Last spring Rick Barnes landed Texas’ first commit of 2010 in Tristan Thompson and less than a year later he’s landed Texas’ first commit of 2011 as well. Myck Kabongo, Thompson’s teammate at St. Benedict’s Prep in Newark, N.J. and the No. 15 overall player in the nation for 2011, has verbally committed to Texas. But Kabongo wants to make it clear that Thompson is not the main reason he’s going to be a Longhorn.
“Tristan (Thompson) is like my brother. He’s a real chill guy. We just match and I really respect him,” Myck Kabongo told Inside Texas.
But while he’s very close with his St. Benedict Prep and GrassRoots Canada AAU teammate, Kabongo says that Thompson committing to Texas was not the main reason he gave his verbal to the Longhorns as well.
“I don’t want people saying that I went to Texas just because Tristan’s going to Texas. I sat down and I thought, ‘Where would I want to go, even if Tristan’s not going there?’ I said, ‘Yes, I want to go to Texas,’” said Kabongo.
So, if not for Thompson, why did Kabongo, one of the top sophomores in the nation, commit to Texas? To sum it up: Rick Barnes.
“He’s a great coach and we’ve gotten real tight. During recruiting he always had time for me and I like what they’re doing in Austin. (Texas’) style of play fits my game real well and Rick Barnes gets point guards ready for the next level,” said Kabongo.
With three senior point guards on the roster last season (Zack Rosen, Dwan McMillan, Scott Machado), Kabongo didn’t play much as a freshman in high school. But this season he took over as the starting point guard and has led St. Benedict Prep to an 11-0 record, averaging 11 points and eight assists per game. Thanks to talented scorers, like Thompson, Kagbongo has been able to focus on ball distribution.
“I don’t need to score that much because I’ve got great players to get the ball to,” said Kabongo.
But even before the impressive start to his 2008-09 season, Kabongo was already gaining attention from the top colleges in the nation thanks to an impressive camp tour, most notably at the Reebock All-American Camp this past summer. Still, before the camp Texas was well aware of Kabongo thanks to a heads up from Thompson about an impressive high school freshman who was going to make waves as a sophomore.
As the recruiting process began, Kabongo became most interested in Texas, Kansas, Florida, Wake Forest and Villanova, who were all pursuing him. Kabongo began to call each on a regular basis and though he enjoyed talking to the other coaches, there was something about Rick Barnes and the Longhorns that clicked with him.
Rather than extend the process out Kabongo decided to take a bold step and commit to the Longhorns midway though his sophomore season, a commitment to play basketball in Austin, Tex. two and a half years from now.
“I didn’t want to wait,” said Kabongo. “I wanted to focus on school and at getting better on the court and I was ready to go ahead and give my commitment.”
Now Texas fans will have to wait a while before they’ll see Kabongo on the floor of the Erwin Center, but Kabongo said he plans on making a splash the moment he gets there.
“I think I can contribute right away and play as a true freshman,” said Kabongo. “I know if I compete and I work hard enough, I can do it.”
ESPN.com Recruiting Coordinator Antonio Williams on Kabongo:
“Coach Barnes has the ability to attract talent from all over the country, foregoing traditional recruiting ‘pipelines’. However, he may have established two gateways with this commitment from Kabongo.“St Benedict’s has one of the strongest basketball programs in the nation and now the Longhorns will have two Gray Bees on their future squads. Both Kabongo and Thompson hail from the Toronto area, giving Barnes a beat on other programs when it comes to recruiting there, which has provided a number of talented prospects for many college basketball teams recently.“Myck has unbelievable quickness and ball-handling skills, which makes him a great penetrator. His quickness makes him a perfect match for Texas’ up-tempo attack. Kabongo uses his speed to penetrate to the basket, where he uses a nice arsenal of floaters to score. He will hit jumpers from 3-point line, but he needs to become a better shooter from the perimeter.“He has good vision and passing skills, though he has a tendency to look for his own offense a little too much. Kabongo also needs to become stronger which will undoubtedly help his shooting accuracy and range.“He excels as an on-ball defender, using his outstanding lateral quickness to hound opposing guards, often picking them up in the backcourt and playing 94-feet of pressure defense.”
For more, see: Barnes Picks Up 2011 Commit