By now, you’ve quite likely heard the news that five-star Katy (TX) point guard De’Aaron Fox, who has been the Texas Longhorns top 2016 target for some time now, had made his final cut and Texas wasn’t included in that list of seven. Obviously, this is huge news, and not the good kind if you’re among the Longhorn faithful. But despite the disappointing news that Texas failed to make the cut for their top target after appearing to be the frontrunner, there’s a logical explanation that makes this anything but devastating.
Among the seven schools still in consideration for the top player in Texas and the No. 3 point guard in the nation are Kentucky (who would have thought?), Arizona, Kansas, Louisville, LSU, North Carolina and North Carolina State.
I’m sure I wasn’t the only person rather surprised once the news broke that Texas would miss out on such a talented guard, but when Fox’s overall reasoning behind why the schools still in consideration came out, via ESPN.com, it made sense on why he felt Texas wasn’t the place for him.
In a nutshell, Fox is looking for a place that he can establish relationships with the coaching staff and find immediate and consistent playing time. The coaching staff at Texas emphasizes relationships – if it’s not already their primary priority. But bulk minutes could be a stretch for Fox playing under Smart. Here’s a quick look at the potential guards that should be on Texas’ roster in 2016-17:
· Senior PG Isaiah Taylor **highly unlikely, but possible**
· Senior PG/SG Kendal Yancy
· Sophomore SG Eric Davis, Jr.
· Sophomore CG Kerwin Roach, Jr.
· Sophomore SG/SF Tevin Mack
· Freshman PG Jacob Young: 4-star 2016 commit
This comes in addition to any other potential guards that may be added through the 2016 recruiting class, which is a very likely possibility. Although Fox would have entered as an immediate starter for Smart – unless Taylor decides to exhaust his entire four-year eligibility – there would be plenty of competition for minutes, especially is guys like Davis, Roach and Mack grow into their potential and simply can’t be held of the hardwood. That doesn’t seem to be the route Fox wants to go.
Furthermore, Fox noted he’s looking for a program that would prepare him for the NBA, which Texas has, as one of the most well-represented in the NBA, but Smart himself doesn’t have that same reputation. Fox also mentioned certain programs and their history of winning at high levels, such as Kentucky, Arizona and North Carolina. If Texas’ lack of success over the recent years really played that significant of a role in the reason the Horns’ are no longer on contention, that issue can only be credited to Rick Barnes; not Smart.
The way I see it, this is a significant miss for Texas, simply because Fox is such a coveted talent and hails from only hours outside of Austin. But there are plenty of fish in the sea, and just as is the case with Charlie Strong seeking to bring Texas football back to prominence, there will be the downsides of rebuilding the brand of a program that has fallen off lately under prior coaches.
At this very moment, Texas basketball isn’t very relevant in the college basketball landscape. Give Smart and his staff a year or two to prove how special what they’re building in burnt orange can be, and Texas, will soon join the ranks of the college hoops powerhouses that demand elite talent.