Myles Turner Commits to Texas, Shrinking the Gap Between Kansas and the RestPosted by Kory Carpenter on April 30th, 2014
Rick Barnes just became a better coach this afternoon. His Texas program just secured the commitment of five-star center Myles Turner — the top uncommitted prospect in the Class of 2014 — which means the longtime Longhorns coach might have the best frontcourt in the Big 12 next season. Turner, a 6’11”, 225-pound senior, picked Texas over SMU, Kansas, Duke, Ohio State, Oklahoma State and Texas A&M, with most experts saying it came down to Texas, Kansas and SMU for his services. Turner is ranked ninth overall in his class at Rivals.com but his popularity soared over the last few months as he eventually became the last big-name recruit to commit to a school. A skinny big man with range from deep, it is no surprise that Myles, a native Texan, might now get a chance to replicate his idol Durant’s historic 2006-07 season in Austin. And if Turner does in fact have dreams of spending some time on the perimeter, Texas was clearly the school for him. It’s hard to imagine coaches like Bill Self or Larry Brown throwing Turner in at the three position and sacrificing his defensive prowess in the paint, but Barnes seems more than willing to experiment with that idea.
So what does this mean for Texas basketball next season? The Longhorns weren’t supposed to do much this year, as many wondered if Barnes was already on the hot seat before the year began. But five months later, one of the youngest teams in the country had won 24 games and playing in the third round of the NCAA Tournament. Everyone on the roster is set to return next season, including sophomore guard Isaiah Taylor, senior forward Jonathan Holmes, junior forward Cameron Ridley, and junior guard Javan Felix. Ridley could become the team’s sixth man with Turner starting at the four while occasionally showcasing his other skills on the perimeter. The trio of Turner, Ridley and Holmes would challenge Kansas for the best frontcourt in the Big 12.
As for the Jayhawks, they should be past the point of any doubt to win the Big 12 regular season title no matter what their roster looks like in April. Turner would have fit in nicely with fellow incoming freshman Cliff Alexander and junior Perry Ellis, but junior Jamari Traylor should act as a serviceable third big man, and 6’10” Arkansas transfer Hunter Mickelson should get plenty of playing time as well. There are plenty of question marks concerning the individual defense of likely starters Alexander and Ellis, question marks that would not have been as noticeable with a shot-blocker like Turner in the fold. It’s hard to predict how quickly a freshman will adjust to the speed and athleticism of the game at this level and Ellis has struggled as a defensive stopper during his first two seasons in college. Still, there is enough talent across the roster to keep the Jayhawks in place as Big 12 title favorites, but Turner’s commitment to the rising Longhorns has certainly shrunk the gap.