In short, the Longhorns were missing a do-it-all combo guard, somebody who could score, grab rebounds when needed, defend and dish the rock. And many people figured that Texas would finish the class without landing that player, a fill-in-the-blanks type.
And then Easter happened, and nestled in the Longhorns' basket was everything they were looking for, in former South Florida commitment DeMarcus Holland. Per Holland's AAU coach Lawrence Mann of the Top Achievers Pistons, the 6-foot-3, 170-pound guard chose the Longhorns Sunday.
"(A fill-in-the-blanks player) is a good assessment of him," Mann said. "He won't have an attitude. You can count on him taking his lunch box in every day. He has that hardcore label in terms of work. He knows that he has a lot of work to do, but he's willing to do whatever it takes to get better and help the team win."
Holland chose the Longhorns over USF, and he had other offers from Fresno State, SMU and Texas Tech. But he was familiar with the Longhorns because his AAU and Garland Naaman Forest (29-8) teammate Prince Ibeh was an early signee with the Texas program.
"I'm glad that two of the players from my camp will get a chance to play together," Mann said. "He had the chance to play close to home, play good competition and play with a good friend. That's a dream come true for kids who have been together as long as they have.
"And I know that they will push each other," Mann said. "I know DeMarcus will push Prince. So I'm excited to see our Top Achiever players partnered with the University of Texas. The best is yet to come."
Holland and Ibeh experienced a ton of team success this year, pushing Naaman Forest into the Texas state semifinals, where they fell, ironically, to Marcus Smart's loaded Flower Mound Marcus team. Smart was the original top combo guard on the Texas board, but chose Oklahoma State in the end.
Holland averaged 12 points, five rebounds, five assists and two steals per game. That allowed him to win his District MVP spot and finish first-team All-Region and first-team All-State.
But Mann said Holland's intangibles were even more impressive.
"First of all, DeMarcus is a leader, and he's always been a leader, since he started playing basketball in the third grade," Mann said. "He's a great kid with a strong motor. You never have to worry about telling him to hustle. And that's what the Longhorns like about him: he goes hard every possession."
Mann told a story about his AAU season two years ago when he had eventual Tulsa signee Rashad Smith on his team, a talented 6-7 to 6-8 wing who went on to score better than 15 points per game for Plano. Mann was reviewing their close games, and he realized that it wasn't Smith, the more senior player, taking the final shots. Instead, it was Holland, a player who was a year younger.
"It wasn't ever 'I'm the senior, you're the junior,'" Mann said. "DeMarcus was just like 'we need it, and I'm going to take it.' He's one of those guys. He knows he's going to hit the last shot. He just has that personality that he's going to help the team win."
Mann said that he saw Holland as a true combo guard, somebody who would likely be a four-year player and would make everyone around him better. He said Holland would be a great addition to an already stacked recruiting class.
"I was talking to Coach [Rick] Barnes, and I joked that I'm looking for a Fab Five from him," Mann said. "And while DeMarcus might not be [a starter] right away, you're only as good as your bench.
"His time will come," Mann said. "He wasn't their top, top prospect at first, but after traveling and observing players around the country, they decided that they might have found a star right here in their backyard. And I think they did."