In our Tim Preston’s Preseason Hoops Posts, he drops No. 6 with Kendal Yancy and Jordan Barnett.
Background: Kendal Yancy
● 6-foot-3, 200-lb Combo Guard
● Berkner (Richardson, TX)
● Recruited by Rob Lanier
● Ranked as the #85 overall prospect in the country
● Committed on March 30, 2013 after originally signing with USC
● Averaged 6.3 pts, 2.8 rbs, and 1.7 asts on 40/33/78% shooting in 21.3 minutes per game as a sophomore.
Two-thirds of the way through last season, there were questions about Kendal’s happiness.
He was the fourth guard in Texas’ rotation behind Taylor, Holland and Felix. He had scored 10 or more points only twice over the first 23 games of the season. He had taken more than 10 shots only twice as well.
Was this who he was? A role/bit player who could shoot, pass, defend and dribble but only for a few minutes per game?
Then the last 11 games of the season happened. Over that final section of the year, Yancy averaged 10 points, 4 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game. Including his 27 point outburst against Iowa State where he singlehandedly kept the Longhorns in it until the end.
Was this who he was? A borderline Honorable Mention All-Conference contributor who could be counted on for double digit points every night?
How Kendal Has Been Deployed Successfully: Offense
Kendal’s biggest strength is the diversity with which he can function on offense.
He’s an above average three point shooter. He’s got the height, length and athleticism to challenge the defense in space and at the rim. He’s a solid enough ball handler and passer that defenses have to account for him as a playmaker, even if only in spots.
It’s that diversity that allows him to comfortably operate as a ball side or weak side player, though, he’s still more comfortable attacking against rotation with the ball or as a shooter.
In many ways, he was an ideal fit for Coach Barnes’ offense because of his steadiness and ability to make the solid play against ball pressure or the sag.
How Kendal Has Been Deployed Successfully: Defense
If not for Holland being on the team, people would probably make a bigger deal about Yancy’s defense.
Kendal isn’t just deceptively athletic. He’s an excellent athlete.
And, he’s got the strength and length to be one of the better perimeter defenders in the Big 12.
Kendal does a great job of keeping his hips square to the ball and playing extended, using his long arms and lateral quickness to maintain contact and keep his man from turning the corner in penetration.
He also has good timing and understands the trap well (when Coach Barnes did trap, it was almost always Kendal on the top wing looking to force sideline into the trap).
When Kendal Has Struggled: Offense
For a guy who almost averaged a triple double his senior year in high school, Yancy’s biggest issues as an offensive player have largely been mental ones. I’ve had people around the program talk consistently to me about how difficult it’s been to get Kendal to be more assertive as a scorer/creator.
Some of that stems from the issues that Coach Barnes has as a communicator of his offense, but Kendal’s demeanor shoulders some of that blame as well.
Tough to criticize a kid for his personality (when it’s not a destructive one, at least), but a good portion of what’s kept Kendal from breaking out has been because of his own bearing.
When Kendal Has Struggled: Defense
In opposition to his offensive struggles, Kendal’s issues on the defensive end have been because of his aggressive nature and physicality.
It’s obvious how much pride Kendal takes from his defensive assignments, but that’s also gotten him into some trouble. In those same 11 games at the end of the year, Kendal’s forceful nature as a defender got him into foul trouble (four games with four fouls in that span and two other with three).
He also wants to apply pressure out to 24+ feet when on the ball, but that’s a dangerous game against the best offensive players because if they turn the corner, Texas’ defense has been so reactionary that it’s left the Longhorns susceptible to late rotation and perimeter shooting.
How He Fits Shaka’s Scheme: Offense
Other than Barnett (more on him below), no player on the Longhorns’ roster provides the fascination as to how Coach Smart can help his play quite like Yancy.
Shaka has exhibited a knack at pulling the best out of his players from an emotional standpoint.
If that happens, it’s exciting, because there are very few things Kendal can’t do with the basketball.
Yancy’s athleticism and explosiveness fit well with Shaka’s penchant to get the ball in to the open floor.
Yancy’s shooting ability fit well with Taylor’s ability to create spacing in the half court.
Yancy’s ability to finish at the rim fit well with Shaka’s insistence that Texas takes the action to the defense in the lane.
Yancy’s creativity with the ball, in space, make him a dangerous ball handler/creator, especially in the open floor.
All of that being said, the arrival of Davis, Roach and Mack puts the onus on Kendal to be ready to step up as an offensive player from day one. If not, his minutes and role are going to be in jeopardy.
How He Fits Shaka’s Scheme: Defense
In the diamond, Kendal can capably function in either the side interceptor or high interceptor role. Some of that will depend on how well a player like Davis, Mack or Barnett can settle into a high interceptor role (particularly because Holland should be a side interceptor whenever he’s on the floor.
In half court looks, Yancy should flourish in the spatial freedom away from the ball where he can use his athleticism and instincts to ball hawk. When on the ball, Yancy’s strength and quickness should help him when forcing the ball/action to the sideline where we can look to set up traps.
Best Case: 10.5 pts, 4 rbs, 2.5 asts, 1 stl on 43/36/80 shooting in 22 mpg.
Worst Case: 5.5 pts, 2 rbs, 1 ast, .5 stls on 40/33/75 shooting in 15 mpg
Background: Jordan Barnett
● 6-foot-6, 205-lb Forward
● Christian Brothers (St. Louis, MO)
● Recruited by Russ Springmann
● Ranked as the #86 overall prospect in the country
● Committed on August 1, 2013
● Averaged 1.9 pts, 1.3 rbs, and 0.5 asts on 33/33/100% shooting in 8.6 minutes per game as a freshman.
Barnett didn’t exactly set the world on fire in his first year on the 40 Acres. He was the last man off the bench during the nonconference season and he was, essentially, an afterthought in Big 12 and postseason play.
While none of that’s all that surprising for any freshman, it was interesting to see Barnett struggle for minutes given the nature of the roster Barnes had last season (Jordan was the only natural small forward available).
So what, if anything, will change this season?
How Jordan Has Been Deployed Successfully: Offense
Coming to Austin as a player who was considered diverse in his skill set, Jordan’s role, last year, was generally relegated to the perimeter.
Part of that was by design and part of that was because all of Texas’ perimeter players found it difficult to find space on the interior with Ridley/Ibeh/Turner/Holmes down low.
For his part, Barnett proved himself to be an adequate outside shooter. He also showed some skill as a ball mover and facilitator, including having the lowest turnover per minute ratio on the team (only one over every 20 minutes played).
How Jordan Has Been Deployed Successfully: Defense
Barnett has ideal size/athleticism/strength as a wing/combo forward defender.
He wasn’t perfect, but Jordan showed good awareness in man and was passable on the low wing in zone. He was one of the better players on the team in his ability to regain contact in his close outs. He just never really got the chance to show it in conference (tough to do when you average only 5.5 minutes per game after nonconference play).
When Jordan Has Struggled: Offense
When Barnett was becoming a top high school recruit in the country, it was his varied skill set that set him apart as a wing.
Unfortunately, we saw almost none of that last year.
Jordan floated around the perimeter, rarely attacking the basket or getting into the lane to exploit his athleticism and length (46% of Jordan’s field goals were from three, putting him behind only Lammert and Felix).
Is that an example of Barnett not having the skill set we thought he would, or not being placed into a situation where he could show those skills off?
Tough to say, but the fact remains that it’s unclear what Barnett can do at an impactful level in a high major conference given his production from last season.
When Jordan Has Struggled: Defense
As it can be for any lengthy wing player coming from high school to a school like Texas, Barnett struggled adjusting to guarding perimeter players with an athleticism/skill combination.
His quickness and body control were solid, but he often over-pursued and got into trouble when by showing big too late after his assignment’s catch, leaving him susceptible to dribble penetration.
That’s something that usually can be corrected with minutes, except that he didn’t get any.
In zone, his issues were comparable. Decent awareness and positioning, but Jordan needs to stay solid in his execution and spacing.
How He Fits Shaka’s Scheme: Offense
It can seem counterintuitive, but Smart’s uptempo, fast-paced system should allow for a more expressive, holistic look at his player’s abilities than did Barnes’ more methodical, half court offense.
For Jordan, that’s a potentially positive proposition.
Barnett possesses a skill set which includes body control on catches in traffic, a solid three point stroke, the ability to finish at the rim, solid vision in space and the capacity to create extra possessions with how he can rebound in open areas.
It’s unlikely Barnett can be a focal point of this offense. Maybe not even after a couple more years.
However, he should be capable of helping this offense, as a whole, in a do-a-little-bit-of-everything kind of role.
The biggest question mark will be whether he can provide rebounding/screening at a level where Shaka feels comfortable putting him at the four for extended minutes. If that’s possible, we could see Jordan’s minutes jump up into the 20+ range.
How He Fits Shaka’s Scheme: Defense
This is, potentially, where Jordan can make the biggest impact as he grows accustomed to Shaka’s system.
Jordan is Texas’ most athletic, true wing player who can combine lateral quickness with the height/length to play anywhere in the diamond.
He can function as the mad man and should be comfortable enough to competently be a four on offense.
He can function as a side interceptor and should be able to stay with smaller ball handlers as he builds an understanding of early positioning in the system.
He can function as the high interceptor if Texas wants to go ultra fast like with a lineup with both Holland and Roach. Barnett has the lateral quickness to play cover at mid court.
In the half court, the big question will be whether or not Barnett can effectively check opposing power forwards. The strength and conditioning work done in the spring and summer will need to have really made a difference for this to be the case.
Best Case: 7.5 pts, 4 rbs, 1.5 asts, 1 stl on 44/35/80 shooting in 21 mpg.
Worst Case: 4.5 pts, 2.5 rbs, 1 ast, .5 stls on 41/33/75 shooting in 13 mpg