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Texas Longhorns Basketball 2018-19 Season Preview

NCAA Basketball: Texas at VCU

Leading up to the season Heartland College Sports will analyze each of the Big 12 men’s basketball teams. Today it’s the Texas Longhorns.

2017-18 Record: 19-15 (8-10 Big 12)

Postseason

NCAA: lost to Nevada, 87-83, in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

Top returning 2017-18 leaders: G Andrew Jones, 6-foot-4 (13.5 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 2.0 apg, missed half of season due to leukemia treatment), F Dylan Osetkowski, 6-foot-9 (13.4 ppg, 7.2 rpg), G Kerwin Roach II, 6-foot-4 (12.3 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 3.6 apg), G Matt Coleman, 6-foot-2 (10.2 ppg, 4.1 apg), F Jericho Sims, 6-foot-9 (5.0 ppg, 3.9 rpg).

Players lost: F Mo Bamba (left early for the NBA), G Eric Davis Jr. (8.8 ppg), G Jacob Young (6.2 ppg), G Isaiah Hobbs (no stats in 2017-18), G Joe Schwartz (0 points in 5 minutes played in 2017-18), F Ryan McClurg (4 points in 6 minutes played in 2017-18), F James Banks III.

Recruits signed: SF Gerald Liddell, 6-foot-6, Cibolo, Texas (Steele HS); PF Kamaka Hepa, 6-foot-9, Portland, Oregon (Jefferson HS); PF Jaxson Hayes, 6-foot-10, Cincinnati, Ohio (Archbishop Moeller HS); SF Brock Cunningham, 6-foot-7, Austin, Texas (Westlake); PG Courtney Ramey, 6-foot-3, Saint Louis, Mo. (Webster Groves). Texas recruited three Top 100 players.

Transfers eligible for 2018-19 season: Elijah Mitrou-Long, 6-foot-1, Mount St. Mary’s University.

Transfers expected to sit out in 2018-19: None

Looking ahead to 2018-19: This Texas team feels a bit off on the surface. Bamba became the team’s dominant presence once Jones left the team to deal with his health issues in January. Sometimes teams can reel after losing such a player and sometimes they can flourish. Texas has four players returning that scored in double digits last season. Jones would be a huge boost to this team, but he told the media last week that he’s not sure when he’ll return to the team this season. He’s medically cleared to play in terms of his leukemia, but he suffered a fractured toe in October that could delay his return to game action. Additionally, Jones revealed last week that he’s due another round of treatment in December (this sounds like preventative treatment for his leukemia). A healthy and productive Jones would make this Texas team hard to deal with (just dial up some game film of Jones from last season before January and you’ll see). But it’s hard to count on him being a part of this team at this point. Instead, with Roach, Coleman and Osetkowski you have a team that is quick, versatile and can defend. Then you pop in Sims and you nearly have a starting lineup, and Sims really showed some ability to impact the team late last season. Then head coach Shaka Smart can spend November and December figuring out his final starter and his bench rotation. Many of those options, to this point, are unproven. There’s a distinct possibility that some of those super freshman that Smart recruited will play this season. Don’t forget about Jase Febres either. He could play a role in bolstering the depth for the Longhorns. Smart should plan as if Jones won’t be back this season, and if he’s able to come back that will be a huge bonus.

Media Day quote: “(Dylan Osetkowski) is on a very different approach in terms of strength and conditioning as compared to the other guys. For instance, he was up at 6:30 this morning on the bike in the hotel just getting his workout in to make sure his training load is where it needs to be. He’s been very mature about that. The good thing is he’s been through it before.” — Texas head coach Shaka Smart

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