4. Texas basketball is validated
Texas opens the AP rankings at 21st. They went 20-13 last year in Shaka Smart’s first season at the helm. Despite the presence of talented guard Isaiah Taylor, it took a while for the team to learn to play Smart’s brand of Havoc basketball be brought over from VCU.
But wins against North Carolina, Iowa State, Oklahoma, and West Virginia twice affirmed that Smart’s style could work in the Big 12. The Longhorns finished 11-7 in conference play—just ahead of ranked Baylor and Iowa State. This momentum didn’t come to fruition with multiple NCAA tournament wins, but it was a positive season nonetheless.
Shaka Smart appears to be turning around Texas basketball. He brought the nation’s No. 5 recruiting class into Austin, headlined by 247sports five-star center Jarrett Allen and point guard Andrew Jones. Andrew Jones will fill in at point guard immediately and softens the blow of Isaiah Taylor’s departure. Smart also brought in two 247sports four-star recruits and talented forward David Osetkowski from Tulane, though he won’t factor in until next year.
Guards Kerwin Roach Jr. and Eric Davis Jr. excelled flying around and creating issues for offenses last year and should be able to build on their success. 6’7″, 220-pound wing Tevin Mack should be ready for a bigger role this season as well. Andrew Jones has the talent to give Texas better all-around point guard play than Taylor gave them last year.
Jarrett Allen gives Shaka Smart a big weapon he has never really had and it will be interesting to see how he is utilized. Smart is known for tough practices and everyone on their roster should be ready to compete. Texas was validated by a preseason ranking and could be a team that’s scary come March.