Texas Longhorns College Basketball Preview
Head Coach: Chris Beard (1st season)
Notable Wins: vs. North Carolina, at. Kansas, at. Oklahoma
The Texas Longhorns basketball squad opened the 2020 season, winning eleven of their first thirteen games, with the two losses coming to Villanova and in-state rival Texas Tech. A stoppage in play led to three straight losses, but the Longhorns regained momentum and closed the season out strong to win their first Big 12 tournament title ever.
Texas’ performance would land them a number two-seed in the Big Dance, but their season would be ended prematurely by a one-point upset loss to in-state Abilene Christian in the round of the 64. The loss would lead to the abrupt departure of head coach Shaka Smart, who appeared to finally break through in Austin after six years at the helm. Smart’s departure to Marquette led to former Texas Tech head coach Chris Beard returning to his alma mater. Beard had a good five-year run with the Red Raiders, leading them to a record 31 wins in 2019 and their first National Championship appearance.
Key Returnees: G Andrew Jones, G Courtney Ramey,
Key Losses: G Matt Coleman III, F Jericho Sims, F Greg Brown
Key Newcomers: F Tim Allen, C Tre Mitchell, F Jaylon Tyson
The Longhorns will enter a transition period in Beard’s first year at the helm. Smart’s exit was succeeded by the graduation of lead guard Matt Coleman III and forward Jericho Sims. Coleman was named Most Outstanding Player of the Big 12 tournament after scoring 30 points in the clinching win over Oklahoma State. Sims led the team in rebounding and recorded four double-doubles over his last five games as a longhorn. The Longhorns even lost some more size when sophomores Greg Brown and Kai Jones declared for the NBA Draft.
Texas lost a bit after a successful campaign, but Chris Beard got straight to work, and the Longhorns proved to be one of the big winners from the NCAA transfer portal. Beard was able to sign gems in former Utah forward Timmy Allen and former UMass center Tre Mitchell. Allen made first-team 2021 All-Pac-12 after leading the Utes in scoring (17.2), rebounding (6.4), and assists (3.9). Mitchell led UMass in scoring (18.8) and rebounding (7.2), and he has a chance to come in and continue the tradition of Texas centers.
Beard did not stop there. The first-year head coach added three more pieces through the transfer pool and signed one of the best prospects in Texas. Former Creighton forward Christian Bishop and former Vanderbilt Dylan Disu will come in and bulk the frontcourt. Bishop averaged 11.1 ppg and 6.4 rpg, while Disu averaged 15.2 ppg and 9.2 rpg. Both forwards led their respective programs in rebounding and will immediately come in and address the need for size.
Former Kentucky guard Devin Askew can play both guard spots, and he averaged 6.5 ppg, 2.9 apg, and 2.6 rpg during his lone season in Lexington. Jaylon Tyson followed Chris Beard over from Texas Tech, and he has the talent to lead this team in scoring. The 6’6 forward from Plano, TX can score from all three levels and has a special blend of size and skill.
With all the incoming talent, Texas retains what every good college basketball team needs: solid guard play. Senior guard Andrew Jones will bring experience and explosiveness. He led Texas in scoring last season (14.6) and grabbed 4.5 rpg. Courtney Ramey will likely run the offense this year, and he’s increased his points per game in each of his first three seasons. The senior guard scored 12.2 ppg while dishing out 3.9 apg and leading the Longhorns in three-point percentage (41.4%).
Projected Lineup: G Courtney Ramey, G Andrew Jones, F Tim Allen, F Christian Bishop, C Tre Mitchell
Transition periods haven’t always gone well with Texas sports, but this one looks like it could be fun. Chris Beard played a rugged style in Lubbock, and he has a chance to do the same thing in Austin, but with a bit of flash this time around. After losing nearly every bid of production and size from their frontcourt, Texas has retooled and upgraded. There are a lot of moving pieces, but the Longhorns are going to be a much more physical team this season, and they should remain competitive. It will be really interesting to see how all of their offseason moves unfold.
Projected Finish: 3rd in Big 12, NCAA Tournament Bid