With the addition of hometown five-star prospect Greg Brown, the 2020-21 Texas Longhorns basketball roster is now finalized baring any transfers or late declarations for the 2020 NBA Draft. Head coach Shaka Smart and the Longhorns will enter next season with a very deep, experienced group — something Texas basketball fans aren’t accustomed to seeing around here.
In fact, among all NCAA teams, the Horns are now an outlier in terms of talent and experience.
Texas fixin' to have an intriguing blend of recruited talent and experience next year. pic.twitter.com/MoHpCJvEaE— Bart T rvik (@totally_t_bomb) April 24, 2020
So this program is in much better hands today than it was yesterday after securing the commitment from Brown — Brown is just that talented. Smart has now won yet another high-profile recruiting battle and he somehow landed his most important, highly-coveted target over the NBA G League backing their Brinks truck up. What a win for Smart and this program.
While Smart has dealt with plenty of roster turnover and tough injury luck throughout his five years at Texas, next season he’ll have his most experienced roster since when he went to the Final Four with VCU in 2011.
In 2015-16, Smart’s first season with the Longhorns, the majority of his rotation was upperclassmen coached by Rick Barnes.
As Texas returns all 12 scholarship players from last season, let’s take a look at how the minutes may be distributed off the bench now and which lineups could be the most effective for the Longhorns next season.
Arrivals: Top-ranked PF Greg Brown
Note: Andrew Jones will be a redshirt junior, not senior. He received medical redshirts for both 2017-18 and 2018-19.
Projected Starting Lineup
Point Guard — Matt Coleman (SR.)
Shooting Guard — Courtney Ramey (JR.)
Small Forward — Jase Febres (SR.)
Power Forward — Greg Brown III (FR.)
Center — Jericho Sims (SR.)
Sixth Man — Andrew Jones (RS-JR.)
Led by senior point guard Matt Coleman, the engine of the Texas offense will have a plethora of options to distribute to next season. With shooters Ramey and Febres/Jones on the wing, along with the presence of Brown and Sims around the rim, there will be plenty of floor spacing for this group offensively. Considering Brown’s elite ability to attack the rim in transition and the ability of Sims to finish alley-oop lobs, assists shouldn’t be hard to come by for Coleman and Ramey at point guard.
Possible Lineup Rotation No. 1
Point Guard — Coleman
Shooting Guard — A. Jones
Small Forward — Donovan Williams (SO.)
Power Forward — Brown
Center — Will Baker (SO.)
Williams and Baker stepped up down the stretch as freshmen last season. With another offseason in the weight room under their belts, these two should be ready to contribute big minutes off the bench next season.
Possible Lineup Rotation No. 2
Point Guard — Ramey
Shooting Guard — Jones
Small Forward — Febres
Power Forward — Kai Jones (SO.)
Center — Royce Hamm Jr. (SR.)/Kemaka Hepa (JR.)
Whenever Coleman gets in foul trouble or needs a breather, Ramey is there to take over at point. He’s the team’s second-best ball handler and distributor.
It’s hard to pin-point exactly what role Kai Jones will fill off the bench, but having his length/athleticism next to Brown and Sims is reassuring for the Texas depth up front. Jones has the potential to be an all-conference talent someday when he develops his all-around game.
There’s plenty of minutes to go around off the bench, but depending on how sophomores Baker and Jones develop, Hamm Jr. and Hepa may be in for limited roles at forward next season. Hamm made a name for himself as a spark off the bench last season by playing with lots of energy and working hard on the glass. It’ll be interesting to see how much the Texas coaching staff values Hepa’s pick-and-pop shooting ability and Hamm’s energy moving forward. That’ll likely dictate the role each of them have next season.
Possible Lineup Rotation No. 3 (HAVOC?)
Point Guard — Coleman
Shooting Guard — Williams/Febres
Small Forward — Gerald Liddell (JR.)/Brock Cunningham (SO.)
Power Forward — Brown
Center — K. Jones
Last month, Texas lost their football version of a defensive coordinator when associate head coach Luke Yaklich left for a head coaching job at the University of Illinois-Chicago. The Longhorns ranked in the top 30 in adjusted defense under Yaklich last season. The team’s style of play was largely based in the halfcourt and dictated through the play of their defense. Without the defensive guidance of Yaklich, Smart has a major vacancy to fill on his coaching staff.
This leads to the ultimate question of who he may hire to fill that position. X’s and O’s aside, Texas has no style of play identity right now. With Coleman at point guard and Brown on the wing, this team will want to get up-and-down the floor with tempo. But they’ll have to match that energy on the defensive end, too.
If there was ever a time for Smart to break out his 1-2-1-1 full-court pressure from his days at VCU, this is type of roster to do it with. From Williams to Kai Jones, this Texas team is loaded with length and athleticism on the wing.
Usually teams that press will apply pressure all the time — not in spurts. As seen with Smart, he’s never felt comfortable enough with his personnel to go full Havoc mode at Texas. It’s been sparingly used. Now, he has a squad that goes 13 scholarship players deep with lots of length.
Will next season finally be the calling for the resurgence of Havoc for the first time at Texas?
We shall see. Important offseason ahead for Shaka and Co.