On Monday, St. Louis (Mo.) Webster Groves point guard Courtney Ramey officially became the fifth member of the 2018 Texas Longhorns recruiting class when he signed during a ceremony at his high school.
“We couldn’t be more excited to welcome Courtney Ramey to our basketball program,” head coach Shaka Smart said. “He’s a terrific player with high competitive character that makes people around him better. We value the fact that Courtney is about relationships and winning. His playmaking ability and leadership tie together an already talented class.”
The 6’3, 170-pounder announced his commitment to the Horns on Friday, giving head coach Shaka Smart a much-needed addition to next season’s team following the departures of Jacob Young and Eric Davis Jr. Plus, with Kerwin Roach II exploring his NBA options and the return of Andrew Jones still questionable, there are several other moving pieces for Texas as spring turns to summer.
Along with transfer Elijah Long, Ramey provides another ball handler for the Longhorns in addition to starting point guard Matt Coleman. That’s especially important not only because Roach may leave and Jones may not be able to return, but also because Smart’s continuity ball screen offense requires multiple players that can effectively use ball screens and create off the bounce.
So expect Ramey to see time playing with both Coleman and Long next season.
As a creator, Ramey shows excellent court vision and a willingness to make the right pass to teammates — he’s definitely a pure point guard. While Ramey isn’t nearly as flashy with his passes as Coleman was coming out of high school, that’s not really a concern. All Ramey needs to do next season and in subsequent years is make the easy, correct pass.
Off the bounce, Ramey is a strong athlete. Though he’s not quite as quick as Coleman, there aren’t many players who around the country who can say that. So Ramey is a player who seemingly go to the rim at will in high school. For players making the jump to college, the question is how well they can finish through contact against older, stronger, taller players.
Where Ramey has a significant advantage over Coleman at the same point in his career is as a shooter. The Missouri product improved in that area as a senior, hitting a little over 39 percent of his three-point attempts and a little over 81 percent from the three-throw line. It’s probably not fair to expect him to shoot that well from distance as a freshman, but if he can shoot around 35 percent or so from three, it will be a huge boost to the team.
Late in the game or late in the shot clock, Ramey is a player who will have the ball in his hands at times because he can create for others and because he can create for himself from all three levels.
With a pure, compact stroke, Ramey projects as a plus shooter sooner rather than later at the college level. If Texas can get at least three years out of him, he should be really good by the end of his Longhorns career. However, the fact that he’ll have more opportunities at Texas to play off the ball and score in catch-and-shoot situations should help his shooting percentage since the majority of his offense in high school came off the bounce.
In high school, Ramey was also a willing and capable offensive rebounder, but since Smart prefers his guards to get back in transition, that’s an area of Ramey’s game that Texas fans probably won’t see a lot.
At 6’4 and with long arms, Ramey has enough size that he can credibly defend opposing shooting guards without giving up too much on the defensive end. However, like most high school prospects, the first order of business when he arrives defensively will be to ensure that he plays more consistently in his defensive stance.
From the recruiting standpoint, there were some questions about whether Smart could continue landing extremely talented players like Ramey without the benefit of having coached them on the men’s national team. Ramey noted in his commitment video that Smart had recruited him the longest and always made him a top priority.
In fact, there’s a developing trend of Smart identifying talented players like Ramey, Andrew Jones, Jericho Sims, and Jase Febres and entering those recruitments before many other major programs.
Getting Roach back would be huge for the program, but short of that, landing Ramey was massively important for the Longhorns and big step towards mitigating the other losses at the guard position while waiting for Roach’s decision.
If Smart fails at Texas, it seems unlikely that it will be because he failed to land top talent on the recruiting trail. And Ramey is a guy with the talent to help ensure that Smart doesn’t fail in Austin.