Head coach Shaka Smart of the Texas Longhorns reacts as his team is defeated by the Texas-Arlington Mavericks 72-61at the Frank Erwin Center on November 29, 2016 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Chris Covatta/Getty Images)

BEVO BEAT Men's Basketball

ESPN’s Medcalf: Shaka Smart’s biggest challenge next season is ‘winning’

Posted May 16th, 2017

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ESPN college basketball writer Myron Medcalf, one of the few ESPN college basketball writers remaining following last month’s layoffs at ESPN, says Texas basketball coach Shaka Smart’s greatest challenge next season will be “winning.”

Medcalf examines the challenges facing several college basketball coaches following the NBA Draft Combine and winding down of the 2017 recruiting cycle, including Indiana’s first-year coach Archie Miller, UCLA’s Steve Alford and Oregon’s Dana Altman among others. Smart, the third-year coach at Texas is the lone Big 12 coach to make the list and Medcalf is blunt in his assessment.

After an 11-22 second season at Texas, Smart enters an important year three, something Medcalf underscores: “This wasn’t a bad offensive team. The Longhorns were horrible. And if they don’t improve, Smart will continue to face criticism and scrutiny that he never experienced at VCU.”

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However, he also points out that Smart’s contract, gives him some security as does the arrival of another top-10 recruiting class.

“The good news is that four-star point guard Matt Coleman is the star of a top-10 recruiting class,” he writes. “The Longhorns will guard hard. Smart’s squads haven’t finished below the top 50 in adjusted defensive efficiency since 2011.”

Smart’s ability to win could increase if guard Andrew Jones decides to return to campus and consensus top-5 2017 target, the last remaining uncommitted top-10 recruit in the nation, Mohamed Bamba decides to attend Texas next season.

More good news? Texas is guaranteed an alum will win a NBA Championship next month. With Tristan Thompson, Kevin Durant, Avery Bradley and LaMarcus Aldridge all on conference finalist rosters. With all four being starters on their teams, the Longhorns will have a presence in the game’s biggest stage, something that won’t hurt Smart’s recruiting in the future.

 

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