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Texas’ Allen to hire agent and stay in draft

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Jarrett Allen has decided that after testing the NBA draft waters, he’s ready to dive in.

The Texas freshman will hire an agent and remain in the draft, the school announced Tuesday.

“It is with mixed emotions that I announce my decision to begin the process of hiring an agent and turning professional,” Allen said in a statement released by Texas. “Throughout this basketball season, I felt I have grown as a basketball player and as a person while learning how to approach and prepare for the game.

“These experiences and my continual improvement throughout this year have provided me the opportunity of a lifetime to live my dream of playing basketball at the highest level. I have had deep discussions with my family as well as coach (Shaka) Smart in making sure this is a sound decision.”

The 6-foot-11 Allen projects as a potential lottery pick after averaging 13.4 points and 8.4 rebounds per game in his lone season in Austin. He shot 56.6 percent from the field. He attempted just seven 3-pointers on the year.

Allen came to Texas with many believing he’d ultimately go the one-and-done route, but he struggled some early before truly finding his footing late, leaving some to believe it was a real possibility he’d return to help Smart rebound from an 11-22 Year 2 with the Longhorns with four-star recruit Matt Coleman set to join the team and fill its desperate need at the point guard position.

Instead, Allen will go pro and Smart will have to await the decision of his other McDonald’s All-American freshman, Andrew Jones, who also has declared for the draft but has not hired an agent. If Jones ultimately decides to forego his eligibility and stay in the draft, Smart will be faced with a roster short on proven high-level talent.

The other scenario, though, is that Jones returns and Allen’s departure clears the way for five-star center Mo Bamba to join the Longhorns. The top-five 2017 recruit is reportedly considering Texas, Duke, Michigan and Kentucky as his collegiate destination.

 

Report: Texas’ Jones to test NBA possibility

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Both of Texas’ McDonald’s All-Americans from its 2016 class will test the NBA waters.

Andrew Jones will declare for the draft, but will not hire an agent, according to ESPN’s Jeff Goodman.

The 6-foot-4 guard joins Jarrett Allen, the Longhorns’ star center, in utilizing the rule change that became available to players last year in which they can declare, workout for teams, attend the NBA combine and still return to school.

Jones averaged 11.4 points, 3.9 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game as a freshman. He shot 42.5 percent from the field overall and 32.8 percent from 3-point range.

Allen seems the likelier candidate to remain in the draft as a potential lottery pick, but Jones came to Austin with similar one-and-done possibilities given his status as one of the class’ top recruits.

Texas, of course, is hoping both return, not just because they’re both big talents, but because incoming and highly-touted recruit Matt Coleman fills the major hole in last year’s lineup – point guard. If the three of them can share the floor together, Year 3 of the Shaka Smart era will be much more interesting.

Texas’ Allen to test draft waters

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Texas freshman Jarrett Allen will test the professional waters this spring.

The former McDonald’s All-American will declare for the NBA draft, but will not hire an agent, according to multiple reports.

Allen, a 6-foot-11 forward, averaged 13.4 points and 8.4 rebounds per game in his first college season for the Longhorns while shooting 56.6 percent from the floor.

His choice will be an interesting one as he was often seen as a likely one-and-done candidate coming out of high school, but didn’t flourish right from the tip in Austin. He did, however, continue to get better down the stretch run of the season and put up five double-doubles over the last month with three 20-plus point games.

Should he return, though, the Longhorns should be much improved, especially where they needed it the most. Matt Coleman, a four-star recruit from Oak Hill Academy, committed to Texas to give the program the point guard it so desperately needed. Should the rest of the team, including fellow freshman Andrew Jones, return to Texas, Coleman’s presence should help make everyone – and the team – much better after struggling through big portions of last season.

The 2017 draft is generally considered strong, especially at the top, as well, though it is more guard-dominated than 2018 is thought to be.

March Madness 2017: Big 12 Tournament Preview, Bracket and Conference Postseason Awards

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Big 12 Player of the Year: Frank Mason III, Kansas

Mason’s play this season makes him the no-brainer conference player of the year and perhaps the frontrunner for the national award. He’s averaging 20.5 points, 5.1 assists and 4.2 rebounds while shooting 48.8 percent from the field and a sizzling 49.3 percent from 3-point range for the potential No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA tournament.

Big 12 Coach of the Year: Bill Self, Kansas

There was a temptation to reward Brad Underwood for Oklahoma State’s turnaround, but it’s impossible not to recognize Self leading his program not only to a 13th-straight conference title, but doing it by four games in the country’s toughest league. Kansas may have the top talent in the league year in and year out, but Self’s presence on the sideline guarantees it comes together year in and year out. This season was no exception.

First-Team All-Big 12:

  • Frank Mason III, Kansas (POY)
  • Monte Morris, Iowa State: The nation’s leader in assist-to-turnover ratio is as consistent an elite presence on the floor as there is in the country.
  • Jawun Evans, Oklahoma State: The most dynamic and important piece of the country’s best offense, Evans averaged 18.7 points per game.
  • Josh Jackson, Kansas: Mason is Kansas’ MVP, but Jackson is the Jayhawks’ most difficult matchup and is a likely top-five NBA draft pick.
  • Johnathan Motley, Baylor: The big man doubled his rebounding output this season to average a double-double of 17.5 points and 10 rebounds per game.

Second Team All-Big 12:

  • Jevon Carter, West Virginia
  • Jeffrey Carroll, Oklahoma State
  • Devonte Graham, Kansas
  • Deonte Burton, Iowa State
  • Jo Lual-Acuil, Baylor

RELATED: Player of the Year | Coach of the Year | NBC Sports All-Americans

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The thought was coming into the year that the Big 12 would be down this season, but for the fourth-straight year it ranked as the country’s best conference by KenPom. Another thing that didn’t change was Kansas winning the league, making it 13 in a row for the Jayhawks. The league isn’t going to send a huge number to the NCAA tournament this season, but make no mistake, the conference’s round-robin schedule was a grind, making it all the more impressive Kansas cleared the league by four games.

The Bracket

When: March 8-11

Where: Sprint Center; Kansas City, Mo.

Final: Saturday, March 11, 6 p.m.

Favorite: Kansas

The Jayhawks are clearly the class of the Big 12, winning the conference by its largest margin since 2010. Kansas isn’t invulnerable at the Sprint Center, as the rest of the league has more than enough firepower to threaten them, but there’s no argument that makes anyone else the favorite.

And if they lose?: West Virginia

The Mountaineers should have swept Kansas this year. They rocked them in Morgantown, but blew a late lead in spectacular fashion in Lawrence later in the season. Their Press Virginia style seems to seriously bother the Jayhawks, and it could make for a raucous title game.

MORGANTOWN, WV - JANUARY 24: Head coach Bob Huggins of the West Virginia Mountaineers reacts to a call in the second half during the game against the Kansas Jayhawks at WVU Coliseum on January 24, 2017 in Morgantown, West Virginia. (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)
Bob Huggins (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)

Other Contenders:

  • Baylor: The Bears went 2-4 against the top-four of the conference, but their length and the talent of Johnathan Motley makes them an intriguing matchup
  • Iowa State: The Cyclones have won six of their last seven and three members of their core — Monte Morris, Naz Mitrou-Long and Matt Thomas — who have won two Big 12 tournament titles in their career. They’ve also have claimed wins against each of the other top teams in the league this year.

Sleeper: Oklahoma State

The Cowboys opened the Big 12 slate with six-straight losses, but then won nine of 10 before ending the season with losses to Iowa State and Kansas. Their defense is porous, but their top-ranked KenPom offense, led by point guard Jawun Evans, makes them a legitimate threat to reel off three wins in three days.

The Bubble Dwellers: One

  • Kansas State: Most projections have the Wildcats just on the bad side of the field of 68 line, which means they’ll probably have to score a win against Baylor in the quarterfinals to move the needle. Depending on what happens around the rest of the country, that one more win could be enough to earn a berth.

Defining moment of the season: Kansas erasing a 14-point deficit in the final three minutes at home against West Virginia. This is Peak Phog Allen.

CBT Prediction: Kansas

Texas’ woes continue with home loss to Kent State

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Texas has problems.

That’s not exactly new information, but the Longhorns’ issue were laid bare Tuesday as they lost at home to Kent State, 63-58, in yet another display of missed free throws, absent 3-point shooting, an inability to clean the glass and bad late-game execution for coach Shaka Smart’s squad.

Before the season, Texas looked as though it could potentially stake a claim as the league’s second-best team – behind Kansas, obviously – with incoming McDonald’s All-American freshman Jarrett Allen and Andrew Jones providing a major infusion of talent to go along with returnees like Kerwin Roach, Tevin Mack, Eric Davis and Shaquille Cleare. The loss of Isaiah Taylor was going to hurt, sure, but in what was supposed to be a down year in the Big 12, it wasn’t far-fetched to see this team contend.

Instead, just two days ahead of league play, it isn’t hard to make the argument Texas is the worst team in the Big 12.

The Longhorns’ resume up to this point had some built-in mitigating factors. Northwestern looks like it might actually get to an NCAA tournament and Colorado has been solid, so losses on a neutral floor in November aren’t major red flags. Nobody is going to feel good to a loss at home to UT-Arlington, but the Mavericks have currently won nine straight, including a victory over St. Mary’s. Setbacks to Michigan and Arkansas don’t seem to be any great sin, either.

Individually, you can reason those losses away. Taken together, though, it paints a pretty unflattering non-conference portrait of Texas. The latest brushstroke, Tuesday’s home loss to the Golden Flashes, brings all that into stark relief.

All of the Longhorns’ troubles were on full display.

Terrible 3-point shooting? Check. Texas, ranked outside the top-300 in 3-point percentage nationally, was 2 of 18 from deep, going nearly 27 minutes between makes.

Awful from the line? You bet. The Longhorns were 14 of 24 (58.3 percent) from the stripe in an effort that will drag down their already poor team mark of 67.2 percent.

Questionable rebounding ability? Rearing its head again. Texas gave up 22 offensive rebounds (over 50 percent of the Flashes’ misses) to give Kent State, which shot 37.7 percent, the leeway to spray and pray.

Late game miscues? Present and accounted for. Down by just one with 1 minute, 17 seconds left, Texas gave up an offensive rebound that led to a layup, missed inside, gave up a dunk, allowed an offensive board on a free throw and surrendered another dunk.

Texas did what Texas has done throughout much of this year, just in maybe more extreme fashion than normal.

The Longhorns appear to be primed to fall far short of preseason expectations which spells potential disaster for them in a Big 12 that looks as though it will far exceed preseason expectations. In what was supposed to be a down year, Kansas, Baylor and West Virginia all appear to be potential top-10 teams while Texas Tech, Iowa State, Kansas State, Oklahoma State and TCU have combined for just eight losses.

That would be a major problem for most coaches at a school as resource-rich as Texas, but in Austin, it might not produce more than a few grumbles from the dedicated few bona fide basketball fans. The rest of the fanbase will be too fixated in getting around-the-clock updates on what Tom Herman and the football program are up to.

At many schools, fan passion and interest is often a selling point for administrators trying to lure coaches to run their programs. At Texas, the opposite may be true. Basketball mediocrity can be tolerated long enough for a coach to find his footing while football garners the bulk of the interest and ire.

Smart’s success on the recruiting trail and his track record at VCU strongly suggest he’ll get Texas moving in the right direction, even if it take a more roundabout detour than most were expecting. The great thing about the Texas job is that many might not really take notice until those wins start arriving in a year or two.

No. 22 Texas’ backcourt struggles in loss to Colorado

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The questions coming into this season surrounding Texas’ backcourt remain not only unanswered by seemingly more pertinent to the Longhorns as they return home to Austin from Brooklyn.

Texas went 0-for-2 in its Big Apple swing with a 68-54 loss to Colorado on Tuesday, just a day after the 22nd-ranked Longhorns fell by 19 to Northwestern in the Legends Classic.

The backcourt figured to be an issue for the Longhorns after Isaiah Taylor, somewhat surprisingly, decided to jump to the NBA early, ultimately going undrafted. Against the Buffaloes, Kerwin Roach led the Longhorns in scoring with 16 points, but needed 6 of 16 shooting from the floor, including 1 of 4 from 3-point range to get there. Eric Davis went 3 of 11 from the field (1 of 6 from deep) while Kendal Yancy was 0 of 3 overall.

If your starting backcourt goes 9 of 30 from the field and 2 of 11 from 3-point range, you’re going to have problems. And that came on the heels of that starting trio going 7 of 20 from the floor in the blowout loss to Northwestern.

There’s little reason to panic for the Longhorns, though, given how early it is and the talent on the roster. Davis and Roach are both just sophomores both being asked to take over bigger roles this season.Ultimately, Texas is going to be leaning on its McDonald’s All-American freshmen, Andrew Jones and Jarrett Allen, to be significant contributors once Big 12 play starts. The Longhorns have some time for their backcourt to adjust to new roles and for the team to develop an identity with so many new players and people with new responsibilities.

As for Colorado, it was an impressive response from a narrow loss the previous night to Notre Dame. Derrick White hit 7 of 10 shots for 16 points while George King was 5 of 9 for 12. The Buffaloes corralled 17 offensive rebounds as well, and are increasingly looking like a potential contender with the three teams – Oregon, Arizona and UCLA – considered to be at the top of the Pac-12, especially with Arizona’s issues.