Big 12 Sports Articles

Texas Longhorns Basketball 2019-20 Season Review

NCAA Basketball: Texas at Texas Tech

Record: 19-12 (9-9 in Big 12)

Postseason: All postseason tournament action was canceled due the coronavirus. Texas was tracking as a bubble team for the NCAA Tournament. 

Seniors losing: G Drayton Whiteside (played in five games)

Any NBA Bound?: No.   

Any One-and-dones or early entries?: None. 

Any transfers: None.

Top players expected to return: G Matt Coleman III (12.7 ppg, 3.4 apg), G Courtney Ramey (10.9 ppg, 3.9 rpg), G Andrew Jones (11.5 ppg, 2.3 rpg), F Jericho Sims (9.7 ppg, 8.2 rpg), G Jase Febres (9.3 ppg, 2.4 rpg), F Gerald Liddell (4.4 ppg, 3.3 rpg), F Kai Jones (3.6 ppg, 3.2 rpg), F Royce Hamm Jr. (2.7 ppg, 2.7 rpg),  

The player(s) you don’t know about: G Donovan Williams received a smattering of playing time his freshman year, averaging 3.3 points per game. But blame that on the logjam of talent at guard. Williams was the No. 66 recruit in the nation, according to Rivals.com, coming out of high school, averaging 18.2 points per game his senior year. At 6-foot-6, he has great height to play inside and outside and while he shot only 37 percent in limited playing time, that should get better with time. The challenge now is to keep him interested, as it’s unlikely he’ll break through the logjam at the guard position for one more season. But if Texas can keep him, he’s a comer.    

 

2020 recruiting class: F Greg Brown, 6-foot-9, Vandergrift (Austin, TX).

Just one recruit, but it’s a doozy, as Brown is the No. 9 overall player in the country, according to 247Sports.com. And, 247Sports.com ranks Brown as Texas’ No. 5 recruit all time, per their own ranking system and going back nearly 20 years. 

Commitments yet to sign: The Longhorns don’t appear to have any additional signings for the 2020 class, per 247Sports.com. 

Summarizing the season: Stop me if you’re heard this before. Texas entered the season with a solid roster and high expectations and fell … just … short. That’s the story of last season. And it’s the story of the previous season, too. Texas played a killer non-conference schedule and claimed some nice wins over Purdue and Cal. They also lost to Providence and Georgetown. Then, in Big 12 play, they futzed around for a month, toggling between wins and losses until February, when Texas lost four straight games, appeared to be out of gas and then went on a five-game winning streak that, ultimately, saved Shaka Smart’s job. Part of that winning streak came without Sims and Febres, who were hurt. The Longhorns would have reached 20 wins if they had beaten Texas Tech in the Big 12 Tournament, but they never got the chance. The league canceled the tournament shortly before their game. Once again, we had to wonder what might have been about these Longhorns. 

Coleman III was named to the All-Big 12 Third Team.  

Looking ahead to 2020-21: This is, ultimately, the make-or-break season for Smart. It has to be. His entire roster is coming back. His entire starting lineup is coming back. Sims and Febres will be back at full health. A starting lineup is actually hard to project here for that reason. I suspect we’ll see a guard-heavy lineup to start the season, with Coleman, Jones and either Ramey or Febres (perhaps both). Inside will likely be Sims and/or Jones, the latter of which showed some real flashes in February and March, will likely share some time. Hamm ended the season as a starter, but Liddell, Kamaka Hepa, Brock Cunningham and Williams can all claim playing time. Will Baker, the 7-foot freshman who really didn’t play much, should have a clearer role, too. All of this and you have to consider Brown as a potential starter. You don’t sit Top 10 recruits these days. All of this means that Smart has perhaps the deepest set of tools at his disposal for his entire coaching tenure at Texas. He can now go small with four guards and a forward, or he can go twin towers with Jones (who is 6-foot-11) and Baker and slide Sims outside, where he can use his 6-foot-9 frame and mobility to create mismatches. Everything is in the toolkit. All Smart has to do is pull the right strings. And if he can, the Longhorns should be a Top 25 team. If he can’t, he’ll likely be looking for a new job. 

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