|Texas sophomore Myck Kabongo is being investigated for receiving improper benefits from an agent. (burntorangenation.com)|
Texas sophomore guard Myck Kabongo is the latest college athlete to be investigated for his involvement with an agent, and if wrong-doing is found, it will be the team that will pay the biggest price.
The NCAA is reviewing Kabongo's relationship with agent Rich Paul, who represents LeBron James, and if Paul paid for a trip to Cleveland and a workout for Kabongo last May. Kabongo has yet to be ruled ineligible and is practicing with the team.
But should the NCAA find that Kabongo received improper benefits from Paul, he could be ruled ineligible for a portion of the season. This is a punishment the Longhorns can't afford.
Kabongo is just a sophomore, but on a team with only two seniors and no juniors, Kabongo will be looked at as one of the leaders. His numbers as a freshman were good, but many expected him to blossom in his second year. He averaged 9.6 ppg last season — good for the third highest on the team — and lead the team with 5.2 assists per contest.
One of the reasons his numbers should improve is there will be more shots to go around with the departure of leading scorer J'Covan Brown. Brown averaged 20.1 ppg and in doing so took 535 shots, nearly double the amount of any other teammate.
Without Kabongo in the lineup, Texas could have trouble finding people to score, and with their non-conference scheduling, this could lead to losses. The chances are if Kabongo is suspended, it will not be for the majority of the season, which is good for Texas with Kansas and Baylor waiting early on in conference play. But Rick Barnes likes to challenge his team early in the season, and Kabongo will need to be on the floor.
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The Longhorns' December schedule looks like a murderer's row of blue-blood programs. After facing Georgetown and UCLA in a four-day span in early December, Texas has back-to-back games just two games later against North Carolina and Michigan State before Christmas. It's tough enough to survive that stretch at full strength, but without Kabongo, the Longhorns might be happy coming away with two wins.
A ruling has not yet been made, so right now this is all a worst-case scenario. But Texas fans should hope a ruling comes quickly if the decision holds Kabongo out of games. That way maybe he just misses the month of November.
Because the longer the ruling takes, and the closer it gets to that December gauntlet, the more worried Texas should be to make it into conference play without a few L's.