Welcome to the Texas Longhorns men's basketball review. This will be a 3 part series with part 1 consisting of a detailed look into the 2015-2016 season. The second part will focus on the 2016-2017 season, and the third part will address the future of the Big 12 and Texas' place in the landscape of college basketball.
Read Season in Review Part I here
Read Season in Review Part II here
The Big 12 is going to be better and tougher
TCU hired Jamie Dixon in one of the most surprising moves of the college basketball offseason. Now the Big 12 has a coach on every team that has won a conference title at some point in their coaching career. That's fairly amazing and a feather in the cap of the Big 12 Conference.
However, there inevitably must be a winner and a loser in games. Coaches that have reached the pinnacle of success in their careers are going to have to be losers. That's an extremely tough pill for these coaches to swallow.
Texas is going to have more in-state and in-conference competition for Texas recruits
Texas fans have been frustrated over the past decade about Texas not signing the top tier Texas basketball recruits. According to 247Sports, 4 of Texas's Top 10 all-time recruits are from the state of Texas. Also, the Longhorns have landed 2 top-5 Texas recruits in the last 3 recruiting classes (2013-2015) according to 247Sports. Kentucky got 3 and Duke got 2. The Longhorns have not inked the top recruit in the state of Texas since they signed Lamarcus Aldridge in 2004.
Texas will always have competition, and the Longhorns are primed to have 3 of the top 5 Texas recruits in the 2016 recruiting class. With that said, the competition will only get tougher. TCU hiring Jaime Dixon was one reason, but Oklahoma State hiring former Stephen F. Austin coach Brad Underwood provides the Cowboys with the ability to re-energize the Texas success they had under Travis Ford. Kentucky and Duke will still recruit Texas hard, as will other Blue Blood powers.
Will Shaka Smart leave for the NBA?
Perhaps. The last 3 college coaches who took their teams to the Final Four when they were in their 30s have all coached in the NBA (John Calipari, Billy Donovan, and Brad Stevens). Coach Smart took VCU to the Final Four when he was 34 so if you are like me, in your early 30's, you might feel like you haven't accomplished much in life. However, none of those coaches left the school they took to the Final Four to coach another college basketball program before they jumped to the NBA. I do not believe Coach Smart will leave for the NBA anytime soon but I do believe it's a strong possibility at some point in the future and I believe Billy Donovan is the example to follow.
Donovan went on a miraculous run in 1999-2000 with the Florida Gators to become the runners-up in the NCAA Championship game. Donovan did not get past the first weekend in the big dance for 5 straight seasons. Then back-to-back national championship happened. While he did go to the NIT the 2 seasons after the national championships, he went to 4 straight Elite 8s with one season in which the Gators went undefeated in the SEC. After overwhelmingly proving that he is one of the greatest college basketball coaches of all-time, he decided at age 49 to leave for the NBA.
Now, to be fair, Billy Donovan left once before for the Orlando Magic only to change his mind and not take the job. Coach Smart is now 39 and hasn't been back to the Final Four since 2011, which some could say was a fluke. Also, Smart had opportunities to take big name jobs like UCLA but he decided to pass. He wanted a high profile job without the constant pressure cooker that comes with those jobs. And the NBA is a constant pressure cooker. That doesn't mean he is a weak coach or that he couldn't handle it, but he wanted to set his own legacy. He has that opportunity at the University of Texas.
- Apr 12 2016 07:26 PM
- by Chris Flanagan