Texas men's basketball 2017-18 season preview

Texas Longhorns

2016-17 record: 11-22, 4-14 in the Big 12

Head coach: Shaka Smart

Career coaching record: 194-91

Tenure at Texas: 3rd season

Home court: Frank Erwin Center

Starters: G Kerwin Roach II, G Andrew Jones, G Matt Coleman, F Dylan Osetkowski, F Mohamed Bamba

Bench: F Jericho Sims, F Royce Hamm Jr., G Eric Davis Jr., G Jase Febres

Overview: When the Longhorns hired head coach Shaka Smart prior to the 2015-16 season, there was an expectation that Smart would simply be able to carry over the success he built in his program at Virginia Commonwealth. But with just a 31-35 mark in two years, the 40-year-old coach has yet to turn Texas around into the perennial threat it was during former coach Rick Barnes' heyday.

Fortunately, the Longhorns will get an infusion of youth—their 2017 freshman class features four prospects ranked in the ESPN 100, led by No. 4 recruit Mohamed Bamba, who elected to play for Texas instead of Duke or Kentucky. The 6-foot-11 big man will be the centerpiece of the Longhorn offense, and he is likely to be joined down low by Tulane transfer Dylan Osetkowski. Texas' frontcourt will also have first-year forwards Jericho Sims and Royce Hamm Jr. to provide depth.

The guard position is a little less clear. Both Kerwin Roach II and Andrew Jones took turns handling the ball last season, but neither is a true point guard. This is where Matt Coleman comes in. 

Like Bamba, Coleman—the No. 6 point guard in ESPN's Class of 2017 rankings—opted for the Longhorns rather than the Blue Devils. Although he is listed at just 6-foot-1, Coleman's ball-handling skills should free up Texas' other guards to handle the majority of the backcourt scoring load. Jones and Roach combined for more than 20 points per game last season, but the Longhorns are replacing their two leading scorers, including Jarrett Allen, who departed for the NBA after one collegiate season.

One thing that needs to go right: Bamba lives up to the hype and finds a way to lead his team deep into March. For the third time in the last four seasons, Texas has a top-15 frontcourt piece joining its roster, but even Myles Turner failed to get his team past the second round in 2015.

One thing that could go wrong: Inexperience holds the Longhorns back, as their freshman class fails to deliver outside of Bamba, and a lack of clarity in the frontcourt keeps the Texas offense among the bottom third in the nation in scoring yet again.

Mitchell Gladstone | Sports Managing Editor

Twitter: @mpgladstone13

A junior from just outside Philadelphia, Mitchell is probably reminding you how the Eagles won the Super Bowl this year and that the Phillies are definitely on the rebound. Outside of The Chronicle, he majors in Economics, minors in Statistics and is working toward the PJMS certificate, in addition to playing trombone in the Duke University Marching Band. And if you're getting him a sandwich with beef and cheese outside the state of Pennsylvania, you best not call it a "Philly cheesesteak." 


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