Ioannis Papapetrou

Ioannis Papapetrou signed a professional contract with Olympiacos B.C. last Tuesday, forgoing his three remaining years of elgibility at Texas. 

Photo Credit: Lawrence Peart | Daily Texan Staff

Texas’ leading returning scorer, Ioannis Papapetrou signed a professional contract to play overseas with Olympiacos B.C. last Tuesday, leaving the Longhorns before the start of his sophomore season. 

The deal is for five years and worth approximately $2 million, according to an ESPN report.

Papapetrou had a strong summer overseas playing for the Greek national team, averaging 15.9 points and 5.3 rebounds per contest. Greek teams had overwhelmed Papapetrou with professional offers earlier this summer, but he had spurned any deals up to this point. However, this contract appeared to be too enticing to pass up. 

“The professional team in Greece approached Papi and his family again this week before he was set to leave to come back to campus, and the team basically created a contract that catered exactly to his needs and the wishes of his family,” said Texas head coach Rick Barnes in a statement. “In the end, the contract was too much for him and his family to say ‘no’ to in their situation.”

Papapetrou is the latest of four players to leave the Longhorn basketball program, including point guard Myck Kabongo, who left Texas early for the NBA draft.

Papapetrou, a would-be sophomore, was set to be a key piece for a young Texas squad that finished 16-18 last season and seventh in the Big 12 with a 7-11 mark. It was the first time in the Rick Barnes era that the Longhorns missed the NCAA tournament.

This leaves Texas with 11 scholarship players on its roster, only one of whom is an upperclassmen, forward Jonathan Holmes. The Longhorns’ top four scorers from last season are no longer with the team, leaving point guard Javan Felix, who averaged 6.8 points a contest last year, as the offensive catalyst.

Outside of Holmes and Felix, Texas will lean heavily upon the post presence of its trio of Cameron Ridley, Connor Lammert and Prince Ibeh. Freshman shooting guard Damarcus Croaker will also factor heavily into Texas’ offensive plans.

Guard Julien Lewis will likely be the go-to player if he decides to return to Texas to help the team rebuild next season. 

Photo Credit: Lawrence Peart | Daily Texan Staff

For Rick Barnes, the end of the year means putting a 16-18 record behind them and shifting focus to the future. It also means figuring out who’s going to be on his team. 

Thursday night at the Longhorns’ basketball banquet, Barnes addressed the state of flux around the status of Myck Kabongo, who says he hasn’t decided whether to return for his junior season or head to the NBA.

“Our whole feeling was, in [Myck’s] mind, he wanted this to be his last year,” Barnes said before Thursday night’s team banquet. “He might be decided. Who knows, he might have decided a long time ago.”

Barnes will have a lighter load on hand for offseason workouts after Jaylen Bond and Sheldon McClellan both announced plans to transfer. Julien Lewis, a junior in the fall, is still contemplating his future. Should Lewis stay with the Longhorns, rather than transfer or test his game overseas, he’d likely be the top scorer.

“I think I can be that go-to guy and play more of my game,” Lewis said. “I just need to be more aggressive, attack the rim more and not settle for jump shots.”

Teammate Ioannis Papapetrou is counting on Lewis to return.

“Julien is a great guy, and his decision is about what’s best for him and his family,” Papapetrou said. “Right now he’s just thinking and sometimes he’s not with us in practice but I’m confident he will be with us next year.”

If Lewis does not return to Texas for his junior season, the Longhorns are left with seven returning scholarship players. It’s not starting from scratch, but Texas faces another uphill battle in order to finish among the Big 12’s best. Texas finished seventh in the conference this year with a 7-11 record in the Big 12.

“Next year won’t get here soon enough,” Barnes said. “There wasn’t any momentum or consistency this year, but I can tell you there has been a lot more energy surrounding practices and workouts this spring.”

The player who might make a big jump forward is point guard Javan Felix, who logged a healthy amount of minutes as a freshman in place of the suspended Kabongo. Next year he’s expected to get more reps and to produce better results.

“When Javan came in for Myck at the beginning of the year he didn’t know left from right,” Barnes said. “Even though he’s a tough kid, he felt the weight of the world.”

Felix remains firm in his belief that this Texas team can make a return to the NCAA Tournament, which he admitted was a tough event to watch from home rather than competing in.

“We owe it to all the guys that came before us,” Felix said. “Coach Barnes wants me to work on getting my shot up quicker, to play better defense and just be a better point guard. This year there were times when we thought we were working hard, but you look back and realize it wasn’t hard enough. That’s what we’re going to be able to tell the new guys coming in this off-season — work harder than you ever have before.”

Sophomore Sheldon McClellan goes up for a shot past a Baylor defendor during Texas’ Monday night win. McClellan scored 23 points off the bench for the Longhorns as the struggling Texas team celebrated Senior Night on its last home game of the season. 

 

Photo Credit: Shelby Tauber | Daily Texan Staff

Baylor was the team that desperately needed a win. Texas, with no hope of earning a NCAA Tournament at-large bid, was the team with nothing to lose. 

But on Senior Night, it was the Longhorns who came out on top. For the first time this year, they had three players score more than 15 points in a game, as beating Baylor, 79-70, at the Frank Erwin Center on Monday night. 

Was it the Longhorns’ best performance this year?

“From a team standpoint, mentally and physically, no doubt,” head coach Rick Barnes said. “They never flinched. That’s the way we want to play.” 

The Longhorns are now 4-3 since Myck Kabongo’s return. He scored 19 points and had eight assists, while committing just one turnover.

Sheldon McClellan played just seven minutes and was held scoreless in Saturday’s loss to Oklahoma State, marking the third time McClellan played fewer than 10 minutes this year and didn’t score.

McClellan scored at least 15 points in each of the last two games following contests where we was held scoreless. On Monday he scored 23 points on 9-for-14 shooting, including a 3-for-6 mark from beyond the arc. 

“I don’t really think about it,” McClellan said of being benched. “I just move on to the next game and help my team get a win.”

Ioannis Papapetrou scored a career-high 18 points Monday, shooting 7-for-13 from the floor and knocking down a pair of three-pointers, none bigger than the one he drilled with 4:13 to play in the second half. 

On a night the Longhorns honored their two lone seniors, Andrew Dick and Dean Melchionni, both former walk-ons, it was a pair of freshmen who combined for the play of the game. 

With Texas holding a one-point lead, Papapetrou missed a layup, but Cameron Ridley tipped out the rebound to Papapetrou, who calmly knocked down a three-pointer from the corner to give the Longhorns a 61-57 lead. Texas never trailed again. 

“We knew we had a mismatch with me playing forward and a bigger guy guarding me, so I was trying to drive and get a layup,” Papapetrou said. “When Cam was getting the rebound, I was going out. When he passed me the ball, I was open. I didn’t hesitate.”

The Longhorns still need to win the Big 12 tournament to reach their 15th straight NCAA Tournament.

But for now, they can celebrate what may have been the decisive blow to Baylor’s chances of playing in the Big Dance.

“There will probably be two or three teams that you haven’t talked about that are going to do something that’s not expected,” Barnes said. “It happens every year. Are we capable of doing that? No question.”

Why Texas Won-  Myck Kabongo rebounded from an off-game and turned the Longhorns’ offense up a notch. His eight assists helped spread out the Baylor defense and as his teammates knocked down shots, Kabongo also continued to penetrate the lane and score at will. Sheldon McClellan didn’t start the game, but his 23 points off the bench set the tone for Texas offensively. Ioannis Papapetrou’s career-high 18 points gave the Longhorns the scoring punch they have been searching for all year.

 

First Half- Kabongo and McClellan combined to score 20 of the Longhorns’ 36 first-half points. Cameron Ridley came out of his shell, making strong moves around the basket that led to eight free throw attempts. While he only hit four of those attempts, Ridley was in the center of the action and showed some signs of promise with the offseason looming. Baylor’s Pierre Jackson led all scorers at the break with 13 points, as the Bears ended the half down two points.

 

Second Half- McClellan and Papapetrou scored 27 combined second-half points as the Longhorns retained better possession of the ball on offense. Texas coughed the ball up just twice in the second half and continued making shots when it needed them. Ridley made a couple of huge plays late in the game, including a nasty one-handed stuff in Isaiah Austin’s face. Austin scored 15 points for the Bears and Jackson finished with 22. 

 

Stock Up-

Ridley- The freshman’s final line of eight points and five rebounds doesn’t jump off the page, but his hustle is what made a difference in the game. Ridley’s four offensive rebounds were a game high and he seemed to thrive around the rim, even making a dive for a ball heading out of bounds before he tipped it to Papapetrou for a big three-pointer.  

 

By the numbers-

7-3 The Longhorns’ record when McClellan and Papapetrou both reach double-figure scoring. Their 41 combined points Monday are the most by the pair this season.

8- The lowest turnover total for Texas this year. Their previous low came Feb. 19 at TCU with nine turnovers.  

4- Minutes played for freshman Javan Felix, a season low. 

 

What’s Next- The Longhorns will land in Lubbock this weekend for their final conference game of the regular season. A win against the Red Raiders would lift the Longhorns’ record to just a game below .500, likely increasing their seed in the Big 12 Tournament.

Texas guard Ioannis Papapetrou is averaging 11.8 points and 5.5 rebounds per game in the month of February. 

Photo Credit: Lawrence Peart | Daily Texan Staff

It wasn’t his fault two weeks ago when Texas was dominated by Oklahoma State and lost for the eighth time in 10 games.

Ioannis Papapetrou scored 15 points, grabbed seven rebounds, dished out four assists, recorded four steals and blocked two shots — all team highs — in the 72-59 loss to the Cowboys on Feb. 9. But he was the one expressing remorse for his team’s effort in the defeat.

“I want to apologize for the effort we showed today. … We are embarrassed,” Papapetrou said after the game. “Guys aren’t buying in to what we want to do — offensively and defensively. I don’t think we know how to play as a team.”

Papapetrou promised a better performance in Texas’ next game against Iowa State and the Longhorns delivered. Myck Kabongo made his season debut and Jonathan Holmes returned to the lineup, but it was Papapetrou who stole the show when he drained a deep three-pointer to tie the game against the Cyclones and send it to overtime. Behind Sheldon McClellan’s 10 points in the second overtime period, Texas took down Iowa State, 89-86.

“I felt it,” Papapetrou said. “It was just another shot. I was open and I shot it.”

His shot helped propel the Longhorns to a thrilling win over a solid Iowa State team, a piece of silver lining in what has been an overall dismal season. Texas is 12-14 with just four wins in Big 12 play and only five regular season contests left, all of which the Longhorns could lose.

The first of those five comes against Kansas State, a team that handed Texas an 83-56 shellacking in Manhattan on Jan. 30, the program’s worst road loss against a Big 12 squad. Papapetrou struggled in that game, scoring nine points and committing a game-high five turnovers while battling foul trouble all night.

“Good teams will make you get the ball,” head coach Rick Barnes said after the loss last month. “You look at the turnovers, Papapetrou had five. When we drive the ball in with two people close we do not deliver the ball where it needs to be delivered.”

Papapetrou has come a long way since that crushing loss to Kansas State. The 6-foot-8 swingman from Greece is averaging 11.8 points and 5.5 rebounds per game in six games this month.

It only took them three months, but when the Longhorns finally picked up their first road win in a 68-59 win in Fort Worth over TCU, Papapetrou once again led the way. He scored a team-high 15 points while hitting four of eight attempts from beyond the arc and helping Texas sweep its season series with the Horned Frogs.

The Longhorns will need another strong performance from Papapetrou to have any chance of taking down a 21-5 Kansas State team that has won six of its last seven games.

“Every time I shoot the ball, it’s going to be a good shot,” Papapetrou said. “Every time you shoot it, you have to think it’s going to go in. That’s what I did.” 

Published on February 22, 2013 as "Papapetrou sorry for struggles, ready for KSU after solid month". 

Texas head coach Rick Barnes looks on as his Longhorns fall by 26 points to Kansas. 

Photo Credit: Lawrence Peart | Daily Texan Staff

LAWRENCE, Kan. -- Texas will have to wait another year to steal a win at Allen Fieldhouse after getting pummeled, 73-47, by Kansas on Saturday night. The loss drops the Longhorns to six games behind the Jayhawks (21-4, 9-3) in the Big 12 standings and to an overall record of 11-14 on the year. The Longhorns have lost all six of their Big 12 road games.

Texas’ 21.8 shooting percentage is the worst such mark in the Rick Barnes era (1998-present). The Longhorns made just two of their 21 three-point attempts and committed 16 turnovers in a game that could have ended up a lot worse.

“You can’t coach making shots,” Barnes said. “All the things we talked about that we wanted to do, we didn’t do.”

Myck Kabongo scored a team-high 13 points, with nine of those points coming from the free-throw line. Connor Lammert had seven points in the first half, but scored just two more points before fouling out with under four minutes left in the game. After showing some signs of improvement in recent games, freshmen Demarcus Holland and Ioannis Papapetrou combined for just eight points. Fellow freshman Cameron Ridley whiffed on all five of his free throw attempts and, like Javan Felix, failed to score a single point.

The Jayhawks’ starters combined for 61 points, led by Jeff Withey and Travis Releford, who scored 15 points each. Withey rounded out a double-double with 11 rebounds and two blocks, the second of which moved him into sole possession of the Big 12 all-time block record with 265 career rejections. The record was previously held by Texas’ Chris Mihm.

“We had an emphasis on trying to get inside more but the outside shots kept coming open and we couldn’t make them,” Lammert said.

For much of the game the Jayhawks’ defensive pressure forced the Longhorns into hurried shots inside the lane, turnovers and eventually back-to-back shot-clock violations.

“We did a good job making them uncomfortable shooting the ball in the second half,” Releford said.

Withey had a lot to do with Texas’ alarmingly low field goal percentage, but senior guard Elijah Johnson thinks the Jayhawks can get even more from the seven-footer.

“Frustration sets in for other teams when they have to take a detour around Jeff,” Johnson said. “We know how to use Jeff but right now we’re not doing it.”

Kansas scored 38 points in the paint, thanks in large part to Withey’s presence around the rim and Releford’s 4-of-5 night shooting from behind the three-point line. Freshman Ben McLemore picked Kabongo’s pocket late in the second half, taking the ball the length of the court and finishing with a 360-degree dunk that sent the home crowd in to all-out chaos. McLemore finished with 13 points.

“When they make shots and the crowd gets going it’s really hard to stop them,” Papapetrou said.

Damarcus Holland attempts a basket during the Longhorns’s 72-59 loss against Oklahoma State on Feb. 9.  Myck Kabongo and Jonathan Holmes will both return to the court as Texas faces Iowa State Wednesday.  

Photo Credit: Shelby Tauber | Daily Texan Staff

There may never be a clear explanation as to what exactly happened in the offseason with Myck Kabongo, Tristan Thompson and an infamous workout that caused more trouble than it could ever be worth.

“When I went to Cleveland last summer, I did not intend to break any rules and did not believe I had broken any,” Kabongo said in a statement released Monday.

One thing is certain — it’s in the past, and now Kabongo has been relinquished of his suspension so he can lead Texas to the promised land.

Or something like that.

All allegories aside, Kabongo gives Texas something it has sorely needed all year: leadership. Sheldon McClellan has not answered the call, Jonathan Holmes, who will return from a broken right hand that kept him out for the last three weeks, is more of a soft-spoken individual and Julien Lewis hasn’t made enough of an impact for his teammates to get behind anything he might have to say. Of all the members of the Longhorns’ vaunted sophomore class, Kabongo is the one that has the “it” factor. He won’t lead the team in scoring on most nights, and he isn’t going to pull down more than a few stray rebounds, but what he offers goes beyond statistics and delves into the emotional side of the game.

“Myck plays really hard,” freshman forward Ioannis Papapetrou said. “He has a year of experience and he is really going to help our guys.”

He’s a leader, plain and simple.

“He’ll make mistakes,” head coach Rick Barnes said. “But the one thing I know he’s going to do is play with effort, he’s going to be fearless and where he’s improved is he really wants to be coached.”

No disrespect to Javan Felix, but he was thrown into a situation he could only make worse. And for the lack of a better explanation, that’s pretty much what he accomplished through 23 games as a true freshman. The Longhorns’ 10-13 record is evidence enough. No one expected Felix to play nearly every minute of every game this year, and although he has been productive in spurts, for the most part he has failed to lead this Texas team.

Texas will need all the leadership it can corral when it faces Iowa State tonight. After being on the wrong end of an 82-62 blowout Jan. 12 in Ames, Iowa, the Longhorns will attempt to even the season series with the Cyclones at one game apiece.

Easier said than done.

In its 20-point shellacking of Texas at Hilton Coliseum back in January, Iowa State shot more than 40 percent from three-point range and controlled the game from buzzer to buzzer. Former Michigan State point guard Korie Lucious flirted with a double-double, dishing out nine assists to go with his 10 points. Freshman forward Georges Niang led all scorers with 18 points, and guards Will Clyburn and Tyrus McGee added 16 and 15 points, respectively.

The Longhorns outrebounded the Cyclones on the offensive glass, but the game’s biggest disparity came from Texas’ bench. McClellan, Texas’ leading scorer, performed his first disappearing act of the year, playing a single, scoreless minute. McClellan may be relegated to the pine once again to start the game against the Cyclones, but if the Longhorns are to get back on track he’s going to be called upon to score some buckets in crunch time.

“We need Sheldon to score,” Barnes said. “That’s what he does.”

Published on February 13, 2013 as "Holmes, Kabongo return". 

Freshman guard Javan Felix fights off an Oklahoma State defender in the Longhorns’ 72-59 loss to Oklahoma State on Saturday afternoon. Felix gave up eight turnovers before fouling out in the second half.

Photo Credit: Shelby Tauber | Daily Texan Staff

Following the Longhorns’ 72-59 loss to No. 22 Oklahoma State on Saturday afternoon, Texas head coach Rick Barnes summed up his team’s performance in three words before elaborating on the state of Texas basketball.

“I was baffled,” Barnes said. “That wasn’t a pretty game any way you look at it.”

After gaining a three-point lead early in the first half, the Longhorns (10-13, 2-8 Big 12) fell victim to heavy defensive pressure from the Cowboys (17-5, 7-3 Big 12), resulting in yet another conference letdown. Texas shot a paltry 5.6 percent from three-point range in its worst performance from beyond the arc since 1990.

The Longhorns’ chances at making a postseason tournament of any kind have been in jeopardy for some time now, and with eight games to go in conference play things don’t seem to be getting any better.

“I told the guys that they were going to be graded in three ways,” Barnes said. “First is their effort. Second is how fearless they are on the court during games, and third is if they actually want to be coached. You have to want to be coached in order to improve.”

Texas entered halftime trailing by seven points, holding the Cowboys to 32.3 percent field goal shooting, but freshman point guard Javan Felix’s four first-half turnovers kept the Longhorns from getting anything going offensively.

“Javan played his worst game by far this year,” Barnes said.

Felix eventually fouled out in the second half, but not before coughing the ball up eight times and recording just one assist in 27 minutes. Felix, the Big 12 leader in minutes played, has started each conference game but has not found his shot or open teammates on a regular basis.

Ioannis Papapetrou led Texas in scoring for the first time this season with 15 points. Papapetrou has shown promise as of late and has scored in double figures in six of the last eight games. Only one other Longhorn, Demarcus Holland, reached double digits as the freshman added a career-high 13 points against Oklahoma. Texas’ leading scorer, Sheldon McClellan, failed to score a basket until nine minutes remained in the game, and finished with just four points.

“We don’t play as a team,” Papapetrou said. “Guys worry about themselves, who’s getting the most minutes or their personal stats, but it’s a team game.”

Although the Longhorns scored 19 points off 17 Cowboys turnovers, the Texas post players were manhandled on the offensive glass and pressured into making mistakes far too often. Save for Papapetrou, the Texas bigs scored just 10 points, with eight credited to Jaylen Bond in garbage.

Now that his 23-game suspension has been served, sophomore point guard Myck Kabongo is slated to make his season debut Wednesday night at home against Iowa State. After Felix’s last outing, Kabongo’s presence will be welcomed by Texas and adds a boost to the sluggish offense that has been on display all year.

“Myck will definitely start Wednesday,” Barnes said. “He has been our hardest worker all year and he’s dying to play. There’s no doubt he has to start.”

Published on February 11, 2013 as "Barnes baffled by defeat". 

Papi says sorry after Longhorns' embarrassing loss

Frustration, disappointment and embarrassment.

These were all sentiments echoed by Texas players and coaches following the eighth conference loss of the season for the Longhorns.

Ioannis Papapetrou hit the nail on the head when he talked about his teammate’s effort during their 72-59 loss to Oklahoma State on Saturday afternoon.

“Guys don’t want to buy in to what we want to do out there,” Papapetrou said. “We didn’t show up.”

Throwing an entire team under the bus is a bold move for a freshman, but it’s something that could be beneficial to a growing team. Rick Barnes doesn’t seem to be holding his team accountable, so it has to come from the players. If the Longhorns won’t buy in to what Barnes has to say, maybe a teammate can get them moving in the right direction.

Even Oklahoma State head coach Travis Ford seemed to feel a bit of sympathy for Texas following the game.

“Texas is in a very similar situation as we were last year,” Scott said. “A very young team that we respect a lot, but has struggled quite a bit.”

Papi even went so far as to apologize to Texas fans on more than one occasion during a postgame press conference.

“I feel bad for fans that paid to see that,” Papapetrou said. “I want to apologize for the effort we showed today.”

Papapetrou’s confidence has grown as he has spent more time on the court and he played one of his most complete games to date against the Cowboys. Not only did he lead Texas in scoring with 15 points, but his seven rebounds were also a team-high. His four assists and four steals helped Texas in transition, but like many times this season there was little production from the rest of the team.

“We do play hard, but not for the whole game,” Papapetrou said.

Most notably, the Longhorns’ leading scorer Sheldon McClellan was virtually absent the entire game and finished well short of his 14.8 point per game average. A couple of weeks ago Barnes touched on wanting to see more “bite” from McClellan late in games, but McClellan lacked any sort of urgency.

When Barnes was asked about McClellan’s performance he had very little insight to offer and his answer spoke volumes about where this team stands from a chemistry standpoint.

“You’ll have to ask [Sheldon] about that,” Barnes said. “I don’t know what’s wrong. He has to score and we’re not asking him to guard anybody. He should want to be the best at running the lane and he’s not consistent in that regard.”

The elephant that has been on the bench for 23 games, Myck Kabongo will return to the starting lineup in the Longhorns’ next game against Iowa State on Wednesday. There are rumblings of a Jonathan Holmes return as well, although Barnes declined to say whether Holmes was ready to play.

“We haven’t had our whole team playing together the whole season,” Barnes said. “It feels like a broken record, but we will see how things go once we have everyone back. There will be a different team on the floor on Wednesday.”