongo.

“I don’t think any of us really can understand the emotional stress,” Barnes added. “We are dealing with kids. This is what they love to do. It’s a big part of their lives. When it’s taken away from them, the emotional stress – it weighed on him very heavily.”

Hairston and McDonaled combined for close to 22 points per game last season. Without them in the lineup, UNC has become the most puzzling team in college basketball. The Tar Heels struggled against Holy Cross and Richmond, lost at home to Belmont, but has also defeated Louisville and Kentucky with another win over top-ranked Michigan State in East Lansing.

Texas and North Carolina tip at 7 p.m. on Wednesday night.

Texas lands commitment from top 100 center

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James Banks announced on Thursday that he has committed to Texas, joining Jacob Young in Shaka Smart’s first recruiting class as the head coach of the Longhorns.

Banks is an interesting prospect. A 6-foot-10 center from Georgia, Banks is a still-developing prospect that was recruited more on his potential than his immediate ability.

“James Banks emerged as a good low post prospect this spring and summer,” NBC Recruiting Analyst Scott Phillips said. “With a good set of hands, some offensive potential and a frame that can add weight, Banks is a nice upside grab for Texas.”

He’s probably a few years away from having a major impact in the Big 12, but he may not have that much time to develop. Cameron Ridley, Prince Ibeh and Conner Lamert all graduate after this season, meaning that Banks is going to have to contribute immediately when he sets foot on the Austin campus for the 2016-17 season.

Texas has three commitments in the Class of 2015. Smart convinced Kerwin Roach and Eric Davis to remain committed to the program when he took over for Rick Barnes while he landed a commitment from Tevin Mack, who pledged to Smart when he was at VCU.

Memphis guard could miss season with shoulder injury

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Memphis just cannot catch a break.


It’s to the point where I almost feel bad for Josh Pastner.

Today, CBSSports.com reported that Kedren Johnson, a 6-foot-4 point guard that was on track towards being an all-SEC point guard at Vanderbilt, could end up missing the season due to a shoulder injury. If he can handle the pain he can avoid surgery and play with the injury, but at the very least, Johnson is going to be less than his best.

Johnson averaged 6.7 points and 2.7 assists last season for the Tigers. He sat out 2013-14 after leaving Vanderbilt and entered last season incredibly out of shape. There was hope that he would be able to make a bigger impact this season and help fill the void at the point guard spot.

This news comes on the heels of Memphis finding out that Jaylen Fisher is heading to UNLV. Who’s Jaylen Fisher? Well, he’s a point guard and top 40 recruit from Memphis that was Pastner’s No. 1 recruiting target that opted to leave the city for his college hoops instead of play for the Tigers.

That’s a bad sign, but not quite as bad as Memphis losing star center Austin Nichols — another local kid — to a transfer over the summer. Nichols transferred to Virginia.