Commentary

McClellan becomes scoring threat

The freshman had 23 points in the Longhorns' win over UT-Arlington

Updated: December 9, 2011, 10:39 AM ET
By Carter Strickland | HornsNation

AUSTIN, Texas -- Rick Barnes had to make a point.

Therefore he had to make Sheldon McClellan run.

Every time the freshman passed on a shot in practice, "Down and back,'' McClellan said. "It got really annoying.

"Instantly."

It fixed the problem just as fast. McClellan, one of six freshmen vying for playing time, has found his confidence, his shot and his stride with Texas.

"He's tremendously talented," the Texas coach said. "He doesn't understand how good he can be."

[+] EnlargeSheldon McClellan
Brendan Maloney/US PresswireSheldon McClellan will be counted on to provide scoring for the youthful Longhorns.
McClellan might have gotten an indication against UT- Arlington. The guard came off the bench early and scored 23 on a night when team leader J'Covan Brown missed his first eight shots and was a non-factor.

"It put a smile on my face," Brown said.

That's because Texas had been considered a team of one -- Brown -- with a few role players thrown in here and there. As much as a player might like to be that one, Brown knows that is not a sustainable model for success.

"If he gets going, they are going to start denying him, and that takes a lot of pressure off me," Brown said.

Likewise with all the other scorers on the Texas team. And the Longhorns have plenty of those.

"We've got guys," Barnes said. "We don't just have to rely on J'Covan to [score]."

Four players -- Brown, McClellan, Jonathan Holmes and Myck Kabongo -- average double figures, with another, Julien Lewis, sitting at 9.3 points per game. But what Texas struggled with early on was watching Brown do his thing while they passed up the opportunities to do theirs.

Not so coincidentally, during the first four games of the season in which Brown led in scoring, Texas was 2-2. In the next four Brown only led in scoring once. Three different players took the lead in the other games. Texas was 4-0.

It was McClellan taking the lead early against UTA, spotting up from 3 and knocking down 4 of 6 shots beyond the arc and another 4 of 5 from inside it.

"J'Covan Brown is the one who has the big numbers," UTA coach Scott Cross said. "But you watch the tape and you know Sheldon McClellan has the whole package."

It was just that until Barnes implored him to shoot, McClellan kept that package under wraps.

"I didn't want to be selfish," McClellan said. "But they told me it doesn't matter how many times I miss it, just shoot it."

The reason for such instruction is that McClellan, when open, is not going to miss very often.

"Every time the ball leaves his hands you think it's going in," Barnes said.

"I just had to get a better feel for the game," added McClellan. "I think I have that now."

Carter Strickland covers University of Texas sports and recruiting for HornsNation

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