With the exception of top target and local product Jarrett Allen, the 2016 Texas Longhorns class is all but complete and the 2017 recruiting cycle is in full swing. It didn't take long for head coach Shaka Smart to prove his recruiting prowess -- in just short of 14 months at Texas, Smart's landed four four-star recruits, one of which is an All-American in Andrew Jones, and two transfers. The guy gets talent to Austin, and the early indications suggest not much will change in 2017.
‘Horns the headliners
Each recruiting cycle comes accompanied with a crop of prospects whose comments and program preferences indicate they'll quite possibly be in Austin next season. To this point, there are a few that are considered Longhorn leans.
Charles O'Bannon Jr. is among 2017's very best, regardless of position, and he likes Texas... a lot.
"I love it out there. It was just a great environment there," O'Bannon told 247Sports. "I love the atmosphere of the game, huge arena. I like the way they play. They get up-and-down the way Shaka (Smart) sets up his offense."
The five-star Bishop Gorman (Nev.) shooting guard raved about the Texas staff, saying, "I love Coach Smart, he's a great guy."
O'Bannon, who holds offers from California, Kansas, UCLA, Arizona and Oregon, among others, made some cuts Monday evening and as expected, the Longhorns are still in contention.
Final 8 ✨ pic.twitter.com/y0EmyYQMC0— Chuck O'Bannon (@mrobannon5) June 1, 2016
The nation's No. 6 shooting guard is currently projected as a heavy Texas lean.
With Kerwin Roach Jr. and Andrew Jones as possible early NBA Draft entrants following the 2016-17 season, Texas will likely face some questions at point guard. Matt Coleman could be the ‘Horns' answer.
Smart's first recruiting cycle saw Texas miss on elite point guard De'Aaron Fox, but Coleman would bring a similar skill set and impact to Austin the following season. The four-star Oak Hill Academy product and No. 6 point guard holds offers from Connecticut, Virginia, Indiana, Arizona and Oregon, among others. Texas has been heavily involved in Coleman's recruitment since Smart arrives in Austin and currently leads in his Crystal Ball. Coleman plans to release his top schools this summer.
Texas' quest for interior talent will almost assuredly resurface with the 2017 class and four-star power forward Isiah Jasey is currently projected to be a fix in the frontcourt for the Longhorns. The 6'9, 220-pound Jasey unofficially visited campus last August and it would be a surprise if he doesn't take at least one more. In addition to Texas, the Killeen product holds offers from Oklahoma, Baylor and Texas A&M, among others.
To land Jasey, Smart will likely be in for a battle with each of Texas' three rivals.
In hopes of luring the Florida-based small forward David Nickelberry to the Forty Acres, Texas is seemingly amid a two-horse race with Florida State. For the nation's No. 87 prospect and No. 17 small forward, two things stand out about Texas: Kevin Durant and the family-based recruiting style. Nickelberry, a fan and follower of Durant during his time at Texas, touched on what he likes about the Longhorns, per 247Sports:
"Their connection with me stands out," Nickelberry said. "In my recruitment the No. 1 thing is a family-based recruitment style. Trying to get close to one another, see if I could build a relationship over the next four years. I think they're both great coaches and great guys."
Nickelberry also holds offers from Florida, Miami, Georgia and Memphis, but said Texas is among the schools recruiting him the hardest and that he plans to take an unofficial visit in September.
Texas in contention
When is comes to some of the top talent each class has to offer, especially just shy of a year before the prospects are expected to commit, simply being among the group standing out is cause for praise. Texas finds itself it such a position with a handful of elite targets.
Of those considering Smart's program, five-star power forward P.J. Washington seems the most likely to boast burnt orange next season. The Findlay Prep product is an ideal fit in Smart's system as a uniquely powerful interior presence at only 6'7 with the ability to stretch the floor and defend the paint and perimeter.
Washington, who unofficially visited Austin last summer, recently said the Longhorns would "definitely" make his final list and that Texas would be getting an official visit because "they deserve one." There's been significant mutual interest throughout Washington's recruitment so it's no surprise Texas made his recent cut.
Decisions pic.twitter.com/Irz8WV2T2r— PJ Washington (@pjwashington_25) May 24, 2016
Washington's Crystal Ball projects a two-horse race between the home-state Longhorns and Kentucky Wildcats for the Dallas native's services.
With a never-ending demand for NBA-bound wing talent, it's no surprise five-star power forward Jarred Vanderbilt is a priority for the Longhorns. The Victory Prep prospect out of Houston said he's high on Texas, but Kentucky and Kansas are the current frontrunners, which is to be expected for the nation's elite.
In addition to Texas, Kansas and Kentucky, Vanderbilt holds offers from Baylor, Texas A&M, Indiana, Iowa State and Houston, among others. Vanderbilt is expected to narrow his list in the coming days, but is considered a heavy Kentucky lean.
Considering Texas will likely be in dire need of tall talent for 2017, Rayshawn Hammonds should become a priority before long. Hammonds, who picked up a Texas offer May 16, is the nation's No. 13 power forward and No. 66 overall player.
The 6'7 power forward from Georgia said he doesn't have any favorites yet and will look to make cuts following the summer, but his recent comments about Texas to 247Sports suggest the Longhorns are in good standing:
"I love Texas, I like it a lot," Hammonds said. "I know a lot of people who have been recruited by them. They told me the campus is nice and the facilities are nice."
Hammonds also holds offers from Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee and Memphis, among others.
D.J. Harvey, the nation's No. 3 shooting guard out of DeMatha Catholic (MD), holds an impressive resume of 20 offers, but recently trimmed his list down to 10.
DeMatha Catholic (MD) 2017 five-star guard D.J. Harvey names his Top 10. Adds Arizona to previous reported list ... pic.twitter.com/c28Fr2jwo4— Chip Miller (@BLUEChip_Miller) May 24, 2016
The Longhorns aren't seen as the team to beat, by any stretch, but Harvey's experiences with assistant coach Jai Lucas' father John Lucas could prove fruitful for Texas down the stretch, per 247Sports.
"Texas, I visited them a couple of times when I was down there working with (John) Lucas. When I went down there, I really enjoyed the campus. It's great. And Coach Shaka (Smart), I love Coach Shaka."
Harvey took an unofficial visit to Texas March 29.
R.J. Nembhard, on the other hand, has noted Texas is among the schools pushing for his services the hardest, as well as Baylor, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Virginia Tech. The four-star Keller talent was offered only weeks after Smart took the reins and took an unofficial visit last September.
For Nembhard, the family feel of the coaching staff is what's standing out, per 247Sports:
"It's really family oriented up there with Shaka," Nembhard said. "He's really changed the morale of the program, it's a big improvement. With Shaka being there, he's a real consistent with my family and the whole coaching staff has. I like the way they extend to my family."
Nembhard, a four-star shooting guard, doesn't currently have a leader, but plans to cut his list soon. In addition to the schools standing out, Nembhard holds offers from TCU, New Mexico, N.C. State and California.
Longshot Longhorn targets
It's a reality in recruiting: You can't land everybody. For Texas, there's a trio of targets, in particular, that the Longhorns will likely be on the outside looking in when lists are shortened and decisions are made.
Trae Young, the nation's No. 3 point guard, has blue-blood basketball written all over him, evident of his perceived top three landing spots of Kentucky, Duke and Kansas. The five-star Norman (Okla.) product says Texas and the home-state Sooners are in the mix, as well, among a few others, but it would be a tall task to snatch Young away from the extensive reach of John Calipari, Mike Krzewski and Bill Self.
Young recently received an in-home visit from the Longhorns and a visit to Austin wouldn't come as a surprise, but Young looks to be headed to a powerhouse.
Texas offered Jordan Goodwin, a four-star Althoff Catholic (Ill.) shooting guard in April, but there's been little noise to indicate the Longhorns are a legitimate option. Goodwin's offer list is becoming increasingly impressive, with Texas A&M and Michigan State recently jumping into the mix, but Goodwin's projected to remain home and play for Illinois.
Galen Alexander, Louisiana's No. 1 overall player, picked up a Texas offer April 12, adding to a list that includes LSU, Arizona, N.C. State, Memphis and Alabama. The Longhorns haven't generated much buzz since extending the offer, but that may be a non-factor as the home-state Tigers are widely expected to land the nation's No. 9 small forward.
Offers to keep an eye on
The last couple of months provided a handful of offers to various talents around the nation. Clearly, there's plenty of time for Smart and his staff to fight into the frontrunner position, but there's been little indication the Longhorns are currently a team to beat for the following prospects.
Royce Hamm is the exception. Despite virtually no publicized connection between the Houston product and Texas, Hamm is currently projected as a heavy Longhorn lean. Considering freshman center James Banks looks like the only lock to be in the frontcourt following the 2016-17 season, Hamm could be an instant fit as a versatile forward that can shoot and produce around the rim. Hamm ranks as the nation's No. 133 player and No. 29 power forward. Hamm also holds offers from Kansas State, Nebraska and Texas Tech, among others.
April 29 brought offers to Kimani Lawrence and Jordan Usher. Lawrence, a four-star small forward out of the New Hampton School (Mass.) holds only five offers - Texas, Providence, Rhode Island, Rutgers and St. Bonaventure - a modest recruitment for the nation's No. 68 talent. Texas stands as the prominent name of the bunch and making Lawrence a priority would likely alter his entire recruitment.
The same could be said for Usher, a three-star guard from Canton (Ga.). Usher's recruitment has garnered a bit more steam, with 10 offers including Arizona State, Nebraska and Ole Miss. Texas hasn't seemed to pursue Usher too heavily, but could take control of his recruitment by making him a priority. Usher isn't the most athletic prospect, which may be why Smart hasn't focused in on the crafty floor general too much, as he may struggle with the physicality in the Big 12.
Sylvain Francisco is the latest to pick up a Longhorns offer May 25. Francisco's an explosive scoring guard, but has yet to stockpile interest from many significant programs - a surprising reality considering his elite skills seem easily transferable to the collegiate level.
If one comparison proves true, it would be wise for Texas to make Francisco a priority from this point forward.
Francisco is also EYBL teammates with Texas target David Nickelberry. Landing one could prove beneficial in hopes of luring the other to Austin.
KeyShawn Feazell, a 6'8 power forward out of Monticello (Miss.) is another Texas target that's generated some steam elsewhere, just not much with the Longhorns. Feazell's a stretch forward that's added offers from Iowa State, Baylor and Alabama among others, but is favored to remain home and play for Mississippi State.
Savion Flagg is a name that's far from familiar around Austin, but that may be changing soon. Texas offered the 6'7 small forward May 5 and bearing his multi-faceted skill set in mind, it's not a surprise the Longhorns entered contention for the home-state product. Flagg also holds offers from Texas A&M, Virginia Tech and Creighton, as well as numerous mid-major offers.
Texas targets without an offer
Although they're currently viewed at Texas leans, there's a trio of in-state talent devoid of a Longhorns offer, but receiving one could significantly impact each recruitment in favor of Smart and his program.
Smart and his staff won't have to look too far from home in search of an elite-caliber floor general, as Austin's McNeil High School's Victor Bailey is among the nation's best. Bailey, the No. 19-ranked point guard and No. 78 player in the country doesn't currently hold a Texas offer, but is projected to stay home for college. Bailey's only offers come from Nebraska and Missouri.
Jordon Myers, a three-star shooting guard out of Fort Worth, holds a small handful of in-state offers from Baylor, SMU and Texas Tech. Numerous prominent programs have shown interest such as Kentucky, North Carolina, Kansas and Texas, but offers haven't followed. Myers is projected as a heavy Longhorn lean.
Chris Giles, a three-star Plano West product, is also viewed as a Longhorn lean. Smart and Texas are yet to offer Giles, who holds offers from Oklahoma, Ohio State, Oklahoma State Houston and SMU.
Others holding a Texas offer
- Mohamed Bamba - Five-star PF
- Troy Brown - Five-star PG
- Jeremiah Tilmon - Five-star PF
- Brian Bowen - Five-star SF
- Billy Preston - Five-star PF
- Ikechukwu Obiagu - Five-star PF
- Collin Sexton - Four-star PG
- Jarrod Simmons - Three-star PF
- Dajour Dickens - Three-star C - Providence commit
- Jericho Sims - Unranked SF