HD Mailbag: Avery Johnson, Spring Ball, Evans

In this week's HD Mailbag I answer questions about Avery Johnson and UT, spring ball & recruiting.

Question from HD subscriber JJNip:

At This point, who are you confident that will commit to Texas?

Answer:

It’s really hard to say that I’m confident any specific recruits are going to commit to Texas at this point.

There are several that I think UT is in good shape with. They include: Kendell Jones, Mark Jackson, J.P. Urquidez, Dontavious Jackson, Eric Cuffee and Christian Wallace.

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Question from HD subscriber cooterbrown1946:

How old is your Boston terrier?

Answer:

It’s actually a friend of mine. Not too sure. His name’s Patron.

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Question from HD subscriber hungett:

Just saw on ESPN, that Avery Johnson may be an "outside the box" hire to replace Barnes.....your thoughts?

Answer:

I think it would be a great hire. It is the type of splash hire I think would generate a ton of buzz around the program and really excite recruits given his past.

Johnson is one of the more relatable individuals you will ever meet. Can you imagine that charismatic character strut into a recruit’s house with an NBA championship ring on and that Louisiana drawl?

Given his resources and the resources he’d have at his fingertips at UT, I think he’d be great.

Also, worth noting, he’s got ties to the DFW high school area where his son at Plano West (signed LOI with Texas A&M).

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Question from HD subscriber northdallaslonghorn:

Any opinions on how Giglio is doing compared to his predecessor Patrick Suddes? Also do we plan on having a Sophomore Day like we had under Suddes?

Answer:

Giglio is doing a fantastic job. Just look at the finished product that is the 2015 class and look at the haul UT has made to start the 2016 class. He has a good solid grip on what’s going on.

As for Sophomore Day, I’ll have to look into that. I’m not 100 percent certain at the moment.

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Question from HD subscriber jmf1973:

Hey William, thanks for the mailbag. It's water under the bridge, but I'm curious. It's documented that UT men's basketball needed to make changes in the assistant coaches for Rick Barnes to stay. Had he agreed to do that, would Barnes have chosen those hires or would someone else tell Barnes here are the coaches hired for you? Barnes mentioned he was shocked by the university leak Thursday. Ultimately, what was the reason for that leak? To embarass the coach? To push him out? To make it known the job would be vacant quickly to potential candidates? And did the way things play out limit the pool of candidates for the job? If a new hoops arena wasn't going to be built, would a change have been made in head coach?

So that's now two of the three head coaches most thought would be replaced with the hire of a new AD. What message are other head coaches at UT who've been there a long time being sent?

Let's go to football. A change in offense to an uptempo spread seemed to be unveiled at the open practice last week. If Texas HS didn't incorporate the spread & the current QBs on the roster weren't comfortable in it, do you think a change would have been installed? And please feel free to give me some reasons that the starting QB from 2014 will be better in 2015 if he wins the starting job. Thanks for your answers!

Answer:

Barnes would have had the authority to make those assistant coaching hires on his own.

I’m not sure why the information was leaked the way it was. I don’t think Patterson wanted to embarrass Barnes. But he might have wanted to, as you said, get the word out there as quickly as possible and to control the message.

I don’t think the way things played out will have any impact on the “size” of the coaching pool.

The message is simple: Win. That’s the bottom line. You’ve got to compete. But you have to keep in mind, as Barnes said Sunday, that nothing is more important that the integrity of the University. Keep that in mind, and win, and the coach will be fine.

On the issue of the spread offense, I think it certainly helped push Texas’ staff to using it a little more because, as Strong mentioned, those are the types of players he recruits so why change what they are comfortable with, especially if the rest of the Big 12 is using it?

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Question from HD subscriber HILonghorn9:

Who did you feel walked away most impressed from meeting the coaches/attending practices this weekend.

Answer:

A couple of names to throw at you are Duke Thomas, Hassan Ridgeway, Naashon Hughes, Malik Jefferson, Andrew Beck, John Bonney, Daje Johnson, Dorian Leonard, and Connor Williams.

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Question from HD subscriber drtxhorn1:

Hey Will, do you know what CS is thinking about the team after the first few days of spring ball? ( intensity or some improvement along the wayfo last year)

Answer:

We have not had but one media session with him this spring and he was encouraged by the direction of the team. However, in speaking with sources close to the team I can tell you that the intensity level has picked up substantially from Year 1.

A big reason for that is that because players have been in this system for a full season they are able to pin their ears back more and play, rather than worrying about not lining up correctly, etc.

I posted a video a recruit shot of practice on the message board over the weekend of Tim Cole and Blake Whitely getting into a shoving match after a play. The players loved it and you could tell the coaching staff let it go just long enough. That’s a good sign. There needs to be more of that.

And, as much as it might suck for the team that they lost so many good senior leaders [and Malcom Brown], it has made players jockey for those rights this spring. That is bringing out the best in everyone.

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Question from HD subscriber dogus:

What are you hearing about Myles Turner's decision? Will hiring a coach like Marshall make him return for his sophomore season or is he leaving for the NBA draft regardless? When will he officially announce his decision?

Answer:

Well it looks like this one has been answered for us as Turner turned pro this morning.

Here’s the answer I had written prior to his announcement:

Turner’s camp is keeping everything extremely quiet right now. Truly, it is too tough to say.

Given his draft projections I think it is going to be tough for him to come back regardless of who is the coach. But there are numerous reasons why he might want to come back.

He might feel like his game isn’t ready for the next level and needs another season to fine-tune his craft.

He’s a prideful individual who set out to accomplish a lot at UT this past season and didn’t accomplish very many – if any – team goals.

I will say this. Chip mentioned it on our board about John Lucas being a dark horse candidate. Lucas and Turner know each other well. That could be a turning point.

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Question from HD subscriber graven2010:

When will the next mens basketball coach be named?

Answer:

Well if Texas wants Greg Marshall it can wait until after April 15 and save $100,000 on a buyout he has with Wichita State. But Marshall might not be around for the taking by then given his reported interest in the Alabama job by our Chip Brown.

I think Texas wants to move relatively quickly on this but it can’t rush into a decision. It has to get the right guy and make sure they aren’t glancing over somebody worthwhile in a rush to make a hire.

A timetable for when this could get done is really hard to say but I’ll go out on a bit of a limb and say that this will get finished before the Mayweather- Pacquiao fight is over.

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Question from HD subscriber Mralph9:

Friend on the athletic training staff said he heard they think it's an ACL for Evans.

1. If he's out for the year, who starts opposite Duke?

2. I've seen Holton Hill on the 2 deep...what do people think of Devante Davis' playing time this year? Is there a chance he is in front of Hill?

Answer:

Let’s hope for his sake that him being out for the season isn’t the case. If Texas does have to move on without him then there are a few routes they could go.

One would be to simply be to let someone who at least has some collegiate game exposure have a shot in Bryson Echols or Antwuan Davis. I’m not sure the coaches want to move John Bonney away from that nickel corner slot, but they might have to.

I’m going to go with Echols for the moment because he was working second-string behind Evans. But this definitely opens the door for those other guys, including Holton Hill and Kris Boyd when they get to UT in the fall.

As for Davis, I definitely think he could see playing time this season. I thought that even before the injury to Evans. All three of these incoming freshmen have great size and that has to appeal to a staff that has to gameplan for so many different passing attacks in the Big 12.

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