When Shaka Smart left his position as the Longhorn's head coach back in March to take the job at Marquette, it seemed like it would take some rebuilding years to get the program back in shape to defend the school's first Big-12 men's basketball title.
But in a matter of months, new head coaching hire Chris Beard has crafted a team that seems ready to exceed expectations of winning another conference championship.
The win-now mindset has been established and the improvements have come in a variety of ways. The hire by Texas has the nation buzzing, as CBS Sports graded Beard highly on the list of top coaching hires from the offseason.
And Beard's grade? An A+, highest on CBS Sport's list. Other notable grades included an A for Oklahoma's Porter Moser, an A- for Indiana's Mike Woodson, and a B+ for Smart at Marquette.
So, what makes Texas' hire of Beard one of the best in college basketball?
Before fall practice has even begun, Beard has managed to assemble a fresh roster loaded with new talent from top to bottom.
This part of the offseason was fixing to be the most challenging for the program, as only four players (Andrew Jones, Courtney Ramey, Jase Febres, and Brock Cunningham) announced they'd be returning while nine players left as a result of the NBA Draft, transferring elsewhere, or graduation.
Yet, Beard's reconstruction of the roster was operated with ease. He secured seven transfer additions during the summer, including five of the Top 25 available transfers for 2021, according to Jeff Goodman's transfer rankings.
Here's a look at how the starting five might shape out next season with the new additions.
PG - Marcus Carr (top-ranked transfer from Minnesota, averaged 19.4 points and 4.9 assists last season)
SG - Andrew Jones (returning for senior season, led Texas in scoring last season at 14.6 points per game)
SF - Timmy Allen (transfer from Utah, led Utes in four of five major statistical categories last season)
PF - Dylan Disu (junior transfer from Vanderbilt who averaged 15 points and 9.2 rebounds as a sophomore)
C - Tre Mitchell (top-ranked transfer from UMass who averaged 18.8 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 52 percent from the field)
Of course, this starting five isn't official. Beard may feel differently about which players operate best in certain spots. Still, the individual talent level alone will make it hard for defenses to key in on stopping a single guy on any given night. Each of these players has the potential to catch fire in their roles quickly.
The three transfers likely to come off the bench (Christian Bishop, Devin Askew, and Avery Benson) will also provide important versatility for the second unit.
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It's crazy how solid the evidence is of Texas being an elite team in 2021 before playing a single game together. The transfer talent alone has already made Beard's arrival in Austin a successful one.
The box seems to be checked in regards to the talent acquired for immediate success, but how does the future of the program look with the hire of Beard? In the early stages, very promising.
It's clear that Beard's ability as a coach has been a selling point for players, including incoming freshmen guard Jaylon Tyson.
Tyson was originally recruited by Beard to play at Texas Tech, committing to the Red Raiders in November of his senior year in high school. As the former Tech head coach departed from Lubbock, Tyson followed along before playing a single game. The Plano native committed to Texas on April 8, exactly a week after Beard's hire.
Tyson could've saved the hassle of going through the de-comittment process and stayed with the Red Raiders, but learning and playing for Beard was that important to him. This speaks volumes about the impact the new head coach could have on future recruits.
Additionally, Beard lured one of the top point guards in the class of 2022 in July, as Arterio Morris became the first official 2022 commitment for the Horns. The lengthy point guard was a top-tier grab for the program.
There's still a lot of work that will need to be done on the recruiting trail before Beard and his staff can boast an elite group of incoming recruits for future seasons, but the potential to gather more talent looks promising.
Another big, yet underrated reason the hire was so impactful is that it took Beard away from the Longhorn's inter-conference rival in the Texas Tech Red Raiders.
Beard was electric during his time in Lubbock, leading his team to three NCAA tournament appearances and a trip to the national championship game in 2019. His success was one of the biggest stories in the Big 12 during this time, taking the spotlight away from schools like Texas, Baylor, and Oklahoma.
Plus, his record against UT speaks for itself. Beard is 8-5 in his career against the Longhorns, making his departure from Tech even that much more beneficial for Texas' future success.
Though the personnel for both teams will look vastly different when the two teams face-off in the upcoming season, Texas Tech went 2-1 against the Longhorns last season with the only loss being a 67-66 defeat in the Big 12 tournament.
Who knows? Beard could've continued to be a thorn in the side of the Texas basketball program, but instead chose to take on the challenge of coaching in one of the most pressure-filled programs in all of college basketball.
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