Listen to Austin 360 Radio

Texas' Beard intends to recruit, for sure, but he's showing early touch securing transfers

Mark Rosner
American-Statesman Correspondent
Then-Texas Tech coach Chris Beard, left, greets then-Texas coach Shaka Smart before a past game in Lubbock. Smart left UT after this past season and is now the head coach at Marquette and Beard, after a successful five seasons with the Red Raiders, is coaching the Longhorns.

If Chris Beard’s first Texas men's basketball roster is an indication, the new coach has a blueprint for assembly.

Not that anybody should be too surprised. Beard said at his introductory news conference in early April that he will recruit some of the best high school players while angling for helpful veterans from the NCAA’s transfer portal.

That’s what he has done in four months at Texas. Beard signed high school star Jaylon Tyson, who originally had agreed to play for him at Texas Tech, but made his biggest splash by diving headfirst into the portal. 

From that resource came big men Tre Mitchell, Dylan Disu and Christian Bishop, small forward Timmy Allen and guards Marcus Carr, Devin Askew and Avery Benson. The seven combined to score 89 points a game last season.

How dominant was Beard in that domain?

Both watchstadium.com and CBS.com had Carr, who left Minnesota, as the No. 1 player in the portal. Both outlets ranked Mitchell and Allen among their best 10, and Disu, a Hendrickson High grad, in the top 20.

More: Three Longhorns taken in NBA draft, most since 2011

Beard, a 1995 UT graduate who left Texas Tech after five seasons, said he had a feeling entering the portal that he would leave with a nice haul.

“That’s why I took the job,” Beard said on Wednesday. “The brand is real. There was some confidence coming in that we could put a (talented) team together.”

This approach by Beard, taking proven players, seems to mitigate risk. In that group of transfers, only Askew was among the top 80 high school recruits in the country — No. 32 — in the 247Sports composite rankings. 

Even so, Mitchell (No. 84), Allen (No. 129) and Carr (No. 146) made all-conference teams. Disu (No. 132) led the SEC in rebounding before an injury cut his 2020-21 season short.

More: Texas regents expected to approve Beard's contract

"We got about four screens that are on the portal, you know, all day long, and guys pop, you scramble and you start making calls," Beard said.

Beard says he intends to recruit the best players across all kinds of borders. One of his stars at Tech, Davide Moretti, is from Italy.

“The foundation of the program is going to be high school recruiting, not only in Texas but worldwide,” Beard said.

And with necessary experience from the transfer portal, players he can confidently plug right in to the lineup.

“You're never gonna hear me sitting up here saying 'in two years, we're gonna be really good.' That's not quite how it works,” Beard said. “That’s not how my boss (UT athletic director Chris Del Conte) works, either, and I understand. I love that kind of expectation.”

SEC is for later: Beard said he did not know that Texas was working on a move to the SEC until one of his assistants noticed it on a TV report. 

“I’ve spent zero minutes, maybe a few seconds, thinking about it,” Beard said. “We talked about it one time with our team. And it was really an example I made with our team about how we're going to live where our feet are, and we're going to control what we can control.”

The holdovers: Beard made sure he acknowledged four players who returned after Shaka Smart left for Marquette — starters Andrew Jones and Courtney Ramey, and subs Jase Febres and Brock Cunningham. 

“If these guys would have been in the portal, if these guys would have been high school players, we would have recruited them,” Beard said. 

One who left: Former Longhorn Matt Coleman, an undrafted point guard, produced 14 points and four assists Tuesday in his first game with the Sacramento Kings' summer league team.