Three of Texas' athletic stars this year included (top left) wide receiver Collin Johnson, who led the football team in catches and receiving yards; (top right) hurdler Rushelle Burton, who won Big 12 indoor and outdoor titles; (bottom) and basketball player Ariel Atkins, who was drafted by the WNBA. (American-Statesman staff)

Athletics

Revisiting the Texas Ten: How did our top preseason UT athletes to watch fare this year?

Posted June 22nd, 2018

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Last August, the American-Statesman picked 10 Longhorns student-athletes to watch during the 2017-18 academic year, our inaugural Texas Ten.

We came up with the list by looking at an athlete’s importance to his or her team as well as the athlete’s career arc. “No one player determines the success of an entire season,” we wrote. “But if all 10 play well, the Longhorns are far more likely to win championships.”

Here’s how our Texas Ten fared:

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Ariel Atkins, women’s basketball

Senior guard Ariel Atkins (23), shown talking with head coach Karen Aston, ended her UT career ranked No. 4 in career free throw percentage and No. 6 in three-point percentage in school history. JAY JANNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Texas coach Karen Aston needed a leader, and Atkins delivered. She led the team in scoring (14.9 points per game) and shot 42 percent from 3-point range, pairing with fellow senior Brooke McCarty to help the Longhorns reach the Sweet 16 for the fourth straight year.

Texas went 108-32 overall in Atkins’ four years. She started 100 career games, scored in double figures 81 times and finished her career ranked 20th in school history in scoring, fourth in career free-throw percentage and sixth in career three-point percentage.

Atkins earned honorable mention All-American honors and ranked No. 2 in the Big 12 in steals. The 5-11 guard from Duncanville is now playing for the Washington Mystics of the WNBA, scoring in double figures in eight of her first 12 games.

“I thank God for opening up a lot of doors for me since I’ve been here, and the stage is set for our younger players to take off,” Atkins said in April, after the Longhorns’ Sweet 16 loss to UCLA. “We came here with a mindset that we were going to get Texas back to where it needs to be.”

Haley Berg, soccer

There were sky-high hopes for Berg, a 5-6 freshman midfielder from Celina, after a standout club career. She was the state’s No. 2 overall prospect her senior year and had made the Team USA Under-18 national roster.

Texas freshman Haley Berg (2) has gotten off to a solid start in her Longhorns career. She was second on the team with six goals this season. (UT ATHLETICS)

Berg, who famously committed to Texas as an eighth grader, started out hot, scoring just 25 seconds into the Longhorns’ season opener against Rice. In all, she tallied six goals — the second-most on the team — along with four assists.

Texas, with only two seniors but 18 freshmen or sophomores, enjoyed a bounce-back season, going 14-4-3 and reaching the third round of the NCAAs. Berg was the Big 12’s freshman of the year.

“She’s a special talent and we’ve been excited to get Haley Berg on the Forty Acres for the past four years,” UT coach Angela Kelly in October, referring to Berg’s middle school commitment.

“I think stepping into the college environment, she’s assimilated herself extremely well,” Kelly added. “When she’s coming in with this skill set with still a lot more to bring to the table, that’s kind of exciting for her and her career.”

Rushelle Burton, women’s track

As a freshman in 2017, Burton became the fastest freshman in NCAA history, ripping through the 100-meter hurdles in 12.65 seconds to finish third. The sophomore from Jamaica followed that up by winning Big 12 indoor and outdoor titles this year and may get even faster under new UT track coach Edrick Floréal.

Matt Coleman, men’s basketball

Texas guard Matt Coleman (2) celebrates a basket during a NCAA college basketball game against Oklahoma in Austin, Texas, on Saturday, Feb. 3, 2018. NICK WAGNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Upon his arrival, Coleman was hailed as a savior at point guard, a position of dire need for the Longhorns. The 6-2, 180-pound freshman from Virginia averaged 10.2 points and 4.1 assists per game for Texas, which went 19-15 and fell to Nevada in overtime in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

Coleman scored a career-high 25 points in the NCAA loss. Before that, his jumper in the final minute sealed a 68-64 win over Iowa State and he held Oklahoma’s Trae Young to a 7-of-22 shooting performance.

He also hit the game winner against Tennessee State and helped Texas beat Alabama by putting the clamps on the Tide’s Collin Sexton the way he did OU’s Young. He’ll be an integral cast member next season.

“As a point guard, you have to have the face of confidence so others can feed off you,” Coleman told the Statesman in February after the Longhorns’ 79-74 upset of OU.

Doug Ghim, men’s golf

Ghim, who was the runner-up at the U.S. Amateur last summer, had a magical final season — six top-10 finishes in nine events, winner of the Ben Hogan Award, finishing as the low amateur at The Masters with two eagles in a five-hole span in the first round at Augusta, and the Big 12 championship medalist.

“Doug’s had a remarkable career,” UT coach John Fields said the week of The Masters. “He’s been an All-American and has become one of the best players in college golf. Doug weathered the storm at the U.S. Amateur of what was the best putting exhibition I’ve ever, ever seen in golf from Doc Redman. That pointed out the resilience of Doug.”

Ghim has gone professional. In May, he became the top-ranked golfer in the World Amateur Golf rankings. This week he played his first professional tournament at the Travelers Championship.

Collin Johnson, football

One of UT’s most talented receivers, Johnson led the Longhorns in receiving yards (765) and had two touchdowns. He opened the season by making only his second career start, catching seven passes for 125 yards and a touchdown at home against Maryland. That also was his first 100-yard game.

Texas wide receiver Collin Johnson (9) outruns a Kansas State defender during the second half on Oct. 7, 2017. Texas defeated Kansas State 40-34 in double overtime. NICK WAGNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Johnson became the 24th Longhorn to catch 50 passes in a season; his 54 total were the 19th most in a single season. And he came up big in one of Texas’ most important games — tying his career high with seven catches for 191 yards (another career high) at USC, his 191 yards the fourth-best receiving game in UT history and the most for a road game.

But overall, the passing game was inconsistent and Texas finished 7-6.

Johnson will be a junior this fall.

“Clean slate,” Johnson told the Statesman in April. “You’ve got to forget everything that happened last season. … I definitely want to be that elite guy, but it’s taking it day by day. I don’t want to worry too much about the future. I’ve got to worry about how I can get better in that film study, how I can get better on the practice field, how I can be a better teammate to my teammates, how I can be a better leader to some of the younger guys … I think it’s all those little things stacked on top of each other, and that’s what I’m working on.”

Nolan Kingham, baseball

Kingham, coming off a solid sophomore season in 2017 — going 10-4 on the mound, lasting at least seven innings in seven Big 12 starts and pitching a gem against UCLA in the regional — emerged as Texas’ Friday-night starter, compiling an 8-5 record with three saves as the Longhorns won the Big 12 and made it to the College World Series.

Texas’ Nolan Kingham celebrates a final pitch for a 5-2 win over Tennessee Tech during an NCAA Super Regional at UFCU Disch-Falk Field in Austin, Monday, June 11, 2018. (Stephen Spillman / for American-Statesman)

It was a roller-coster season for the junior. Kingham twice was named the Big 12’s pitcher of the week and won six straight starts from April to mid-May, but he was left off the all-conference team after failing to last more than two innings against Kansas State and Baylor and getting scratched from a start against Oklahoma for violating a team academic attendance rule.

But the next day he was solid in a four-inning relief appearance against the Sooners, then threw a complete game against TCU in the final weekend as the Longhorns chased Oklahoma State for the conference title. He was solid against Oklahoma in the Big 12 tournament and pitched Texas past Texas A&M in the regional.

He was a 12th-round pick of the Atlanta Braves in this month’s MLB draft. He announced Thursday that he will not return for his senior season.

“I grew up watching Texas win and hosting regionals and hosting super regionals,” Kingham said as the Longhorns prepared for Tennessee Tech in the super regional. “I dreamed as a kid to be in that position one day.”

Chiaka Ogbogu, volleyball

Ogbogu, who was a first-team All-American in 2015 before missing the 2016 season because of academic reasons, finished strong in her final year. She left as UT’s all-time leader in blocks, earned another first-team All-American nod and was the Big 12’s player of the year. Her 174 blocks were the fifth-most in school history.

Texas went 111-12 in Ogbogu’s four seasons, including three Final Fours and a 2015 national runner-up finish. She is playing professionally in Italy.

Longhorns senior Joseph Schooling ranked tops in the NCAA in his specialty, the 100-yard fly. The 2016 Olympic gold medalist won three butterfly races at the Big 12 championships. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

Joseph Schooling, men’s swimming

Schooling, who bested Michael Phelps for the 100-meter butterfly gold medal in the 2016 Rio Olympics, helped lead Texas to its fourth straight NCAA national championship.

He also won three events at the Big 12s, all in the butterfly (the 100, 200 and swimming the anchor on the 200 freestyle relay).

Schooling, from Singapore, is looking ahead to the 2020 Olympics. He just won the 200-meter butterfly at the Singapore national championships on Thursday.

Sophia Schubert, women’s golf

Schubert, like Ghim, was sensational. She became the program’s first first-team All-American since 1997. She had seven top-10 finishes and finished tied for 21st at the NCAAs, a career best.

In the summer of 2017 she became the first Longhorn since Kelli Kuehne in 1996 to win the U.S. Women’s Amateur, beating Albane Valenzuela — the world’s No. 3-ranked amateur player and a former Olympian — in the final.

Schubert played eight tournaments in her final season, breaking her own school record for single-season stroke average (71.76) and producing five top-five and seven top-10 finishes in her eight events. She was the first Longhorn since 2011 to win the Betsy Rawls Invitational and finished a career-best 21st at the NCAA championship.

The Texas Ten: Our next 15

When we identified our 10 UT athletes to watch back in August, we also listed 15 others who didn’t make our list but definitely were worth watching. Here’s how their seasons went:

ATHLETESPORTNOTE
Mo BambaMen's basketball12.9 ppg, 10.5 rpg; Big 12 newcomer, defensive teams; drafted 6th overall
Shane BuecheleFootballWent 5-2 in 7 starts at QB; 137-213-1,405 with 7 TDs
Teahna DanielsWomen's track10th in the NCAA 60-meter indoor (won it in '16), 2nd in the Big 12s
Taylor EllsworthSoftballStarted every game at C or DH, hit .244 (.394 in 2017), 5 HRs, 22 RBIs, led UT in walks
Alison GibsonWomen's diving2017 NCAA 1-meter diving champ won the Big 12 1-, 3-meter events
Townley HaasMen's swimmingThe 200-free NCAA, Big 12 recordholder scored in the 100 free (6th), 400 free relay (4th) for UT's 4th straight NCAA title
David HamiltonBaseballDefensive whiz hit .291, 5 HRs, 37 RBIs with a second straight .964 fielding percentage for CWS-qualifying Horns
Yuya ItoMen's tennisEarned All-American honors again, went 15-4 (14-7 in 2017) and made it to the NCAA round of 64 in singles
Brooke McCartyWomen's basketballHon. mention All-American, All-Big 12 for third straight year; 13.6 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 4.4 apg
Malcolm RoachFootball37 tackles, 2 sacks (had 3 in 2017); played in all 13 games with 3 starts
Alex RogersCross countryIndoor: Mile, distance medley relay wins at the Big 12s; cross country: 8th in Big 12s, 3rd at regionals, 128th at NCAAs
Scottie SchefflerMen's golf8 top-25s in 11 events, with 5 straight top-11s; T-5th at Big 12s, 4th at Raleigh Regional
Mariam SoufiRowingEarned All-American honors again, helped UT to a best-ever 3rd-place finish at the NCAAs
Lexi SunVolleyballThe nation's top recruit in 2017 earned first-team All-Big 12 honors --- but then decided to transfer out. She's at Nebraska now.
Bianca TuratiWomen's tennisWent 28-4 (9-7 in 2017), was the Big 12's player of the year, an All-American and made it to the 2nd round of the NCAAs

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