HD Mailbag: Shaka's Start, Taylor's Decision

In this week's HD Mailbag I answer questions about Shaka Smart's start and Isaiah Taylor's decision.

Question from HD subscriber ajfranz95:

Smart is already making moves on the 2016/2017 class and I love it. But I was wondering is he going to have any surprise 2015 kids sign on board? Is it true he offered a SG grad who's immediately available to transfer? Do we switch any of his VCU commits? Any news for 2015 would be great!

ANSWER:

Smart has certainly hit the ground running. I think you’ll see a bit of a different player make their way to Austin under Smart – A little more focus on shooting.

Too early to say about a surprise 2015 kid but there are a few names in mind that I think would work well with his style of play. One of those is four-star SG Kobie Eubanks. He’s the No. 54 player overall in 2015.

I’ve heard some stuff on a possible transfer but haven’t pinned anything down definitively. Keep an eye out for another PF – Ray Kasongo was a favorite of the old staff.

Recruits from East of the Mississippi have suddenly become big targets for UT.

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Question from HD subscriber dscoftx:

In another thread shadyangler brought up a like button (or a hook em button) that I agree would be awesome. Have you seen that thread yet? What's the chances we can make that happen?

ANSWER:

I’ve seen it, marveled at it, smiled at it and love the idea. We are doing what we can to make this happen. Will keep you all updated on this! Great idea by the way. We are always open to ideas you all have. So keep them coming. This is y’alls site.

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Question from HD subscriber dogus:

What's the latest on Isaiah Taylor and his decision to possibly enter the NBA draft? Prince Ibeh mentioned on Friday that Taylor was about 50-50 on leaving early.

Draftexpress.com doesn't even have him listed as being drafted in its latest mock draft.

Who's giving him advice to leave? When is the deadline to declare for the NBA draft?

ANSWER:

Had you asked me this question the day/ day after Smart was hired I’d have told you that the hire really excited Taylor and that I thought he was likely to return.

Now, I’m not so sure.

Personally, I don’t think he’s ready. His jump shot isn’t ready. I think he needs to improve on low-post entries too.

The deadline to enter the NBA Draft is April 26 at 10:59 p.m. CT.

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Question from HD subscriber HILonghorn9:

Who's the next 2016 offer that goes out? 2017?

Also would love to hear your thoughts on UT baseball right now. Strong opponents, playing bad, or what

ANSWER:

If I were Texas I’d get an offer out to 2016 DE Isaiah Chambers (Houston/MacAthur). As for a 2017 recruit to look at, how about S Derrick Tucker (Manvel, Texas) and OC Jack Anderson (Frisco, Texas)?

The Longhorns have a good thing going at Manvel and Anderson is as good a 2017 lineman as there is in the state. He’s not the biggest recruit but he’s sturdy and has great technique.

I think so much of what is going on with UT’s baseball team is between the ears. The game, as Augie will tell you, is largely mental. I think Texas’ confidence has been shook a bit. Still a long way to go.

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Question from HD subscriber SMTX65:

The Baseball team has obviously been a major disappointment this season. The team seems to play flat and uninspired. Will Augie consider retirement after the season?

ANSWER:

Augie said before the season that he will bring another CWS title to Austin before he retires. I think he likes the direction of the program despite their current struggles. The staff’s ability to retain their signings over the last two classes is a great sign.

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Question from HD subscriber Stefdakiid:

Patterson has changed 2 coaches, do you see him changing the game day atmospheres for both sports as well?

Which Coach and Position group seem to be gelling together the best?

ANSWER:

I do. Patterson has been quotes as saying that he isn’t satisfied with the football gameday atmosphere. He’s noted that the wifi is not where is should be, the sound system isn’t either, wants better consistency with the video system.

Patterson, as Barnes noted, helped improve the atmosphere at the Frank Erwin Center this past season, making it much more fan-friendly, engaging and loud (See: DJ). That should only continue to improve with the arrival of Shaka Smart.

I’ll tell you this: I’ve heard nothing but good things about the WRs and how much they respect Jay Norvell. Funny thing is he actually recruited a good chunk of them to OU.

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Question from HD subscriber MBHORNSFAN:

This is a two part question but what in your opinion is hindering Texas from becoming a power in basketball like we see with Duke, Kentucky etc.? Also with football what is the reasons we are not at the Alabama, Ohio State, FSU level. I find it complete failure that a University the size of Texas and with the fanbase/resources that we are a middle of the pack athletic department.

ANSWER:

In regards to basketball, it’s a little unfair to compare the program to the Duke’s and Kentucky’s of the world simply because they are basketball-first schools and have rich histories, legendary coaches.

I think Texas has the right coach in place to make a push toward becoming more of what you want. But the program has to have success in March/April to get there. Winning cures all.

I do think a new arena/practice facility will do a world of good to.

Like basketball, I think football is in a bit of a transition period in terms of upgrading facilities, improving gameday atmosphere, etc. Once those things get caught up/surpass the Baylor’s Texas A&M’s of the world, I think UT will be just fine… as long as the product on the field matches the green being pumped into the stadium/facilities.

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Question from HD subscriber northdallaslonghorn:

Any reason we're not on Isaiah Chambers hard?

Are we having a Sophmore Day? When is UTL?

ANSWER:

I think the offer will come. Some times it simply just takes a bit longer for the staff to come around on certain prospects. Chambers has the skillset and measurable to play at UT. I think he’ll get that chance.

We have not been told if Texas will have a Sophomore Day and Texas hasn’t announced when UTL will be, but I believe it will happen around the same time as last year (mid-July).

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Question from HD subscriber TexasEx08:

I know Strong's first season was rough, but it showed how bad things were within the program and how much work is needed to rebuild it. With that said, how do you think the fans or recruits will feel if Texas wins 7-8 games next year? I can see a situation where the offense could be the bright spot early and the defense improves throughout the season. I'm just concerned about all the injuries to the veterans on defense with very little experience backing them up. I feel this team could be like Arkansas was last year and make huge strides as the season progresses and have some momentum going into Strong's third season.

ANSWER:

If Texas finds it stride late and finishes the season like Arkansas did, I can’t imagine the fan base not being comfortable with the direction of the program. I think that would be an ideal situation for the Longhorns to be honest. Great example by you.

I’m with you on the offense being the bright spot early and the defense coming a long a little later. One reason I do think that will be the case is because I truly believe these freshmen defenders are going to play a critical roll at LB and in the secondary.

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Question from HD subscriber jmf1973:

Hey William, thanks for the mailbag. Reports are surfacing that Avery Johnson is the new head coach at Alabama. What kind of impact will that have in recruiting the state of Texas? I've read that a&m's 2015 signees played for an AAU that Johnson had ties to. I would think he'd have to disassociate himself from that team if he has a say on day-to-day activities, but I don't know enough about all of that. Will you please shed some light?

Shaka Smart's hire has generated some excitement around the UT fan who only seems to care about hoops during the NCAA tournament. In your opinion, besides convincing Isaiah Taylor to return, what are reasonable expectations for Smart in his first year here? I've been so disappointed in the men's team for several years that I stopped watching & would love to read something from those who are true fans/experts.

How many spring football practices remain for the Horns? Please list 5 things on the to-do list you believe the players & coaches have accomplished so far. Thanks for your answers!

ANSWER:

Johnson is going to make waves in the Metroplex so Shaka would be wise to assemble his staff and get them out there quickly.

Johnson’s son, Avery Johnson Jr., played for an AAU team called the Texas Titans, who, in my opinion, are a top 5 AAU team in the country. Even though Johnson Sr. will have to separate his direct ties with the program, his history there is going to be hard to overcome for other coaches.

Reasonable expectations: There is no reason why Texas shouldn’t compete for the Big 12 title and have a chance at making it past the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament.

Obviously it would help a ton if Taylor came back but UT should have enough even if he leaves to be successful. Kendal Yancy really came into his own. I think Jordan Barnett will be a big contributor next season. Shaq Cleare should have every UT fan excited. The two freshmen coming in can flat out shoot. Plus, I don’t think Shaka is finished in 2015. Don’t be shocked if he brings in a transfer at either the PG or SG position.

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