Nov. 13, 2012
Dalton Pool, Texas Media Relations
AUSTIN, Texas -- Texas Basketball coach Rick Barnes has challenged sophomore guard Sheldon McClellan to take on a bigger role this season. McClellan was the second-leading scorer for Texas last year, averaging 11.3 points a game, but he often took a backseat to J'Covan Brown when it came to leading the offense.
With Brown's decision in the spring to play professionally, Barnes sees McClellan as a player who can score the ball anytime he wants. Now, after Monday night's victory, all Longhorns fans can see why.
McClellan went 7-of-10 from the floor, including 3-of-4 from three-point range, and 8-of-10 from the free throw line en route to a career-high 25 points against Coppin State as the Longhorns defeated the Eagles, 69-46.
His previous career scoring high was 24 points last February in a home victory against Oklahoma.
"Sheldon is one of the best scorers I've coached," Barnes said. "He can score the ball. Our biggest problem is he doesn't shoot enough. But tonight I thought he did really well. We needed him on the court."
Through two games this season, McClellan is averaging a team-best 22.5 points per contest for the Longhorns. More importantly, he has been aggressive on the offensive end like Barnes wants him to be. Not only is McClellan shooting the ball more, he is attacking the basket.
The stat that speaks most to McClellan's newfound aggressiveness is his free throw attempts through the first two contests. McClellan has already attempted 24 free throws, making 22.
"I'm a different guy this year," McClellan said. "I'm not discouraged by my missed shots or anything like that, because I know Coach Barnes wants me to score and help my team. I kept attacking and my teammates did a good job of finding me today."
Barnes claims that the sky is the limit for McClellan and knows he will continue to improve and become more comfortable offensively throughout the season. But Barnes has also challenged McClellan to play better defense.
"I talked to T.J. (Ford) after last Friday's game (Fresno State) and asked what he thought," Barnes said. "He said that if Sheldon plays as hard as he did defensively during the last three possessions against Fresno State, he has the potential to be great."
UT returns to the court next against Chaminade on Nov. 19 in Maui, Hawaii at the EA SPORTS Maui Invitational.