With Jarrett Allen now committed to head coach Shaka Smart and the Texas Longhorns, the complete 2016-17 roster appears to be intact. With Smart now tasked with replacing four starters from his foundational unit and six Longhorns in total, he'll now move on to thinking about crafting a new starting five and 10-deep rotation, which will surely require some adjusting through trial and error, and will could play out as follows entering the season.
Andrew Jones, point guard
Between the bulk of last season's ball-handling duties falling on the now departed shoulders of Isaiah Taylor and at times, Javan Felix, there's very little point guard experience remaining on the roster. Kerwin Roach Jr. took the reserve reps in that regard, but Andrew Jones is a supremely confident and athletic All-American two-way guard. He's also under the impression that the point guard position in Austin is his to lose.
With the ball in his hands, Jones has the physicality and the skill set to pursue his own points, virtually at will, which is a trait Taylor left behind that carried Texas to a few additional victories last season. But more importantly, he's becoming an increasingly gifted facilitator and the self-proclaimed gym rat has noted his desire to play point guard and step into a leadership role at Texas.
Kerwin Roach, Jr., shooting guard
Despite Jones being listed as the projected starting floor general, there's plenty of room for Roach to find facilitating freedom. The point guard duties at Texas next season won't likely have a solidified started as the ‘Horns had in Taylor, but more of a combo-guard lineup with Jones and Roach being able to orchestrate the offense in transition and get their own or space the floor for others in half-court settings.
The primary reason for slotting Roach as the secondary ball handler comes with the efficiency issues he displayed as a freshman. Even without handling the bulk of the point guard minutes, Roach's 24.1 usage rate suggests that ball was in his hands quite a bit. The concerning part -- Roach's 14.0 assist percentage was overshadowed by an 18.3 turnover rate.
Ball security is a crucial quality for a point guard to have and Roach's deficiencies in that regard indicate he may be better suited as a combo guard, which would provide more opportunities to do what he does best -- score.
Eric Davis, Jr., small forward
With Texas having two guards in Jones and Roach that can break defenses down and find the rim consistently, defenses will open up and a knockdown perimeter shooter could gash an opponents' open wound. This is where Davis comes into play.
As a freshman, Davis averaged 20.6 minutes per game, but connected on his heaves from deep at a 38 percent clip, the second-highest efficiency of any returning Longhorn.
As to be expected as a true freshman in a Big 12 loaded with NBA talent, Davis saw his share of shooting slumps, but his confidence rarely wavered. With that true shooters mindset, Davis managed 13 games in which he hit multiple three-point shots, all while in a reduced role as often a third or fourth option.
Jarrett Allen, power forward
In only a few situations in the entire country would Jarrett Allen come off the bench, and the current frontcourt landscape in Austin doesn't fit the description. Allen will almost immediately be in contention with Roach and Jones for Texas' top talent, and with the need to replace Prince Ibeh's Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year rim protection, Allen's presence will provide significant strides in that regard.
On the offensive end, Allen could afford to improve his low-post arsenal, but his soft touch around the rim and ability and willingness to run the floor in transition will provide the Austin native with scoring opportunities in multiple situations.
Essentially, Allen is the ideal big man in the typical Smart-coached system.
Shaquille Clear, center
The reason for Shaquille Cleare in the starting lineup is simple -- he's a veteran presence alongside youth with enough offensive polish to rely upon in half court situations if necessary.
Between Jones, Roach, Davis and Allen, shots may be in short supply for the senior, but in what will surely be an increase over his 12 minutes per game from last season, an increase in Cleare's 11.9 points per 40 should follow. And for Texas in 2016-17, which will often have no fewer than three perimeter weapons on the floor at one time, Cleare should be able to find more room to work in space.
The question for Cleare is now whether he can limit his 2.1 turnovers per 40 -- often a result of poor footwork leading to travel calls. Cleare is also a poor rim protector who struggles to move his feet in pick-and-roll situations. In, 2015-16, he only blocked one shot in 397 minutes. Even guard Demarcus Holland managed three on the season.
Jacob Young, point guard
The reason for incoming four-star floor general Jacob Young to come off the bench isn't too difficult to comprehend -- Texas will have a duo of competent guards running the show alongside each other in the starting unit and both are known more as scorers than facilitators.
Jones, on the other hand, can fill the stat sheet up in his own right, but likely has the most polished handle of the group and may even be a better playmaker for others.
With the bulk of the Longhorns who can go create their own shot being in the starting lineup, Young would be a valuable bench piece that could keep the offense flowing for he second unit, as well as step in with some starters without missing a beat.
Kendal Yancy, shooting guard
Each of Kendal Yancy's three years in Austin have been overshadowed by limited minutes and more appealing options on the perimeter. The backcourt talent for 2016-17 will compare to last year -- if not exceed it -- but as the lone senior in a unit chock full of youth, Yancy's two-way contributions should provide a heightened role.
Yancy is quite arguably Texas' most imposing wing defender and after hitting 41 percent of his looks from deep --- the most of any returning Longhorn -- he's the ideal ‘3-and-D' option off the bench.
Tevin Mack, small forward
The sophomore wing has the physical tools to be a tremendous two-way talent, but he's just not there yet, which is why Tevin Mack will be a perimeter option off the bench. Mack's shown he can doesn't lack confidence and can hit shots, but he was a bit too trigger-happy at times and his efficiency and minutes reflected that.
Now in his second year, for Mack to not find himself as the odd man out of a deep rotation, coming off the bench and competing defensively, hitting a few shots and becoming more of a slasher will go a long way to Mack staying on the court.
Mareik Isom, power forward
The University of Arkansas-Little Rock graduate transfer could potentially replace Cleare in the starting lineup alongside Allen, and the Austin native will likely see the bulk of his minutes alongside starters.
The 6'9 Mareik Isom scored only 5.9 points per game last season, but he connected on 40 percent of his perimeter attempts. Coming off the bench, Isom will provide scoring and some match-up problems, which will be a nice addition to a bench that will lack either experience or explosiveness with two true freshmen and Mack and Yancy combining for 8.1 points last season.
James Banks, center
James Banks won't enter Austin with the same hype as the native Allen, but he'll be a reliable rotational big that will have no problem holding his own.
While leading La Lumiere to the High School National Championship, Banks flashed his potential as a dominating rim protector, adding a few impressive low-post moves, a soft mid-range touch and the ability to run the floor impressively for a 6'10 center. He'll have to do much of the same as a true freshman for the Longhorns, just at a reduced, less-demanding rate than his high school efforts.
If the starting lineup plays out as expected, it's one that will almost assuredly be altered. There will be times Isom may be in the starting lineup. Banks may see time next to Allen as a starter, while Mack could also find himself replacing Davis on the wing, depending on how their seasons pan out. And most notably, there's complete uncertainty surrounding the point guard duties, which will likely be split between Jones and Roach with the freshman All-American serving as the primary distributor.
But for a Shaka Smart-coached unit, this kind of versatility with several options s exactly what his handpicked rosters will typically look like.