HD Mailbag: Spring ball, Rick Barnes, Etc.

In this week's HD Mailbag we take a look at several spring ball topics, Rick Barnes and more.

Question from Twitter via @antonionsssssss:

didn't realize the number 1 recruit in 2016 women's bb is from Texas does UT have any shot?


Not sure if you are talking about Lauren Cox or Joyner Holmes. Both are top talents. Karen Aston can recruit her tail off – the best recruiter UT’s women’s hoops team has had in a looooong time. She’ll have a chance for sure. BTW, Texas does have two five-star commitments in 2015 in Lashann Higgs and Jordan Hosey.

Question from Twitter via @IronGunslinger2:

What questions do you think will be answered after the spring game? OL, QB, Defense, and offensive scheme.


The offensive scheme should come into a bit more focus, though, Watson/Wickline will surely play things close to the vest as to not tip off Notre Dame of exactly what it plans to do.

I also think you’ll see some clarification at DE (Derick Roberson and Bryce Cottrell emerging as true threats) as well as at WR (someone is going to step up, whether it be Marcus or Daje Johnson, Lo Joe, or (my sleeper pick) Dorian Leonard. We’ll get a better feel for QB but I don’t think that will truly be figured out until a few weeks into fall camp.

Question from Twitter via @JNipster:

what positions does Strong need to go OOS? RB?


I’d look at the tight end position. There are some good ones in the state but two are already committed (J.C. Chalk and Donte Coleman), and then the nation’s top tight end (Kaden Smith isn’t all that interested in UT). So I’d look out-of-state for another Devonaire Clarington-type.

Question from HD subscriber Bigdaddy6363:

Besides watching the QB's in the spring game, what other position battles should I pay close attention to?


Here are five to watch: MLB (Cole?), TE (Whiteley?), RB (Foreman? Catalon?), OL (JUCO’s and true frosh making an impact?), DE (Derick Roberson’s time to shine?).

Question from HD subscriber Mralph9:

If Rick Barnes is let go, is Texas in any serious danger of losing their current commits for the coming basketball season?


I don’t believe so. Both guys love the program and see the talent that is coming back next season. Both are multi-year guys who see promise at UT. They’ll both stick. Both will be valuable pieces next season as Texas desperately needs to improve its outside shooting.

Question from HD subscriber from jbell3:

How many of the incoming freshmen running backs do you think will redshirt?


Is Ryan Newsome an impact player on offense or is it looking like he will contribute mostly in the return game?


I think it’s too early to say simply because neither of the three are on campus and Tommie Robinson loves to rotate backs. Warren will play for sure and, depending on the health of Duke Catalon, I could see the others getting snaps. My best guess at the moment would be that Tristan Houston redshirts. But, again, way too early to really say.

Newsome’s impact on the offense hinges on what others in front of him do or don’t do. Can guys like Armanti Foreman, Lorenzo Joe, Jacorey Warrick, Dorian Leonard and Roderick Bernard (when healthy) take that next step and keep Ry New at arm’s length? I think some will. Look for Newsome’s biggest contributions to come in the return game.

Question from HD subscriber etxfootballjunky:

Does it seem like Marcus Johnson is ready to step into that leadership role as a Sr. WR?


It does. Johnson’s biggest issue last season was himself. If he wasn’t performing like he thought he should, his shoulders slumped and he lost focus a bit. He understands how valuable he is to this team. I think he’ll put his best foot forward. The real positive among the WRs is what Daje’s been doing.

Question from HD subscriber Fraank:

When will we know one way or the other about Barnes? Starting to think he may survive


These things take time. I think it will come after April 1 just so Texas can save $250K. I think he sees the writing on the wall.

Question from HD subscriber SU2014:

Will, any idea on why Travis Duke has been getting limited innings out of the pen? He was the go to guy last year... until he came in today's game I thought he might have been hurt. Not sure if this is anything you would know about, just curious..


If you look at the overall body of work, Duke is right there in terms of innings pitched by a reliever (third on team with 11). His numbers have been OK (his last two outings have been fine) but Kirby Bellow and Ty Culbreth are getting the job done in front of him now. Long season though, plenty of ball to be played. Skip knows what he’s doing. Duke will be a valuable asset if UT wants to get back to Omaha.

Question from HD subscriber SU2014:

1. Been hearing some talk lately about Brandon Jones... I know he was once thought to be a soe lean, and never really thought we would have much of a chance. But lately been hearing chatter about him and Texas. Anything you can share on him, or if he plans to visit anytime soon?

2. IF Patterson decides to go in a new direction with the head basketball coach who would be your top 3 coaches to go after (in order)?


Texas is going to be in the mix with Jones for a while I think. Do I think UT is the leader at this point? No. But the Longhorns are making up ground. I think he is one that wants to see what type of product is on the field this fall. Look for him to visit this spring/summer and again in the fall.

Top 3 coaching candidates in order: Greg Marshall, Archie Miller, Shaka Smart.

Question from HD subscriber jmf1973:

Hey William, appreciate you taking questions. I feel let down by the results of the state of Texas men's basketball teams in the NCAA tournament. Is it fair to believe the state's best HS hoops talent leaves to play for powerhouse programs in other states? In other words, can the state of Texas claim to have top-notch basketball talent, even if the state's college programs did not get out of the 1st round of the NCAA? In your opinion, what is the maximum amount of annual salary UT is willing to pay a new men's hoops coach if a change is made?

Moving on to the UT football team, here's my question. Will the success of the season depend more on confidence & fight? Or is it simply about having the talent in the program? Obviously QB, departed & graduated players from 2014 will have an impact. But I can't tell if the returners have enough about them & in them to will themselves to 8 wins & a bowl victory. What do you think? Thanks for your answers!


The state’s best players are already leaving the state to play for other powerhouse programs. Just look at Kentucky and Duke’s rosters. They are peppered with Lone Stat talent.

And, absolutely, the state can still claim to have top-notch talent even though the state’s schools struggled mightily in March Madness. There are dozens of Texans still playing. This thing goes in cycles. The Lone Star State is a basketball powerhouse and everyone knows it.

Max salary for a basketball coach depends on what type of coach it gets. If it gets a seasoned coach I think they’ll have to go upwards of $1.75, which Barnes would be owed if he is fired before April 1. You are probably looking at close to $3 million if you want someone like Greg Marshall. I think UT could get away with saving a few bucks if it gets a young, fiery coach. But this isn’t the time to spare expense. Pay what it takes to get a winner to Austin.

The answer to your last question is definitely a combination of both. But if I had to choose one or the other I’m going with confidence and fight. There is no question the talent on this roster is starting to more closely resemble that of what a UT football roster should look like. There are some bonafide ballers on the team. But that doesn’t always produce a winner. Mack had some great rosters in the past that didn’t amount to much because of a lack of passion and a sense of entitlement. Strong has these guys taking pride in the fact that they are Longhorns football players. That should go a long way.

Question from HD subscriber DiggsTX:

Fun question: With about a month to go in the NBA season, which 16 teams do you think make it in?


I’ve been pulling for New Orleans to find their way into that 8th spot in the West but the Pels just aren’t going to get it done. Too many injuries. From the East: Atlanta, Cleveland, Toronto, Chicago, Washington, Milwaukee, Miami, Boston (if Isaiah Thomas comes back soon from injury). I think Indiana is going to make it tough (tied with Boston a half-game back of Charlotte for 8th. Could get huge emotional lift with Paul George’s return).

From the West – pretty straight-forward: Golden State, Memphis, Houston, Portland, Clippers, San Antonio, Dallas, OKC.


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