With the 2017-18 college basketball season rapidly approaching, much of the buzz around the Texas Longhorns has been centered around the duo of top-20 freshmen, Mohamed Bamba and Matt Coleman. But, in order for those two youngsters to have early success, they’ll be looking towards some of their older teammates for help both on and off of the court. Let’s take a closer look at what Longhorn fans can expect out of Eric Davis Jr., Kerwin Roach II, Jacob Young, and James Banks.
Davis and Roach seem to be competing for the final starting position, although much will be expected out of each of them this season regardless of who wins the starting role.
Davis will be called upon early and often, whether it’s starting or coming off of the bench. As a junior, Davis is one of the team’s most experienced players and a guy who knows what it takes to compete at the collegiate level. Davis’ game is reliant upon his ability to shoot the ball and find open teammates as a scapegoat when his athletic abilities and strength aren’t enough to help him work through traffic in the paint. Davis had a rough year last season after coming off a solid freshman start two years ago; after averaging 7.4 points per game his freshman year, Davis averaged 7.1 points per game after beginning the year as a starter and finishing the season coming off of the bench. Although his minutes and shots per game both increased during Davis sophomore year, his production did the opposite. Shaka Smart will rely upon Davis to put the ball through the hoop, and that will be needed.
Roach is a Houston product who enters his junior season as arguably the team’s best athlete — a high-flying scorer whose ability to defend on the perimeter and run the floor on both sides of the ball separate him from others. Roach, much like Davis, struggled last year. However, Roach’s struggles can be somewhat blamed on the lack of point guard play from last year’s roster — Roach was often forced to handle the ball at the point, a position he is not naturally comfortable at. While posting a solid 3.7 assists per game last year, Roach also averaged an unsavory 2.6 turnovers per game, which he’ll have to cut down on in order to be successful.
Now that the hole at point guard has been addressed with the addition of Coleman, Roach’s athleticism as a slashing wing should become apparent to Texas fans as they’re surely anxious to see more of his highlight reel dunks. Alongside his freakish athleticism, or maybe in correlation to, Roach will be looked at as one of the ‘Horns primary defenders this year; he’ll likely take on the matchup with the opposing team’s best scoring guard. He looks to build upon a 2016-17 campaign of 9.9 points per game and finally crack the double-digit threshold, while holding his opponents underneath it on the defensive end.
Solid bench production will be expected of rising sophomores in Young and Banks, as well. Both Young and Banks had solid first seasons and showed flashes of promise for their futures. However, each of them also committed several freshman mistakes that they’ll have to cut down on in order to really become consistent contributors as their careers continue at Texas. While Young will be looked upon to relieve some of the guards when fatigue or foul trouble sets in, Banks will step up as an athletic big who can defend near the rim and affect shots in or around the paint. Neither of these guys will need to become superstars this year, but they’ll both have to grow into their roles as we’ve seen a common trend building in college basketball recently: The deeper a team is, the deeper they go in March.