How We Got Here

When Texas basketball tips off its season, the Longhorns will do so with one of the most unique rosters in all of college basketball.

No recruited juniors. No recruited seniors. The Longhorns will be made up entirely of recruited sophomores and freshmen — junior Dean Melchionni was a walk-on — and yet Texas returns a wealth of experience. In Myck Kabongo, Sheldon McClellan, Julien Lewis, Jonathan Holmes and Jaylen Bond, Texas brings back five players who played at least 15 minutes per game last year.

So here's the question: how did we get here? How did the Longhorns get to a spot with no recruited upperclassmen?

It might come as a surprise, but Texas went through three recruiting classes — and seven players — where not one guy stayed all four years. In fact, of those seven players, only one, J'Covan Brown, stayed for three seasons.

That the Longhorns went on such a run is somewhat of an anomaly: in the 2007 class, all four players stayed for at least four years. That group included four-year players Dogus Balbay, Gary Johnson and Alexis Wangmene, along with a fifth-year in Clint Chapman.

But starting in 2008, the Longhorns couldn't get players to stick around. The 2008 group included Brown, who left to go pro early after his junior season, and Verez Ward, who transferred out of the program to Auburn.

The 2009 group also saw a transfer in Shawn Williams, who left Texas to try and find more playing time at SMU. He was a team captain in his first season there, averaging 5.6 points and 4.0 rebounds per game. That class included a one-and-done in Avery Bradley and a two-and-done in Jordan Hamilton. Had those players stuck around, they — along with Brown, who entered Texas a year after his recruiting class — would have been the Longhorns' senior class.

Texas's junior class would have been made up of Cory Joseph and Tristan Thompson, though that duo both jumped after their first years on campus. And with good reason, too: they were both drafted in the first round, with Thompson drafted in the lottery.

Obviously, there are too many moving pieces to say that other players would have come with guys in front of them. But when you watch the über-young Texas Longhorns in 2012-2013, try to imagine them with a senior class of J'Covan Brown, Avery Bradley and Jordan Hamilton, with a sophomore group of Cory Joseph and Tristan Thompson. Without early entries, that group would comprise the backbone of this year's squad.

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