Last Friday, Chris Beard was introduced as the new coach of the Longhorns men's basketball team. Beard will take over for Shaka Smart, who left the Longhorns for Marquette following Texas's first round NCAA tournament loss to 14-seed Abilene Christian. However, while Beard will bring a clean slate to Texas, he has a lot of work to do - starting with the team's roster.
Currently, out of the 12 Longhorns that appeared in more than three games during the 2020-21 season, four were seniors. As a result, Texas could lose production from players such as: Matt Coleman III, Jericho Sims, Royce Hamm Jr., and Jase Febres. The former two were key players on this past season's team.
However, Chris Beard may be able to persuade a senior or two to return to the program thanks to the extra year of eligibility that the NCAA granted athletes due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
While Royce Hamm Jr. has already been mentioned, he has also signaled his intention to transfer to UNLV for his final season of eligibility.
Alongside Hamm, sophomore guard Donovan Williams has also declared his intention to enter the transfer portal. While both Hamm and Williams were used rather sparingly last season, both athletes had the potential to see increased playing time during the 2021-22 season.
In addition to Hamm and Williams, the Longhorns basketball program had already lost Will Baker and Gerald Liddell to the transfer portal earlier in the season. Ultimately, Baker decided to transfer to Nevada and Liddell announced that he would join the Alabama State basketball program.
Last season, it appeared that 2020 five-star forward Greg Brown, from Vandegrift High School in Austin, would be an ideal one-and-done candidate. Furthermore, while Greg Brown showed signs of promise during his freshman season, he was far too inconsistent to see regular minutes on the court. Despite of this, Brown still averaged 20.6 minutes on the floor with 9.3 points, 6.2 rebounds and 1 block per game. Consequently, Brown should figure to receive a sales pitch from Chris Beard about the possibility of returning to the program to further develop his game.
Currently, both Brown and Jones are regulars on NBA mock draft sites, frequently appearing in the first round. Additionally, Jones has often been listed as a lottery pick.
For starters, it is imperative that Chris Beard figures out his roster situation as soon as possible. Afterwards, he will have to look to add talent via the transfer portal, something he is already accustomed to doing. Since 2019, Beard has been able to recruit six players to Texas Tech through the transfer portal, including last year's star player Mac McClung. However, this offseason will surely challenge Beard's ability to quickly acquire talent as the Longhorns could potentially lose seven players from last season's roster.
Additionally, Texas's 2021 recruiting class has gone from a total of four commitments to just two following Shaka Smart's departure. As a result, Beard will have to do some damage control in order to keep the recruiting class from shrinking any further. Lastly, with National Signing Day approaching on April 15, Beard will have a quick turnaround to make any last-ditch recruiting efforts.