While Texas Longhorns basketball fans wish their team went a little further in this year's NCAA Tournament, the offseason is upon us and it's now time to look at next season, so several outlets have already published way-too-early college basketball top 25s for 2016-17, and most rank the 'Horns.
Here's a look at what each had to say. We'll start with SB Nation, which placed Texas at No. 16:
Shaka Smart was a year ahead of schedule with a 2015-16 team that started its season in nobody's top 25 and ended it by earning a No. 6 seed in the Big Dance. He also has a motivational point to use throughout the offseason thanks to a first-round loss to Northern Iowa by way of a half-court buzzer-beater. Isaiah Taylor figures to be one of the best guards in the country as a senior, and Kerwin Roach Jr. has the potential to be a breakout star in the Big 12.
CBS Sports released a "ridiculously early" top 26, placing the 'Horns at No. 18:
Notable players definitely gone: Cameron Ridley, Javan Felix, Prince Ibeh, Connor Lammert, Demarcus Holland
Others expected to leave: N/A
Notable players we expect to return: Isaiah Taylor, Kerwin Roach, Tevin Mack, Eric Davis, Shaquille Cleare, Kendal Yancy
Others we expect to join the roster: James Banks, Jacob Young, Andrew Jones
Why the Longhorns are ranked here: There's no real reason to expect Isaiah Taylor to enter and remain in the NBA Draft. So Shaka Smart's second season at Texas should be better than his first, and his first was pretty good.
USA Today's "super early" preseason top 25 is a big Smart fan, placing his team at No. 11:
If leading scorer Isaiah Taylor (15.0 ppg, 5.0 apg) bypasses the NBA again, Shaka Smart will have himself another decent squad. The first season of havoc saw the Longhorns finish in the middle of the pack in the Big 12 and an early exit âoff a buzzer-beater in the NCAA tournament. The culture has now set in and expectations will rise for this program. Smart hauled in an elite recruiting class of guys who fit well in his system. Other key returnees include Kerwin Roach Jr. (7.5 ppg) and Eric Davis Jr. (7.4 ppg).
Recruiting grade: A-. Texas has a top 15 class with three high-end players, including McDonald's All American Andrew Jones from Irving, Texas. Convincing 6-10 McDonald's All American Jarrett Allen to stay in his hometown of Austin would push this group over the top.
But ESPN isn't a fan, leaving the Longhorns out entirely.
Lastly, NBC Sports places Texas at No. 13:
Returning: Isaiah Taylor*, Kerwin Roach Jr., Eric Davis Jr., Tevin Mack, Shaquille Cleare
Newcomers: Andrew Jones, Jacob Young, James Banks
Why they're here: Shaka Smart proved his coaching chops last season, and next year he'll have a roster that fits better with the style that he wants to play. Jones is going to be a star in his system, but the key is going to be whether or not Taylor returns. He's a difference maker. The other key? Whether or not they get Jarrett Allen.
A lot of questions remain unanswered before the season starts, and the outlook will change once we know Taylor's decision regarding the NBA.