The Texas Longhorns basketball program received good news this weekend with the word that junior forward Damion James has decided to return for his senior season. With James return plus the return of a number of key contributors and an influx of immediate impact talent, the Longhorns will enter the 2009-10 season as one of the top two or three ranked teams in the country.
James, who is returning according to sources close to the program, is coming off a junior season in which he averaged 15.4 points, 9.2 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 1.0 steals per game.
As a sophomore James averaged a double double at 13.3 points and 10.3 rebounds.
James put his name in the draft April 15 without hiring an agent. At the time, the 6-7, 227-pound forward was considered to be on the bubble of the first round. After the Chicago pre-draft combine and several workouts, James was still considered to be on the bubble with more and more talk of an early second round grade.
The return of James gives the Longhorns one of the nation’s top rebounders.
The Longhorns will feature their deepest and most talented team in the Rick Barnes era in 2009-10 featuring James, center Dexter Pittman, forward Gary Johnson, point guard Dogus Balbay, experienced senior guard Justin Mason, guard Varez Ward and forwards Clint Chapman and Alexis Wangmene as well as center Matt Hill and guard Harrison Smith.
Joining the program will be three members of a top three recruiting class in guard Avery Bradley, wing Jordan Hamilton and wing Shawn Williams as well as point guard Jai Lucas, who will be eligible in December after sitting out due to NCAA transfer rules.
In James, Pittman and Bradley, the Longhorns will have three players mentioned as possible first round picks in the 2010 NBA draft. Hamilton, a 6-7.5 wing, has first round potential as well.
The 2009-10 Texas team will now return more than 80% of their rebounding and 67% of scoring from a year ago.
Port Arthur Memorial combo guard J’Covan Brown is also a possibility to join the talented team. He is currently awaiting word from the NCAA Clearinghouse.