Countdown to College Basketball: #5 Texas Longhorns

After being on the wrong end of a historic upset at the hands of Abilene Christian, Shaka Smart decided to parachute to Marquette, leaving a coaching vacancy, and with that came the Longhorns deciding to hire in-conference with Chris Beard taking the job. With Beard coming in, the Longhorns instantly added one of the great coaches in the sport, as Beard already has had accomplishments matching many head coaches and he’s only been a head coach for five seasons. Now that Beard is heading back to his alma mater, a school that has more resources than it knows what to do with, failure seems to be out of the equation. The main question would be how long before we could talk about Texas as one of the top teams in the sport? The answer is one offseason, thanks to a major haul in the transfer portal filled with a plethora of former double-digit scorers at the high-major level. 

The biggest addition from the transfer portal was adding in Marcus Carr, who will take over as the starting point guard this season. Carr is a great scorer and facilitator, who had a high usage role for Minnesota in the past two seasons. While Carr struggled down the stretch a season ago, I chalk that more up to him being on a team with no help after Robbins went down. Now with a better roster around him, he should go back to being a pass-first, shoot-second guard who will remain one of the best closers in College Basketball. 

Courtney Ramey and Andrew Jones were also among the guards who surprisingly both opted to return to Texas for this season. Jones is now a 6th-year senior, who has dealt with it all, he was an NBA prospect his freshman year, dealt with and defeated leukemia over the next two seasons but now is looking for a proper sendoff. Jones is able to run the point but is better off the ball where he’s able to find his open spots and knock down shots at an efficient rate. Courtney Ramey will also return hoping to have a big role, while not an elite shooter, Ramey does space the floor, while he’s a good defender and playmaker, making him a really good role player for this team. 

The Horns also add in a good group of versatile forwards to provide both scoring and defense to help fill this team. Timmy Allen will be able to play both the 3 and the 4. Allen isn’t a great shooter but does have the ability to create shots off the dribble, while he’s a good rebounder and defender. Freshman wing Jaylon Tyson also looks to provide some size, athleticism, and scoring pop, while he has the ability to create off the bounce as well. Dylan Disu provides Texas with an ideal four-man as he’s a good shooter and a high-level rebounder, which makes him a great piece for any roster.

Christian Bishop and Tre Mitchell will rotate minutes at the 5 for Texas. Bishop originally committed hoping to play the 4 but with the depth at that spot, he’ll have to settle for being the center again. Bishop is a high-level, jump out of the gym type of athlete, who is a good interior scorer and rebounder, although his lack of shooting could cause some issues. Tre Mitchell will be the likely starting center for this team, which he’s used to playing. The 6’9 transfer is an effective low post scorer, who can space the floor, while he has the ability to rebound and block shots. 

The backend of the rotation will be filled with Devin Askew and Jase Febres. Askew was simply not good for Kentucky a season ago but to be fair, he was a reclassified guard who was supposed to be in high school a season ago. If he can play anything like his former five-star billing, he’ll be a productive piece for Texas long-term. Febres is a good shooter at 6’5 while being a capable defender as well, although don’t expect much else from him. Brock Cunningham will play a role on this team, while he doesn’t provide a lot from a skill perspective, he’s an elite glue guy who hustles for loose balls and is willing to do whatever it takes to win. 

With as much roster turnover as Texas will have, it will likely take a few months before we actually see this team gel. Even Beard’s best team in 2019, waited until the NCAA Tournament before having some of their best performances. That said, the talent on this team rivals any team in the sport. With as many players who have averaged double figures at the high-major level, the Longhorns will be afforded the ability to find the right players to fit the puzzle. While some players will not be able to play the role that they may have wanted, and some very good players will be stuck on the bench, that’s almost by design. Not everyone will be happy but as long as it remains a competitive environment the team will have success, and Chris Beard will bring one of the most competitive environments out there. 

Expect Texas to maybe take a couple of losses early in the season as players are still learning how to play with one another. That said, by February they should start to look like a legitimate title contender and if they continue that momentum in March, a National Championship is on the table. 

Projected Rotation 

PG: Marcus Carr

SG: Andrew Jones

SF: Courtney Ramey

PF: Timmy Allen

C: Tre Mitchell 

B1: Dylan Disu

B2: Christian Bishop

B3: Jaylon Tyson

B4: Devin Askew

B5: Brock Cunningham 

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