Dallas Colleges: Damion James

Big 12 media days live: Day 2

July, 22, 2014
Jul 22
The Big 12 media days continue on Tuesday in Dallas, as Oklahoma's Bob Stoops and new Texas coach Charlie Strong each take the stage. Keep this page open throughout the day's proceedings as we bring you the latest from our reporters, who will cover all 10 teams at the event.

AJ, Nets make summer haven for Big 12 foursome

June, 28, 2010
Maybe Avery Johnson, the new head coach of the New Jersey Nets, has a spot for his old home state of Texas. The New Jersey Nets' Summer League team that will play in Orlando next month will look like a Texas Longhorns reunion.

Of course, Damion James, drafted 24th by Atlanta and then traded to New Jersey, is the headliner. He'll be joined by former teammates, guard A.J. Abrams and center Connor Atchley. Abrams played in Greece last year and Atchley played for the Dakota Wizards of the D-League.

Add to the reunion Baylor guard Tweety Carter and it's a Big 12 party -- that is as long as all grudges have been buried.

Surely, James has forgiven Carter for his Bears' four consecutive defeats of the Longhorns, including three beat downs this past season to turn the tables of that once one-sided rivalry.

NBA GM likes Udoh, James, Bradley in T20

June, 21, 2010
ESPN NBA Insider Chad Ford asked one NBA GM to give him his top 20 for Thursday's NBA draft, and he had Baylor's Ekpe Udoh (No. 10, Indiana Pacers) and Texas' Damion James (No. 17, Chicago Bulls) and Avery Bradley (No. 18, Miami Heat) all going in that span.

Ford on the debate between Udoh and Ed Davis (No. 9, Utah Jazz): Udoh seems to have the buzz. He's more polished, is a better offensive player and has the ability to contribute right away. Davis is a better defender, is more explosive athletically and is bigger. He impressed the Jazz and Pacers in recent workouts with his improved shooting ability, but everyone knows he's a project.

Ford on debate about Bradley vs. Eric Bledsoe: Both players are considered raw and unproven, but both have tremendous athletic ability and upside. ... The real question for both players will come down to one spot in the lottery -- the Raptors at 13.

High motor will drive UT's James in NBA

June, 17, 2010
Texas coach Rick Barnes has deep affection for power forward Damion James and he thinks James will excel at the next level.

"I tell people all the time, I would love to have Damion James on my team because he's just getting started," Barnes said during the season. "He's improved so much and I don't care what you say, when there needs to be a big rebound, he's the best I've ever seen...Damion wants to be a pro for a long time. People pick players apart, but sometimes you've got to look at what guys do and say here's what he does. He does what he does."

At 6-foot-7, 225-pounds, the Nacogdoches native went through NBA workouts the summer after his junior year and decided one more season at Texas would improve his game. No one is arguing with the results. Everyone loves his determination, hustle, intensity, strength, athleticism and drive, but what is in question is exactly where he fits in the NBA game, particularly on offense. Defensively, scouts believe he can defend multiple positions, which could be his calling card upon entering the league.

"If you look at our game right now, we've got small ball, tall ball, all sorts. The teams are looking for players, not necessarily 6-10 power forwards, 6-6 two-guards and stuff like that. They look at guys they think can play," NBA director of scouting Ryan Blake said. "And again, when you get guys that are coming in, most of the first-round draft picks, [teams are] not looking for go-to-guys. These guys aren't going to go, 'OK, you're going to be our No. 1 option.' They're looking for guys that can fit in a role."

That could fit James to a T. Projected as the 20th pick to the San Antonio Spurs by ESPN.com's Chad Ford -- as well as on other mock drafts -- James would go to a solid, veteran club where he could gain tremendous experience and have time to learn about the NBA game, much the way DeJuan Blair did this year with the Spurs.

UT recruit laces up for McDonald's game

March, 30, 2010

Texas' next big basketball hope, Tristan Thompson, is one of 24 players who will play in the 33rd Annual McDonald's All-American Game on Wednesday at 7 p.m. on ESPN.

Thompson will compete for the West squad. He is the 12th player in Texas Longhorns history to compete in the prestigious All-Star game. The 6-foot-9 forward is a natural replacement for Damion James, whose career came to end with a first-round NCAA tournament loss to Wake Forest.

Thompson, from from Findlay College Prep (Henderson, Nev.), is originally from Brampton, Ontario. He has helped Findlay Prep post a 29-2 record during the regular season, averaging 16.1 points and 9.5 rebounds a game. He converted over 60 percent from the field. He also has recorded 15 double-doubles in his 31 contests this year.

UT is President's pick, but is change on the way?

March, 17, 2010
NEW ORLEANS -- So President Obama likes the No. 8 Texas Longhorns to advance against the No. 9 Wake Forest Demon Deacons in a game pitting two teams on the skids.

The one-liners for Thursday's 8:35 p.m. matchup featuring the former No. 1 Horns, who went 7-9 in their last 16, and the Decons, who've lost five of six are piling up:

*Now there's two teams in need of a Wake (bada-bing).

*New Orleans is the perfect site, they're great at funerals (bada-boom).

OK, you get the point.

For the past two months, Texas has been singing the same tune. A fresh start is all it needs. If it can just put it all together its collective talent will take over. Well, it just hasn't happened. Now they get one more chance to make good on a season that initially looked like Final Four or bust.

Texas coach Rick Barnes still thinks one game -- one play, even -- can turn momentum -- especially in the NCAA tournament.

"We see it happen all the time. We see teams come into [the tournament] that have been down and out and they catch it and they kind of ride the wave," Barnes said. "And there’s other teams that come in with a lot of pressure on them and maybe not play to win as opposed to just trying to keep from losing and those are the teams that can be bit a little bit. So yeah, momentum is a big part of it and I think confidence; so yeah, I do think that this time of year one game here or there, one play here or there, can really swing it."

Maybe it can. Maybe Texas drew the perfect foe in a Wake Forest team that's won just once since Feb. 13.

But, Texas' issues seem to run too deep. They've dealt with offensive inefficiency, poor perimeter defense and a bizarre quality in which the team splinters when adversity strikes in a game with no recourse to pull it back together. Whether two months of team breakdowns that's often left Barnes grasping for explanations can be fixed overnight would leave some skeptical.

Some are so tired of discussing the slide from No. 1 to the ranks of the unranked they're done discussing it: "No comment on that," forward Damion James said.

Others can't stop analyzing the issues. Just listen to Texas junior Gary Johnson, who believes momentum can swing, but it will take more than some New Orleans voodoo.

"I think it can, but guys have to be willing to buy into it. I think we are," Johnson said. "It’s not the fact that we’re a selfish team, it’s just the basketball IQ of a lot of players aren’t as high. With that being said, we try to cover it up by running certain sets for guys and try to keep the focal point on certain aspects of the game instead of having a free-wheeling type of offense."

In the end, Barnes said, you're left with hope.

"Again, you hope. You hope they grow. What you want this time of year is energy I think more than anything. I think attitude is important as anything right now, that you're excited. I think you have to be rested both mentally and physically.

"But, yeah, you hope."

The winner will likely face No. 1 Kentucky, which plays No. 16 East Tennessee State at 6 p.m.

Out of Big 12, Texas looks to get right

March, 14, 2010

In the Big 12 Conference games, the Texas Longhorns went 10-8. Out of conference they won 14 of 15. Maybe the start of the NCAA tournament will put the Horns back in their comfort zone.

At this point, they have little else to cling to.

"You’d like to win regular-season championships and tournament championships, but the bottom line is we talk about the NCAA championship, which is why we put so much emphasis on our non-league schedule and how important those games are in November," Texas coach Rick Barnes said. "You’re going to be rewarded or not rewarded by what you do in the nonleague."

The jury will be out. Texas (24-9) certainly showed itself well in the nonconference, rolling to a 14-1 record, including wins over North Carolina, Michigan State, USC, Iowa, Pittsburgh and Arkansas. The lone loss came at Connecticut, one game after Kansas State handed Texas its first loss after a 17-0 start. Then everything unraveled.

Having dropped all the way to a No. 8 seed (the second-lowest of the seven Big 12 teams in the tournament -- Missouri is No. 10), Texas will at least stay close to home, opening the tournament Thursday in what should be fan-friendly New Orleans against No. 9 Wake Forest, a team that's nosedived over the past three weeks, losing five of six. So two struggling teams will do battle for the right to face No. 1 Kentucky. The Wildcats will tune up with No. 16 East Tennessee State.

Texas is moving forward with the belief that every team is operating with a clean slate, zero-and-zero.

"Anyone can win it. There are 65 teams going out there with a shot to win the national championship," senior forward Damion James said. "It’s give a little, take a little, so you’ve got to be ready to go out and give it all or nothing."

Which is exactly what Texas' season has been about to this point.

OSU's Anderson named Big 12 POY

March, 7, 2010
Oklahoma State's James Anderson was named the Big 12 Player of the Year on Sunday. Kansas center Cole Aldrich earned Defensive Player of the Year over Baylor's Ekpe Udoh, who was named the league's Newcomer of the Year.

Anderson, a unanimous All-Big 12 first-team choice, led the conference in scoring with 22.9 points per game. He averaged 24.1 points in conference play, the fifth-best scoring mark in league history. He had five 30-point outings -- the most of any player in the Big 12 -- and has scored 25 points or more 17 times. He is the second Oklahoma State player to garner player honors, following Tony Allen in 2003-04.

Aldrich wins defensive recognition after sharing the honor a year ago. The junior center finished second in the conference with 110 blocks, including 54 in league action. He was a key component on a Jayhawks squad that led the Big 12 and ranked third nationally by holding opponents to 37.7 percent shooting from the floor.

Udoh had a dominating season in his debut year at Baylor by setting a Big 12 season record for blocks with 123. The junior rejected 57 in league play, also record. He had 16 games with 10 rebounds or more, including a 20-rebound effort at South Carolina in December. Udoh finished tied for second in the Big 12 with 13 double-doubles and was second overall with 9.8 rebounds per game. He is the first Baylor player to win Big 12 newcomer honors.

James Anderson, Oklahoma State, G, Jr., 6-6, 205

Cole Aldrich, Kansas, C, Jr., 6-11, 245

Ekpe Udoh, Baylor, F, Jr., 6-10, 240

Alec Burks, Colorado, G, Fr., 6-6, 185

Jamar Samuels, Kansas State, F, So., 6-7, 215

Frank Martin, Kansas State [Career: 67-30, 3rd season; At KSU: 67-30, 3rd season]

All-Big 12 First Team
Name, School, Pos.
Cole Aldrich, Kansas, C
Sherron Collins, Kansas, G
Jacob Pullen, Kansas State, G
James Anderson, Oklahoma State**, G
Damion James, Texas**, G/F
Donald Sloan, Texas A&M, G

All-Big 12 Second Team
Name, School, Pos.
LaceDarius Dunn, Baylor, G
Ekpe Udoh, Baylor, F
Craig Brackins, Iowa State, F
Marcus Morris, Kansas, F
Denis Clemente, Kansas State, G

All-Big 12 Third Team
Name, School, Pos.
Tweety Carter, Baylor, G
Cory Higgins, Colorado, G
Kim English, Missouri, G
Tommy Mason-Griffin, Oklahoma, G
Bryan Davis, Texas A&M, F

All-Big 12 Honorable Mention (Listed alphabetically by school)
Alec Burks (Colorado), Marquis Gilstrap (Iowa State), Xavier Henry (Kansas), Zaire Taylor (Missouri), Willie Warren (Oklahoma), Obi Muonelo (Oklahoma State), Avery Bradley (Texas), John Roberson (Texas Tech), Mike Singletary (Texas Tech)

Big 12 All-Defensive Team
Name, School, Pos.
Ekpe Udoh, Baylor, F
Cole Aldrich, Kansas, C
Jacob Pullen, Kansas State, G
J.T. Tiller, Missouri, G
Dogus Balbay, Texas, G
Bryan Davis, Texas A&M,

Big 12 All-Rookie Team
Name, School, Pos.
Ekpe Udoh, Baylor, F
Alec Burks, Colorado,G
Xavier Henry, Kansas, G
Tommy Mason-Griffin, Oklahoma,G
Avery Bradley, Texas, G

** - Unanimous Selection
Note: Ties in the voting created additional spots for the All-Big 12 First Team and All-Defensive Team.

Horns won, but strange things happening

February, 21, 2010

Just when it seemed like Texas coach Rick Barnes was ready to turn the team over to freshman guard J'Covan Brown two games ago, those plans have been shredded.

Brown played well in the 40-point blowout of Nebraska, but then reverted to bad habits, mostly on the defensive end, in Wednesday's loss at Missouri. Saturday against Texas Tech , Brown played five minutes. He didn't get off the bench until late in the first half. Can you say dog house?

Even Damion James saw pine time for his lackluster play. James played just 24 minutes, scoring 12 points with 10 rebounds. Meanwhile, underappreciated junior forward Gary Johnson (22 points) and senior Justin Mason each logged 38 minutes.

No. 17 Texas won the game, 71-67, but it allowed a healthy lead to evaporate in the final five minutes. Tech had a chance to tie or win it late, but couldn't convert. The problems just keep on coming for the Horns, who are watching their ranking and seeding go down the tubes. Now they must carry on without their top perimeter defender and assist leader Dogus Balbay (knee), who left Saturday's game early on and could be done for the season.

Texas (21-6, 7-5) is locked in a three-way tie for fifth place with No. 22 Baylor and Oklahoma State. The Cwoboys, fresh off a home win over the Bears, are next up for Texas Wednesday night at Austin (ESPN2). The Horns are then off to College Station on Saturday for a 1 p.m. tip against Texas A&M on ESPN.

Some quick thoughts on the first half

February, 8, 2010
Some quick thoughts on the first half. No.1 Kansas leads No. 14 Texas 34-24.

* Texas came out hard, as Bob Knight noted on ESPN, and it appeared it would be a tight first half. But Texas started rushing shots, had some turnovers and couldn't buy a basket.

* Kansas went on a 22-0 run. In fact, Texas was 0-for-13 in nearly 11 minutes after taking a 14-8 lead. It left them with little momentum and down 30-14. Kansas got 16 points off nine Texas turnovers in that stretch.

* Give the Longhorns some credit for playing better in the final three minutes of the half. Kansas could have run away, but Texas stepped up its defense and made some big shots to close it to a 10-point game.

* Damion James has helped keep Texas in it. He is 6-for-9 from the field, including three 3-pointers, and has 15 points. No other Longhorn has more than 3. In fact, the rest of the Longhorns are 3-for-19 from the field.

* Kansas really suffocated Texas on defense. They grab the ball, they don't allow more than one shot very often and they make you pay on turnovers.

* That was a big 3-pointer by Avery Bradley with a minute left for the Longhorns.

* Kansas is shooting 40 percent from the field. They are 5-for-9 from 3-point land.

Barnes: Jr. high team can shoot FTs better

February, 7, 2010
Texas coach Rick Barnes is beside himself. Free throws are killing his team and he has no idea how to fix it. What more can a coach do than remind his players to bend their knees and concentrate? Whatever chokes up the Longhorns at the line, it doesn't say much for their mental fortitude.

One of the worst free throw shooting teams in the country, Texas, after making just 10-of-27 in Saturday's 80-71 loss at Oklahoma, is shooting 61.0 percent from the line. The charity stripe? Ha. Try charity for the other team. It's truly remarkable, and Barnes is baffled. Here are his comments after the game:

"I have to truly believe that there are junior high school teams that can do better than that. And you know what? I'm not so sure there's not some other teams at a lower level than that. Is it frustrating? It's frustrating because it's been the same every game this year that we've lost. Missed rim shots and free throws. That's been the common theme in our losses."

Texas senior Damion James is the team's third-best free throw shooter at 65.2 percent. At one time he hovered around 70 percent. Against OU, James made 4-of-13. He finished with 12 points.

"Just free throws, man. That was big," James said. "Me personally, I work on them so much and to come out here and miss nine free throws, it's unacceptable, being a leader of this team."

For Texas, free throws are anything but

January, 25, 2010
If teams find themselves locked in a close game with Texas, might they employ the NBA's Hack-a-Shaq philosophy, maybe call it Hack-a-Horn?

Why not? Free throws are absolutely costing the Longhorns. As a team, they are shooting 62.2 percent and rank dead last in the Big 12 and 311th (according to the latest NCAAsports.com tabulations through Jan. 21) among 334 teams playing Division I basketball. At the time of those most recent NCAA stats, among teams in power conferences, only Iowa State and UCLA owned a worse shooting percentage at the free throw line. After the weekend's games, only UCLA (61.3) ranks below Texas.

In it's two losses last week at Kansas State and Connecticut, Texas shot a combined 18-of-38 from the line.

Texas coach Rick Barnes said Monday during the Big 12 coaches' teleconference that the Longhorns simply aren't carrying practice habits over to games.

"I do think mental toughness has something to do with that. I watch guys in practice work at, I watch them do it and I watch them make shots," Barnes said. "Now, it's easy to say that practice and games; I mean there is a difference, you don't have people screaming in the background and all that. But, with that said, if you truly believe in what you work on in practice, when you step to that line during a game, you're going to do what you practice. And that's what a number of guys on our team, they're not doing. The way they get the ball, they don't go through the same routine, they fall back, whatever it may be."

Three Texas players shoot better than 70 percent from the line and only freshman J'Covan Brown is better than 72 percent. He's nearly inflappable at the line, making 43-of-46 (93.5 percent). Guard Jai Lucas has taken just seven attempts, but has made five (71.4). Damion James, by going 2-of-2 at Connecticut on Saturday, raised his percentage to 70.3, making 83-of-118 on the season.

"They all know their problems and they all work on it in practice," Barnes said. "But, the problem when it gets to the game and it's time to do what you're supposed to do, they don't trust whatever they've done up to that point. That, from my point of view, is what I think has to happen. They've got to trust what they're doing."

Former Horn Durant likes No. 1 squad

January, 16, 2010
DALLAS -- Former Texas Longhorns star Kevin Durant came through Dallas on Friday night with the Oklahoma City Thunder, scoring 30 points in a 99-98 loss to the Mavericks. Before the game, Durant took a few minutes to talk about his favorite college basketball team as it puts its No. 1 ranking on the line at home against Texas A&M Aggies today at 5 p.m.

"Best team in Texas' history so far," Durant said. "They’ve got to get to the Sweet 16, the Elite Eight and the Final Four like some of Texas’ other teams, but I think it’s the most talented team that Texas has seen in a while."

The Longhorns enter today's game undefeated at 16-0 overall and 2-0 in conference. They've won 15 games by double digits. They boast one of the deepest rosters in the nation, led by seniors Damion James, Dexter Pittman and Justin Mason, juniors Dogus Balbay and Gary Johnson and a trio of outstanding freshmen in Avery Bradley, J'Covan Brown and Jordan Hamilton. And now you have to add to the junior transfer Jai Lucas, a 3-point specialist.

Durant played with the seniors his freshman season, his lone campaign in Austin before jumping to the NBA. Durant singled out James' consistently dominant efforts this season. James leads Texas in scoring (17.3) and rebounding (11.2) and he's tied for second in steals (25). He's a candidate for national Player of the Year.

"He’s playing incredible. Every game he’s putting the team on his shoulders. I’m happy for him," Durant said. "He works. He works every summer to get better, and he’s showing his improvement. I knew this was coming for him, especially as a senior. He was going to show the country how he really plays and how the team can get better and he’s going to lead them."

No. 1 Texas ready for road test

January, 13, 2010
For the first time in the program's history, the Texas Longhorns put their No. 1 ranking in both polls on the line tonight with an always tough road trip to Iowa State's Hilton Coliseum.

Texas (15-0, 1-0 in Big 12) took over the nation's top spot in both Top 25 polls on Monday. Big 12-rival Kansas opened the door with a loss at Tennessee on Sunday. Never before had Texas climbed to the top spot in either the ESPN/USA Today or Associated Press poll. Iowa State (11-4) will have the support of a vocal fan base in their conference opener. The Cyclones are 7-1 at home.

"We’ve got a long way to go and we’ve got to stay focused as a team," senior forward Damion James said. "We’ve got to realize that since we have that No. 1 by our name, the target on our back is bigger."

The Longhorns have won 14 of 15 games by double-digits. They clobbered Colorado at home in the Big 12 opener over the weekend, 103-86. After Iowa State, Texas A&M , which lost in a blowout Tuesday at No. 12 Kansas State, comes to Austin. Then Texas heads off for two challenging road stops at Kansas State (Jan. 18) and then Big East power, No. 15 Connecticut (Jan. 23).

"We’re just going to keep working hard," senior center Dexter Pittman said. "If we don’t keep working hard, our coaches will let us know. Being No. 1 right now doesn’t mean anything. Whoever is left when the tournament is over is the No. 1 that people remember."

Pittman then delivered the line of the day. Asked if being ranked No. 1 means Texas is officially a basketball school, the big man responded: "No. This is Colt McCoy’s school. He’s just letting us borrow it."