Key Departures: Greg Brown (NBA); Matt Coleman (Grad); Jericho Sims (NBA); Kai Jones (NBA)
New In Town: Jaylon Tyson (#35); Marcus Carr (<–Minnesota); Dylan Disu (<–Vandy); Timmy Allen (<–Utah) Devin Askew (<–Kentucky); Christian Bishop (<–Creighton); Tre Mitchell (<–UMass)
State of the Program:
The Shaka Smart era came to a disastrous end a year ago, after a promising regular season led to a shocking first round exit at the hands of Abilene Christian. Smart failed to get Texas past the 1st round in 6 years that included 3 trips to the tournament in a tenure that started with huge promise and ended as an abject failure. Coming in to return this esteemed program back to being a national powerhouse is Chris Beard. Beard is the most promising young coach in the country, and elevated Texas Tech to the place Texas wishes to be. He’s been to an Elite 8 and was runner up in Lubbock in 2019, and he consistently put together competitive teams with an intense defensive philosophy. He will once again try and take a hodge-podge roster of transfers and bring them together to form a cohesive team. He has a couple of nice returning pieces in starting G’s Andrew Jones (SR) and Courtney Ramey (SR), along with reserve Jase Febres (SR). The rest of the rotation will rely on an elite group of transfers and a freshman. Beard is one of a handful of coaches that I now trust with no hesitation to find a way to make any team competitive. But give him this much talent, and there’s really no limit as to how far he can take the Longhorns.
It’s hard to point to one guy as the most impactful of the incoming transfers, but I’ll kick it off with Minnesota transfer G Marcus Carr (SR). He was an All-Big Ten selection a year ago after averaging 19/4/5 and being the undisputed go-to scorer for the Gophers. He will likely start alongside Jones in the backcourt, and Beard will hope with a more talented roster around him that Carr can improve his efficiency and decision making. If he channels more of his game as a distributor he can one of the better playmakers in the country. Also incoming is 2x All-PAC 12 selection 6’6” PF Timmy Allen (SR). Allen excels in the post, as he can bully defenders to score and draw fouls, as well as use his vision as a passer to facilitate if doubled. He averaged 17/6/4 for the Utes a year ago and should come in and start as an undersized 4. 6’9” wing Dylan Disu (JR) exploded on the scene for Vandy as a sophomore a season ago, averaging 15/9 while shooting 37% from 3. He’s a huge pickup for Beard, as his length will be impactful on both ends, but more importantly he can attack the basket, convert open 3’s and rebound at a high level. He should slide right in at the 3 and be a main contributor for Texas. Also looking to compete for a starting spot is Creighton F Christian Bishop (SR). Bishop played a small ball 5 for Creighton and is a gifted athlete that excelled on lobs and in transition and was a solid defender and rebounder despite being undersized. He’ll likely come off the bench in a rotation in the frontcourt with Allen and Tre Mitchell (JR), the transfer from UMass. Mitchell was a star at UMass, a 2x All-A10 selection that averaged 18/7 and can stretch out to shoot from 3. That ability to shoot, 37% a year ago, along with being a little bigger than Bishop at 6’9” puts him as the starting 5 in my eyes. The last transfer is 6’3” G Devin Askew (SO) out of Kentucky. Askew struggled to find his footing a season ago despite starting 20 games. Still though, he has a ton of potential, reflected by his 32nd ranking in the 2020 class, and while he might not see much time this season he should be a key piece for Beard down the road. The lone Freshman is 6’6” wing Jaylon Tyson (#35). Tyson isn’t an explosive athlete but can use his length to get his shot off, and has ability on blow byes to score at the rim. He might struggle to find consistent minutes, as he’ll likely be the 10th man on the depth chart, but he could explode as a SO for Beard.
Clearly Beard has a ton of talent on his first Texas roster, but he will be challenged to bring all of these pieces together while also trying to create and instill his culture and brand of basketball in year 1. Beard is one of the great minds in the game, and has proven he can plug and play transfers in the past, so I have high expectations for what he can do with this team. They have a ton of depth, as they have 8 guys who started a majority of the games a year ago plus Febres who has started 60 games over his first 3 seasons before moving to a bench role last season. Between Carr, Jones, Ramey, Disu, and Allen they have proven scorers and shot makers and will have the best shot at contending with the loaded Jayhawks in the Conference. The only worry might be the interior, as Mitchell and Bishop are a bit undersized and unproven against high major big men. David McCormack for example, has a couple inches and 30+ pounds on each of them, so matchups like those could be difficult, especially if one or both get in foul trouble. All in all I think with Beard at the helm this Texas program should see immediate success and I’d expect at least a couple of wins in March, and they are a legit threat to get to the Final Four if everything comes together seamlessly.