Shaka Smart is doing all he can to replace Texas Longhorns seniors Cam Ridley, Prince Ibeh, and Connor Lammert. Texas is currently pursuing some of the top big men who are still uncommitted, including McDonald's All-American Jarrett Allen, graudate transfer LG Gill, and JUCO prospect Candido Sa. Here is the recent news for the three major players left on Shaka's list:
Jarrett Allen, a consensus five-star big man, will likely decide between Texas, Houston, and Kansas, according to CBS Sports' Jon Rothstein. Houston has been seen as Texas' biggest competition throughout Allen's recruitment, but Kansas is always a threat to land top talent. However, it is in some ways a surprise that Kansas is in Allen's top three because the Jayhawks have already landed the fourth-ranked high school center in the nation in Udoka Azubuike.
Allen has kept his recruitment close to vest all year, but it looks like his choice will come down to whether he values playing time or an established roster more. Kansas has more pieces than a rebuilding Texas squad, and will likely be a top-five team in the preseason. However, at Texas Allen would be "the guy" in the frontcourt and could perhaps build his NBA resume more quickly.
Even if Texas lands Allen, Shaka will need more big men on the roster. The second biggest target for Texas right now is Duquesne graduate transfer LG Gill. Gill is 6'8, but plays as if he is much taller, as he led Duquesne in rebounds with 6.5 per game. He's an athletic, scoring presence who has steadily improved throughout his college career.
CBS Sports reports that Gill will be visiting both Marquette and Maryland in the next two weeks. Texas' advantage is familiarity -- Gill is from Chesterfield, Virginia, which is just 20 miles from Richmond, where VCU is located. Gill also played against Shaka's VCU squad in the Atlantic 10 Conference.
Lastly, 6-9 Juco transfer Candido Sa will visit Texas Friday, according to SportsNet New York. Sa is originally from Portugal. Though he is 24 years old, he still has two years of eligibility remaining. His penchant for the three-point shot combined with his athleticism and long arms makes him a hybrid of Connor Lambert and Prince Ibeh -- but his game is more raw than both. Sa averaged 4.9 points per game and 5.5 rebounds at San Jacinto Community College.
Luis Camara, a freshman at the University of Texas who played for the Portugal U18 national team, has competed against and with Sa.
"For a lot of his career he was somewhat type-casted as a big man, but Candido has both the potential and the touch to move down to a perimeter position. Probably my favorite playing style that I've played against," Camara told Burnt Orange Nation. After citing Sa's ambition and mental toughness, Camara said, "Of all people that I've trained with, he's the one that deserves this the most."
Sa currently holds an offer from Rutgers, which appears to be the Longhorns' biggest competition. Rutgers' biggest draw for Sa would be playing time, which may not be guaranteed in Austin if Texas acquires both Allen and Gill.
Shaka has continued to hit the recruiting trail in a variety of ways in his quest to fill the frontcourt needs. His major targets of the past month have been a high schooler, an undergraduate transfer, a graduate student, and a junior college/international player. After losing five seniors and Isaiah Taylor to the NBA draft, this is Shaka's opportunity to have a team predominantly made up of players he recruited. Shaka came to Austin to reinvigorate a program stuck in neutral. The question now is, how will the fresh-faced coach deal with having fresh-faced players?