#15 Texas Men's Basketball 2016-2017 Preview

Texas Longhorns
2016-2017 Overall Rank: #15
Conference Rank: #2 Big 12
The Texas Longhorns had some ups and downs during the first year of the Shaka Smart era. However, the Longhorns made their way to the NCAA Tournament and laid a foundation for a very bright future in the Big 12. Former athletic director Steve Patterson did very few things right during his tenure, but Shaka Smart will probably go down as his best hiring decision as Smart is one of the brightest young minds in all of college basketball and should have plenty of success in Austin over the long haul.
2015-16 Record: 20-13, 11-7
2015-16 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Shaka Smart
Coach Record: 20-13 at Texas, 183-69 overall
Who’s Out:
Isaiah Taylor was the leading scorer from last season, averaging 15 points per game and he did a great job of attacking the basket and getting to the foul line. Taylor attempted 196 foul shots last season. Javan Felix and Cameron Ridley will also be missed as they combined for just under 22 points per game. Ridley, when healthy, was a relentless rebounder at 8.5 rebounds per game. The ability to control the glass is one of several key components to Coach Smart’s pressure defensive system working at its highest capabilities. Connor Lammert, Prince Ibeh and Demarcus Holland have also gone.
Who’s In:
Jarrett Allen will step in right away at center and look to make an immediate impact at both ends of the basketball court. Allen was viewed as the top incoming center in the class of 2016 and averaged a double-double during his senior year of high school. In addition, Allen has spent time with Team USA at the Nike Hoop Summitt and is a player with unlimited potential. James Banks and graduate transfer Mareik Isom from Arkansas-Little Rock, will also look to compete for playing time right away and will provide some nice depth inside for the Longhorns. Andrew Jones and Jacob Young will look to shore things up in the backcourt for Texas as they were both highly recruited guards that, with the departure of Isaiah Taylor, will be expected to contribute right away.
Who to Watch:
Kerwin Roach Jr. and Eric Davis Jr. are the most productive offensive players that will be returning from last season’s team. Roach averaged just under 18 minutes per game last season and averaged 7.5 points. Davis played a little bit more than Roach at just around 20 minutes per game and averaged 7.4 points. It is going to be very important for both of these players to pick up their production from behind the three-point arc and try to push their three-point shooting over 40 percent. Davis knocked down the winning shot during the Texas tipoff intrasquad scrimmage to get his shooting from the perimeter off to a very nice start for the 2016-17 season.
Final Projection:
This will be a team that continuously improves as the season goes along as it will take some time for this team to form a great deal of chemistry. One big key for the Longhorns to have a shot at winning 25 plus games this season will be the growth by Roach and Davis in the backcourt as they need to make that critical leap from freshmen to sophomores this season without any hiccups. The two young guys, Jones and Allen, need to come in and play like big time freshmen who look the part of NBA type of players. If that happens, then Texas will be able to push the tempo and score closer to 80 points a game this season. There is a nice balance to the schedule, which should set the Longhorns up for success as they don’t have a ton of impossible non-conference matchups to deal with. A road trip to Iowa State on January 7th will be a key swing game for Texas in their quest to contend in the Big 12. If the Longhorns can sneak out a few road wins in conference play, they should win about 24-26 games and get a nice seed in the NCAA Tournament.
Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA
Projected Starting Five:
Kerwin Roach Jr, Sophomore, Guard, 7.5 points per game
Eric Davis Jr, Sophomore, Guard, 7.4 points per game
Andrew Jones, Freshman, Guard, DNP last season
Shaquille Cleare, Senior, Forward, 3.6 points per game
Jarrett Allen, Freshman, Forward, DNP last season
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 71.4 (214th in nation, 7th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 68.3 (85, 5)
Field-Goal Percentage: 43.2 (209, 7)
Field-Goal Defense: 42.0 (91, 4)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 7.0 (171, 4)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 34.1 (202, 6)
Free-Throw Percentage: 66.6 (292, 10)
Rebound Margin: -1.3 (238, 9)
Assists Per Game: 11.4 (297, 10)
Turnovers Per Game: 10.3 (18, 1)
Madness 2017 NBA Draft Rankings:
#15 Jarrett Allen
Madness 2016 Men’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#16 Jarrett Allen
#29 Andrew Jones
#68 James Banks
#114 Jacob Young