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Impact Players

The Longhorns basketball team has seen better days, there’s no denying that. From the Myck Kabongo scandal to a bad 16-18 record followed by a first-round exit in the CBI tournament to players transferring, it’s no secret that the 2012-13 season was a rough one for the Horns.

Demarcus Croacker says all three Texas pledges are working hard to have an impact as true freshman next season.

The good news is that help is on the way and Texas’ three 2013 commitments are ready to turn the program around.

Rick Barnes and his staff first landed a commitment from Houston’s Isaiah Taylor, a three-star point guard back in January. Toward the end of March, Texas enjoyed a nice small run of recruiting success by first landing four-star shooting guard Demarcus Croaker, a national top-100 player, followed by in-state combo guard Kendal Yancy-Harris (Richardson Berkner) less than two weeks later.

Despite Texas’ recent struggles – both on and off the court – the future Longhorns are anxious to get down to Austin and make an impact.

“We’re all working hard,” said Croaker. “We’re all working really hard actually. There’s not a single one of us that doesn’t want to be ready for life at Texas and come in and make an impact as a true freshman. That’s all three of our goals.”

Kendal Yancy-Harris echoed those sentiments and already has his eye on the prize of getting back to the NCAA tournament, which Texas failed to make this year for the first time since 1998.

“There’s no doubt we’re ready to get everything turned back around,” he said. “I’m looking forward to it, Demarcus is looking forward to it and so is Isaiah. It’s important to all three of us to come in and make a big impact and get Texas back to where it needs to be. We’re going to do that and help carry the team to March Madness. That’s where we’ll be.

“We’re going back to the tournament next year. That’s where Texas belongs and we’ll get them there. That’s our expectations.”

As for Isaiah Taylor, he admits it will take a lot of hard work and extra practice to get there, but says there’s no doubt in his mind they can get the job done as long as everyone shares the same point of view.

Point guard Isaiah Taylor knows it's going to take hard work to get Texas back to the NCAA tournament.

“Nothing is given,” said Taylor. “Nothing at all that is good comes easy. That just means we have to get out on the court and bust our tails and put more into it than anyone else. That’s not going to be a problem because we all share that common goal. We all have that mindset to make that happen.”

Each player has been told about their role on the team and it sounds like all three will log meaningful minutes from the start.

When it comes to Croaker and Yancy-Harris, Barnes has made it clear he wants them to help carry the team, especially on the offensive side of things.

“They want me to be ready to come in and be that impact player they need,” Croaker explained. “They definitely need scorers and I would be a good for that role.”

“I’m supposed to be a floor general,” Yancy-Harris added. “He wants me to control the offense and help them win games. I’ll be playing as both a point guard and shooting guard, so I’ll be ready for that. The plan is for me to be assertive on offense and making plays. I’ll not only be getting to the rim, but I’ll be getting everyone involved, too.”

Isaiah Taylor will be coming in with a slightly different, but equally important job ahead of him. You most likely won’t see him lighting up the scoreboard, but when it comes to assists by the 6-foot-3 prospect, expect to see a big number.

“I know my role and that is to just be a point guard and distribute the ball,” Taylor said. “I am a passing point guard that can get into the lane and get my teammates the shots they need. They just want me to lead the team and have everyone on the same page.”

One thing is for sure when it comes to the 2013 trio and that’s that they all are focused and all have that burning desire to do whatever it takes to win, something that Texas seems to have lacked over the past year.

The only question is, are they up for the challenge of leading a team as true freshmen?

“Absolutely,” said Croaker. “We’re going to surprise a lot of people next season. Longhorn fans get ready, because we are.”

Taylor and Yancy-Harris were quick to agree with their future teammate.

“There’s no question,” they both answered.

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