The Texas basketball program received another big time commitment on Monday, January 12 with the announcement that St. Benedict Prep and Grassroots AAU point guard Myck Kabongo has given his verbal commitment to Head Coach Rick Barnes.
Kabongo, a 6-1, 165-pound jet quick point guard has been one of the more highly sought floor generals in the 2011 class receiving offers from the likes of Florida, Villanova, Wake Forest, Kansas and Rutgers among many others.
The decision to commit on January 12 was key for the talented prospect as it is his birthday, but also because he found the connection with a head coach he’s been looking for during the process.
“I’ve been thinking about it and I was leaning to Texas for a while,” Kabongo said. “Speaking to other coaches, I didn’t feel the connection as much as I did with Coach Barnes. We’re real tight and those other coaches, I didn’t feel like we had that. I wanted that relationship with my coach and the point guard has to have that relationship with his coach,” Kabongo said.
In Kabongo the Longhorns will be getting a point guard that has some of the same characteristics of former Longhorn and current NBA point guards T.J. Ford and D.J. Augustin. Kabongo said the freedom and playing style are a perfect fit.
“The way they (Texas) play suits me perfectly. I like playing fast, pick and roll and they get you ready for the next level. People probably think I’m going to Texas because of Tristan (Thompson), and he’s like my brother, but it came down to what was best for me. It will be a bonus to play with Tristan if he’s still there but I want people to know that Texas suits me. It’s like a second home over there,” Kabongo said.
Grassroots AAU founder and head coach Ro Russell says his star pupil has know for a while he wanted to go to Texas and the job assistant coach Rodney Terry and head coach Rick Barnes did was the difference.
“He’s known for a while,” said Russell. “I asked him to wait and take more visits but he was determined. He said ‘Coach, I know where I want to go. I don’t want to waste their time.’ Rodney Terry did a great job as well as Coach Barnes and Myck’s very impressed with the strength coach Todd Wright,” added Russell.
With Kabongo and Tristan Thompson now committed from the Grassroots AAU program, a pipeline seems to be forming. Russell says Texas has been pursuing his prospects for quite a while.
“People don’t understand that Texas tried to recruit a lot of our guys over the years but hadn’t gotten anybody. They’ve put in the work to get it done with contact and establishing the relationship. They’ve done the work to justify the comments. They basically recruited the guys as if they’re seniors without breaking the rules. Some schools target you as a freshman, watch you as a sophomore and get to know you as a junior then offer as a senior. Texas has fast-tracked that process,” Russell said.
In Kabongo, the Longhorns are getting a point guard with an exceptional feel for the game and the position.
“It’s his feel. His feel doesn’t come around that much. He’s been beyond his years from day one when I first had him as a 7th grader. He wanted to play with the older guys. His intellect to read the game and know how to play and help his team, it’s extraordinary. That’s now translated to his ball handling, his ability to create and now knowing how to read time and place. He plays like he’s a college point guard,” Russell said.
Kabongo becomes the first commitment of the 2011 class for the Longhorns and becomes the latest in a terrific run of recruiting success for the Texas program.
Since Tristan Thompson, the #1 prospect in the 2010 class, picked the Longhorns on March 4, 2008, commitments from Shawn Williams, Avery Bradley, Jordan Hamilton and Daniel Bejarano have followed prior to Kabongo.
In November, Texas inked the nations #2 ranked recruiting class made up of Bradley (#10 in the 2009 class), Hamilton (#13 in 2009) and Williams (#44 in 2009).
The Longhorns already have one of the top 2010 classes if they don’t gain another commitment, which isn’t likely. Thompson is the #1 prospect in the 2010 class with Bejarano checking in at #20.
Kabongo is a near lock to be in the top 50 in the 2011 class and has chance to be in the top 25.
Check out Kabongo and future Longhorn teammate Tristan Thompson at the recent Marshall County Hoopfest tournament in Kentucky.
Tristan Thompson with Myck Kabongo in background
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