Leading up to the opening of the 2019-20 Big 12 Men’s basketball season Heartland College Sports will analyze each of the Big 12 men’s basketball teams. Today it’s the Texas Longhorns.
2018-19 Record: 21-16 (8-10 Big 12)
NIT: def. South Dakota State, 79-73 (first round); def. Xavier, 78-76 (round of 16); def. Colorado, 68-55 (round of 8); def. TCU, 58-44 (NIT Final Four); def. Lipscomb, 81-66.
Top returning 2018-19 leaders: G Matt Coleman (9.8 ppg, team-leading 127 assists), G Jase Febres (8.9 ppg, team-leading 38.9 percent from 3-point), G Courtney Ramey (8.1 ppg, 3.3 rpg), F Jericho Sims (4.2 ppg, 3.6 rpg).
2018-19 seniors/letterwinners/transfers lost: G Kerwin Roach II (15.1 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 100 assists, 36 steals), F Dylan Osetkowski (11.1 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 49 steals); F Jaxson Hayes (10.0 ppg, 5.0 rpg, team-leading 71 blocks).
Recruits signed: C Will Baker, 7-foot, 235 pounds, Westlake High School (Austin, Texas); F Kai Jones, 6-10, 205, Brewster Academy (Wolfeboro, N.H.); G Donovan Williams, 6-5, 180, Elkins HS (Missouri City, Texas). F Brock Cunningham, 6-foot-6, Westlake (Austin, Texas). This recruiting class is sick. 247Sports.com has it as the No. 1 class in the Big 12 and the No. 13 class in the nation. All three are Top 75 national recruits. Baker is the No. 5 recruit in Texas, Williams the No. 9 recruit in Texas and Jones the No. 3 recruit in New Hampshire. Baker has the game and frame to play immediately.
Transfers eligible for 2019-20 season: None.
Transfers expected to sit out in 2019-20: None.
Looking ahead to 2019-20: With Hayes moving on to the NBA, the core of this team will be its guard play. The Longhorns returns a solid guard trio of Coleman, Febres and Ramey. Sims will get another shot at being the team’s top forward. Liddell, Kamaka Hepa, and Royce Hamm Jr. have a summer to grow and get better. And then there’s this incredible recruiting class. At least two of these players could hit the floor immediately. And, of course, there is still Andrew Jones. At Big 12 Media Day Texas head coach Shaka Smart announced that Jones had been medically cleared to play and is pointed toward contributing this season. As a refresher, when he had to put his career on pause due to leukemia treatment, he was the Longhorns’ leading scorer. If he’s close to what he was pre-illness, he gives this team a new dynamic. Plus, Jones now has two seasons of eligibility as a redshirt sophomore. While it all looks good on paper, it also removes excuses for Smart to take this team to a higher level, something Longhorn fans are clamoring for. The NIT run helped shake off some of the disappointment of reaching the NCAA Tournament. But the NIT is meant to be a springboard for a better season to come. Texas brass will likely measure that by a return to the NCAA Tournament and an NCAA Tournament win. Texas had its second 20-win season under Smart, but they needed to win four NIT games to accomplish it. This season could be the year for something bigger.
Media Day quote: “Well, I think that our team is going to go as our back court goes. Obviously we’ve had younger point guards the last few years. We have more experience at that spot than we’ve had. Hopefully that will really bode well for us this season. Matt Coleman and Courtney Ramey are guys that had very good seasons at times last year, but we just have to be more consistent.” — Texas head coach Shaka Smart
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