Ever since his introductory press conference back in April, Texas basketball head coach Chris Beard made it clear that he won't cower to the hefty expectations that come with being the leader of this program.
In fact, Beard said when he was hired that it's the reason he came here in the first place.
This message and more was echoed once again on Wednesday afternoon during Beard's first media availability since April 15. Big changes to the roster have taken place since then, but his focus and direction have remained the same.
"It's always started with our transfers and recruiting when it comes to making sure these guys understand that what's on the front of the jersey is more important than what's on the back," Beard said on Wednesday.
Instilling this philosophy becomes an even tougher task when most of the players still barely even know each other. Yet, Beard is ready to tackle this challenge head-on.
"We've had a great summer," he said. "We all understand the urgency to get a lot done in each day. I tell the guys all the time '(West Virginia) is getting something done today in Morgantown so we've got to get twice as much done.'"
While Beard isn't worried about the lack of developed chemistry his team has at the moment due to all the new faces, he understands this comradery takes time to grow.
"We're kind of fighting time," he said. "But what I can tell you about this Texas team and I'm proud and confident to say this, but talent won't differentiate us. I think we'll have enough talent on the roster to make a run. It'll be the other things like chemistry, relationships, cohesiveness, and culture.
Speaking of this talent, Beard spoke on his view of how the team is currently constructed and how it could change before the season begins.
"As we sit here today it's a 'four-seven-two model,'" Beard said. "We have four returners, (Andrew Jones, Courtney Ramey, Jase Febres, and Brock Cunningham)...seven transfers (Tre Mitchell, Timmy Allen, Dylan Disu, Marcus Carr, Devin Askew, Christian Bishop, and Avery Benson)...and two scholarship freshmen (Jaylon Tyson and Gavin Perryman).
Beard's transfer recruitment during the late spring and early summer was a work of art in the world of college basketball, as he managed to reel in five of the top 25 available transfers according to Jeff Goodman's list of Top 101 available transfers for 2021. Carr and Mitchell were ranked one and two on the list respectively, while Allen was the seventh-best transfer on the list.
You can take a look at Goodman's full rankings here.
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Though Beard didn't go into detail about each player, his tone proudly revealed the confidence he has in this team.
"I think we'll be one of, if not the most experienced team in college basketball and that was by design this first year," Beard said. "The four returners and the seven transfers give us a foundation that we think can be more than relative early on."
When looking at the current experience on the roster, Beard could be spot-on.
Ramey will be entering his senior season. For Jones, 2021 marks his sixth year of eligibility. Febres is also returning for a fifth year of eligibility due to the pandemic in 2020. Cunningham enters his junior year after being a spark off the bench the past two seasons.
For the newcomers, Carr was an entry into this year's NBA draft, but decided to return to college basketball for his senior year. He was an All-Big Ten First Team selection last season. Allen led the Utah Utes in almost every category the past two seasons and was an All-Pac 12 First Teamer in 2021. He'll be going into his senior season as well.
Mitchell and Bishop, despite playing at non-Power Five schools, displayed a real talent for their position and will be entering their junior and senior seasons, respectively.
Overall, the Longhorns have plenty of options that can come in and produce from day one later this fall. For Beard, this production is to be expected. Anything that falls short of this in year one is a failure in his eyes, and possibly the eyes of Longhorn Nation as well.
"I'm not talking about building anything, I'm talking about putting a team together in this first year where we can be a part of the fight," Beard said.
"It's obviously been a whirlwind the past couple of months, but I'm really proud of a lot of the things that we've accomplished and I'm really excited about the future."
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