Texas coach Shaka Smart calls to his players during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against West Virginia, Saturday, Jan. 14, 2017, in Austin, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

BEVO BEAT Men's Basketball

As Big 12 hoops coaches recruit hard to catch up to Texas, Longhorns make another 5-star’s top 5

Posted February 9th, 2017

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On Tuesday two veteran college basketball coaches with Hall of Fame credentials spent their evenings together watching a high school player score 44 points in a gym in Norman, Okla.

The guy in a track suit is Lon Kruger. The guy who looks like a dad coming straight from the office is Bill Self. And the player is the son of former Texas Tech star Rayford Young, McDonald’s All-American point guard Trae Young.

It’s a pretty cool example of how the Big 12 coaches seem to all get along with one another (or at least Self and Kruger — two of the three most successful coaches in the conference right now — do). And as one writer pointed out, it’s also amazing that Bill Self, who grew up in Oklahoma, is trying to get a Oklahoma player to come to Kansas, while Kruger, who grew up in Kansas, is trying to get a Oklahoma player to stay in his Oklahoma hometown.

But this photo also shows just how important recruiting is at this point, and how hard these two coaches, and the rest of the Big 12, are working to catch Texas’ top-10 recruiting class. Because Texas isn’t done yet, and the rest of the league knows it.

Even with four 4-star recruits already signed or committed, Texas, currently ranked No. 7 nationally by 247 Sports, still has opportunities to add more talent to its class.

The Longhorns are a finalist for McDonald’s All-American forward Mo Bamba. The No. 3-rated player in the naton is also considering Kentucky, Duke and Michigan. According to 247 Sports, Bamba and Brian Bowen are the only remaining non-committed players who have taken official visits to Texas (of course there’s still time for Texas to add more visitors this season).

Bowen is from the same school that current big man James Banks came from, La Lumiere School in La Porte, Ind. He is a 5-star prospect and the No. 4-rated small forward in the recruiting class. On Feb. 6, Bowen released his five finalists: Texas, Michigan State, North Carolina State, Arizona and Creighton.

https://twitter.com/20tugs/status/828752357383086080

Bowen reportedly visited Austin on Nov. 25. His only other official visit since then has been to Michigan State. Despite the excitement over the commitment of talented point guard Matt Coleman last month, a commitment of a much needed true point guard, Bowen would actually be the highest-rated recruit in the class if he picked Texas. Despite the obvious log-jam of small forward/ wing players Texas currently has and could be returning, Bowen would likely be welcomed with open arms by the Longhorns.

The question is if Texas really has a shot. Michigan State recruiting reporter for Land of Ten, Luke Srodulski, reports that Bowen’s high school teammate, 5-star prospect Jaren Jackson, Jr., is hounding him to pick the Spartans.

“I’m probably really annoying to him now,” Jackson told Land of 10. “Our school’s only so big, so whether we have class together or not, I probably have half of my classes with him. And then after that, you’re seeing me in the hallway. And then we’ve got practice. And then we’ve got travel. And then we’ve got games. You’re never really gonna get away from me.”

Bowen has waffled since November, according to the same report. There was a brief suspicion that he would sign in the early  signing period. He didn’t. Then he was supposed to commit in December. He didn’t. And now fans and programs wait.

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