The question has been a legitimate concern of Longhorns basketball teams for years: Can they shoot?
Texas was seventh in the Big 12 last season in field goal percentage at 43 percent and sixth in three-point field goal percentage at .339 percent.
The Longhorns were ninth and eighth in the Big 12 in those respective categories during the 2013-14 season, and eighth and ninth respectively in 2012-13.
That ain’t good.
So, Shaka Smart, can this team shoot?
“Do we have anyone that can hit a jump shot besides assistant coach Darrin Horn,” Smart smiled. “We’re going to have to do that by committee. We don’t necessarily have A.J. Abrams on this team but I think we have some guys that can step up and hit shots at different times.”
Of Texas’ jump shooters last season Demarcus Holland, a player more known for his lockdown defense, was Texas best shooter at 49 percent. Javan Felix shot 41 percent while Kendal Yancy and Isaiah Taylor were above 40 percent by the slightest of margins.
That has to improve if the Longhorns want to contend in the Big 12.
Smart is confident that they will.
“At VCU my second year we had six different guys make 30 or more threes,” he said. “It’s really valuable because different guys can come into a game and make shots. I’m not saying this is as good a shooting team as that, but we can continue to develop and be that good of a shooting team if we pass the ball better. The passer makes the shooter. We have to do a better job of creating and getting guys shots where we want them and when we want them.”
Smart said that right now freshman Tevin Mack is shooting the ball the best of anyone. If you asked the players themselves who the best shooter is, you’d get a different answer.
“If you ask these guys about six of these guys will raise their hand,” Smart said. “Eric Davis thinks he is. Jordan Barnett thinks he is. Javan, Javan definitely thinks he is. He thinks he’s taller than me but he’s not.”
A player the Longhorns definitely need to be on point this season is stretch-four Connor Lammert. He shot 39 percent from the field last season and only hit on 26 of his 88 three-point attempts.
“Connor is going to be big for us,” Smart said. “In our system we really, really benefit from bigs that can shoot from the floor and make plays, and that can run the floor with the guards, trail the play and catch-and-shoot.”
With Jonathan Holmes gone that responsibility shifts even more to Lammert and his slick-looking lefty jumper. If he can stretch the floor and hit from the outside it will open up a plethora of possibilities elsewhere.