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If you weren’t aware, the University of Texas men’s basketball program may have had the best offseason ever.
After being eliminated in embarrassing fashion by Abilene Christian in the first round of last year’s March Madness tournament, Texas and then head coach Shaka Smart decided that their time together was over. This left many wondering where the program would go from there.
Would it include taking an up-and-coming coach from a mid-major like Oklahoma did with former Loyola Chicago coach Porter Moser? Or would the Longhorns try to chase a big name at the Power Five level like Alabama’s Nate Oats?
Texas made a splash and went the Power Five route, but not only did they stay within the state, they managed to lure Texas Tech head coach Chris Beard to Austin.
It was a move that sent shockwaves through the college basketball world, and has only boosted the program higher with the signings that quickly followed. CBS Sports graded all the new coaching hires that occurred across college basketball this offseason, and the Chris Beard hire came in at the top spot.
Texas was given an A+ for the Beard hire.
Beard can flat-out coach, and as Texas fans have already learned, he can flat out recruit as well. Those attributes make him the no-doubt top hire of the 2021 carousel and should carry the Longhorns to their first NCAA Tournament victory since 2014 in his first season. It took Beard just three seasons to build a Final Four team at Texas Tech, and given his early trajectory at Texas, that seems like a fair over/under mark for how long it will take the Longhorns to reach that destination on his watch.
Texas has been an underachieving program for a while now, and Beard has expressed that his mission is to ensure that the Longhorns are contending every year and wants to take the program to the next level.
The Longhorns have benefited greatly from his presence, signing six of the top-31 ranked transfers this offseason, and landing a commitment from five-star guard Arterio Morris. Texas has also seen a significant jump in the preseason rankings, as Stadium’s Jeff Goodman has them at No. 2 in his preseason rankings.
This very well could be the best year of Texas basketball in quite some time, and the craziest part, is that it’s only year one under Beard.