Leading up to the opening of the 2020-21 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.
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.
Top returning 2019–20 leaders: 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).
2019-20 seniors/letterwinners/transfers lost: None.
Recruits signed: F Greg Brown, 6-foot-9, Vandegrift (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.
As for the 2021 class, head coach Shaka Smart hauled in four players, three of which are in 247Sports.com’s Top 125 nationally — guard Tamar Bates, forward David Joplin and guard Emarion Ellis. The class has a No. 23 rankings according to 247Sports.com.
Transfers eligible for 2020-21 season: None.
Transfers expected to sit out in 2020-21: None.
Looking ahead to 2020-21
I think this has to be, ultimately, the make-or-break season for Smart. His entire roster is coming back. His entire starting lineup is coming back. Sims and Febres should be back to 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 once he got extended playing time. Hamm ended the season as a starter, but Liddell, Kamaka Hepa, Brock Cunningham and Williams can all make a claim for playing time. Will Baker, the 7-foot freshman who really didn’t play much, might have a clearer role, too. All of this and you STILL have to consider Brown as a potential starter right off the bat (he isn’t going to Austin to sit, not as a Top 10 national recruit). All of this means that Smart has perhaps the deepest set of tools he’s ever had at Texas. He can 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, there is a darn good chance he’s looking for a new job, as the Longhorns prepare to move into their new arena, The Moody Center, for the 2021-22 season. Another stale season won’t sit well in the hearts and minds of Texas fans.
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