Texas coach Shaka Smart has proven he can recruit scoring guards. Lengthy power forwards with 3-point shooting ability aren’t everywhere, though.
The Longhorns may have caught a break when Mareik Isom, a 6-foot-9 power forward at Arkansas-Little Rock, wanted to come back home.
The Bowie graduate earned a psychology degree from UALR in December 2015 and will transfer to Texas this season while working on a Master’s degree. As a graduate transfer, Isom is eligible to play immediately.
“It’s awesome. It’s unreal, a dream come true,” Isom said Tuesday. “I’ve been going to UT games since I was a baby, just as long as I can remember. I’m just blessed to have the opportunity to play in the Erwin Center and put that jersey on, especially knowing the people who came before me and just being from here.”
Texas needed a replacement for senior Connor Lammert, and the Austin native who turns 22 this July may fill the bill.
Isom led the Sun Belt Conference in 3-point shooting percentage (.450) as a sophomore. He was fourth in the league from long range last season after hitting 42 of 106 3-pointers (.396). For comparison, Lammert shot 33.6 percent from 3-point range last season (48-for-143).
Isom averaged 5.9 points and 2.7 rebounds last season at UALR, a team that garnered national attention in March by knocking off Purdue in the NCAA Tournament.
“He didn’t leave Little Rock because he was unhappy,” said Kendall Isom, Mareik’s father. “He just left there because he wanted to play his last year closer to home, where his family can come see him play live and more often. You couldn’t ask for a better fit.”
Isom has begun the enrollment process and will take part in summer school. Texas officials are not allowed to comment until the UT compliance department approves Isom’s paperwork.
Asked how he envisions his role, Mareik Isom said, “Just kind of stretch the floor, hit some shots, make life easier for the bigs, do what I can.”
With Isom joining the fold, the Longhorns have almost rebuilt the roster after losing six players from this past season’s team. A seventh player, Jordan Barnett, transferred out at mid-season.
Andrew Jones, Jacob Young and James Banks have all signed letters of intent and will join the team as freshmen. Dylan Osetkowski, a 6-foot-8 forward, is transferring in from Tulane and will sit out this season, per NCAA transfer rules.
Texas also is still chasing Jarrett Allen’s autograph on scholarship paperwork. Allen, a five-star forward from St. Stephen’s, is believed to be considering Texas, Kansas and Houston.
It’s possible that Texas won’t give out its full allotment of 13 scholarships. Smart and his staff generally prefer to always keep one spot open for flexibility.
Contact Brian Davis at 512-445-3957. Email email@example.com.