UT White's Eric Davis Jr., right, tries to get past UT Orange's Jacob Young in the first half at the Texas Tip-Off at Gregory Gym on Thursday October 20, 2016. JAY JANNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

BEVO BEAT

Texas 23rd in Kevin Lyttle’s AP preseason basketball ballot

A whole new lineup for Longhorns, but a promising one

Posted October 31st, 2016

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For the fourth year in a row, I am honored to be part of The Associated Press’ national media panel of voters for the men’s basketball poll.

There are 65 of us spread across the country. Texas has three voters, one of six states with three. No state has as many as four voters.

The AP will release its preseason poll today (Monday) just before noon. The regular season begins Friday, Nov. 11, and there will be a poll each Monday.

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So what of Texas?

I have the Longhorns No. 23, which may be a leap of faith because they lost all five starters from the lineup that took the floor in the Big 12 and NCAA tournaments.

No. 23 is exactly where Texas was ranked going into last year’s NCAA Tournament. The Longhorns were not ranked in the preseason.

This team will take a while to gel because there are so many new pieces, but they are talented ones.

Guards Eric Davis and Kerwin Roach and swing man Tevin Mack saw considerable action last season, and Davis could become a significant offensive threat.

The real excitement over this team’s possibilities comes from the nation’s fifth-ranked recruiting class, led by McDonald’s All-American Jarrett Allen. The 6-foot-11-inch post from St. Stephen’s is a five-star, one of the consensus top prizes in the nation.

Allen will be joined by highly touted four-star guards Andrew Jones and Jacob Young and center James Banks. A lot of points and minutes will eventually come from this group.

Toss in coach Shaka Smart, one of the game’s sharpest coaches, and the Longhorns could be quite good by the end of the season.

It also helps that the Big 12 is likely to be down this year after a long run of excellence. Every good team but Kansas lost most of its top players.

The Big 12, which is accustomed to having six teams in the Top 25, might only have two or three in the preseason poll and during the regular season.

Kansas is my No. 3 team. After that, it really thins out. Texas and West Virginia could sneak into the lower reaches of the preseason Top 25. I have the Mountaineers at No. 22. And that’s probably it for now.

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KEVIN LYTTLE’S AP PRESEASON TOP 25 BALLOT

1. Duke………………….ACC
2. Villanova……………Big East
3. Kansas……………….Big 12
4. Kentucky……………SEC
5. Oregon………………Pac-12
6. Xavier…………………Big East
7. North Carolina…..ACC
8. Wisconsin…………..Big Ten
9. Arizona……………….Pac-12
10. Indiana……………..Big Ten
11. Virginia…………….ACC
12. Michigan State…Big Ten
13. Syracuse…………..ACC
14. Saint Mary’s……..West Coast
15. Gonzaga……………West Coast
16. Connecticut……..American
17. Rhode Island…….Atlantic 10
18. UCLA…………………Pac-12
19. Louisville…………..ACC
20. Dayton………………Atlantic 10
21. Cincinnati………….American
22. West Virginia…….Big 12
23. Texas…………………Big 12
24. Purdue………………Big Ten
25. Texas A&M………..SEC

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