Basketball

Chris Beard has built rosters in multiple ways, and will need to do so immediately

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Chris Beard developed a multi-faceted recruiting strategy in his five seasons at Texas Tech, crafting rosters with blue-chip and underrated high school prospects in addition to several transfers. With a one-time transfer exception pending approval by the NCAA D1 Council, and the state of flux the Longhorn roster finds itself in, Beard will need to showcase his roster building abilities as one of his first acts leading the Longhorn program.

The 2021-22 Texas roster will barely resemble the 2020-21 roster. Greg Brown III, Kai Jones, and Jericho Sims are likely playing professional basketball next year, with Jones having already made his declaration for the NBA Draft. Royce Hamm announced his intent to play his final year of eligibility elsewhere on March 23, the same day Donovan Williams entered the transfer portal.

Sims, Matt Coleman, and Jase Febres could return for another season thanks to the NCAA, but whether they would stay for a new coach after four years at Texas is hard to determine. Even juniors Andrew Jones and Courtney Ramey could choose another playing option next season, professional or otherwise.

There’s no telling who could join or remain on the UT roster for Beard’s first season. Even one of Texas’ four high school signees, Tamar Bates, recently asked to be released from his letter of intent.

Whether other signees Emarion Ellis, David Joplin, or Keeyan Itejere stick with their signatures is unknown, too. It will be worth following if Beard’s lone 2021 signee at Texas Tech, Plano John Paul II forward Jaylon Tyson, follows through on his intent to play on the South Plains or if Beard coaxes him to play in burnt orange.

Beard has experience in crafting a roster that wins games despite year-to-year turnover in important spots. The leading scorers for the 2019-20 Red Raiders were Jahmi’us Ramsey, Davide Moretti, and Kyler Edwards. Ramsey and Moretti both sought professional opportunities after the season. Edwards remained to join transfer Mac McClung and sophomore Terrence Shannon as the top three scorers in 2020-21.

With new names entering the portal on a daily basis and the impending one-time transfer exception, Texas should be active in the recruitment of high-major caliber players seeking a new home. Beard himself has good evidence an important piece can be found in the portal, not with just McClung but also with South Dakota transfer Matt Mooney on his national finalist team.

Beard took transfers ahead of each of the last two seasons. Joel Ntambwe, Chris Clarke, and TJ Holyfield joined the TTU roster ahead of the 2019-20 season, while McClung, Marcos Santos-Silva, and Jamarius Burton were transfers integral to the 2020-21 team.

If Beard and Texas remains passive with the portal, then the roster the new head coach begins with may put the program in a difficult situation in year one. Beard has shown in his career he won’t remain passive in building a lineup and roster. It’ll be one of his biggest tasks as he takes over the hoops program on the Forty Acres.