Texas will face their first true road test of the season when they travel to Richmond, Virginia to take on VCU. Shaka Smart will be making his return to VCU, where he was the head coach from 2009-2015 and lead the Rams to a final 4 appearance in 2011. The Longhorns will return to action after dispatching Florida A&M ,82-58, last Wednesday. In his weekly press conference, Smart emphasized how he is looking forward to taking his team on the road into a tough environment. “It will be an interesting experience to be on the visiting side in that arena, but again I’m most just looking forward to seeing how our guys respond to that atmosphere,” Smart said.
VCU is now led by Mike Rhoades, who is in his first season at the helm and was a former assistant under Smart. Rhoades took over the program after Will Wade left to become the head coach at LSU. Rhoades has led the Rams to a 5-3 record to begin the season, with losses to Virginia (76-67), Marquette (94-83) and Michigan (68-60). Smart commented on how he expects to see a similar style of play that he used while he was the head coach of the Rams. “They’ve really done a good job of implementing the style of play that we used in the past there,” Smart said.
VCU is led by seniors Jonathan Williams and Justin Tillman, both of whom played under Smart during their freshman seasons. Williams will man the point guard position, where he is averaging 12.4 points and 6.6 assists per game. Tillman stands at 6’8 and has the ability to stretch the floor, shooting 52.6% from 3 point range. Tillman is VCU’s leading scorer (15.5) and rebounder (7.4). The Longhorns will also be tasked with slowing down De’Riante Jenkins, who is shooting 47.5% from 3 and averaging 14.3 points per game. In injury news, the Rams may still be without starting Foward Issac Vann, who has missed the last 4 games with a high ankle sprain. Rhoades commented yesterday that Vann was not likely to return against the Longhorns.
A tough road environment will be a good test for freshmen Mo Bamba and Matt Coleman. Smart talked about how the Longhorns will need Coleman to continue to grow and make good decisions with the basketball in his hands. “I think he is doing a good job valuing the ball, knock on wood. That is going to be a huge key in this game with how VCU plays because they are going to try to come after him,” Smart said. Texas will also have to do a better job of shooting from deep and from the free throw line. Against Florida A&M, the Longhorns combined to shoot 21% from 3 (4-19) and 43.5% from the free throw line (10-23). Smart commented on how the Longhorns have to do a better job of carrying over their shooting performances in practice to games. “Our practice numbers in terms of shooting percentage live has been much better than the games. Now it’s just a matter of going and carrying it over.”
The game will tip off at 6 PM CST and will be broadcast on ESPN2.
Texas Basketball Tied for 4th in Big 12 Preseason Coaches Poll
Kansas Jayhawks take the top spot
The Big 12 Conference released its preseason coaches team rankings for the upcoming basketball season on Friday. The Longhorns find themselves tied for 4th, with the TCU Horned Frogs, in the field of ten teams. The Kansas Jayhawks top the poll for the eighth consecutive season, collecting all first-place votes and finishing with 81 total points. Kansas State and West Virginia round out the top 3, with 72 and 61 points respectively.
The Big 12 will hold its preseason media day on Wednesday, October 24 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, site of the 2019 Conference Tournament.
The Longhorns kick off their season against Eastern on Tuesday, November 6th against Eastern Illinois at the Frank Erwin Center.
Complete Big 12 Coaches Preseason Poll
Shaka Smart, Texas hoops secure commitment of 4-star PF/C Kai Jones
The Longhorns add their 2nd commit of the 2019 recruiting class
The Texas men’s basketball team received some good news on Monday evening when Kai Jones, a 4-star center from Wolfeboro, New Hampshire, verbally pledged to the Longhorns. He held offers from more than 25 schools, including Kansas, North Carolina, Ohio State, Georgetown, Texas, Baylor and Florida State. On September 23rd after visiting Austin, the 6-10, 205 lb. senior from Brewster Academy listed Baylor, Florida State and Texas in his final three.
— Kai Jones (@242_jones) September 23, 2018
Jones’ scouting report from ESPN reads: “An extremely athletic post player who is just scratching the surface of his ability. A hard working and active big man who shows touch facing the basket all the way to the 3 point line. Offensively he is more comfortable and effective playing a face up game in space.”
Although he plays center in high school, Texas is recruiting Jones as a power forward. Originally from the Bahamas, he transferred to Brewster Academy from Orlando Christian Prep in Orlando, Florida, where he won a state championship.
Jones is listed as the 53rd best prospect in the country in the 247Sports Composite Rankings, and the 3rd best player in the state of New Hampshire. He joins Elkins High School (Missouri City, TX) shooting guard Donovan Williams in Shaka Smart’s 2019 recruiting class.
— Kai Jones (@242_jones) October 16, 2018
RT JakePerper: Kai Jones with the vicious slam. ocphoops overtime pic.twitter.com/ZPu9F14CSq
— The Coach Radar (@TheCoachRadar) February 12, 2018
Texas picks up commitment from 2019 4-star SG
The Longhorns secured their first commitment of the 2019 class from SG Donovan Williams earlier today
Shaka Smart picked up his first commitment in the 2019 class Wednesday morning, when Fort Bend Elkins SG Donovan Williams verbally pledged to the Longhorns. The 6’5, 180 pound guard took his official visit to Austin this past weekend, and it didn’t take long for him to pull the trigger. Williams chose Texas over Arizona State, Texas A&M, Miami and Georgia.
Williams is currently ranked as the 111th overall player in the 2019 class, according to the 247sports composite rankings.
Here are some highlights from Williams at the NBPA Top 100 Camp:
Jacob Young announces transfer from Texas Basketball program
University of Texas head coach Shaka Smart lost another player on Thursday, just two days after true freshman Mohamed Bamba announced his decision to leave school early and declare himself eligible for the upcoming NBA Draft. Sophmore guard Jacob Young, who averaged 16.2 minutes and 6.2 points per game for the Longhorns this season, announced via twitter that he would seek a transfer.
Thanks to the coaches, teammates, and staff. After my past two years of experiences at UT, I am transferring. I wish Coach Smart and his program all the best. Jacob Young
— Jacob Young (@YEAHLILJ) March 22, 2018
“I appreciate all of the effort that Jacob has given to our University over the past two seasons,” said head coach Shaka Smart in a statement.
Young was a 4-star recruit out of Yates High School in Houston and was ranked as the 23rd best point guard in the country.
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