Smart meets with media, discusses new signees

Trenton Daeschner

Head coach Shaka Smart walked into his press conference Wednesday afternoon nearly 10 minutes late — but it was for good reason.

“Sorry I’m a little bit late,” Smart said. “I was actually on the phone with a recruit.”

It’s that time of year again for college basketball coaches around the country as Wednesday marked the first day of the spring signing period for recruits.

Wednesday’s press conference came directly on the heels of some important news surrounding the program. The school announced Tuesday night that freshman forward and NBA Draft prospect Jarrett Allen will hire an agent and not return to Texas.

Four-star point guard Matt Coleman of Oak Hill Academy (Virginia) signed his national letter of intent Wednesday morning. Coleman, who Smart has recruited since middle school, is widely considered to be the true floor general that Texas is missing.

“Matt Coleman is a pure point guard,” Smart said. “He orchestrates offense, he gets other guys shots, he makes everyone around him better … He’s always been beyond his years in the way that he plays. He’s just gotten better and better over the years.”

The official addition of Coleman gives the Longhorns four signees in their 2017 recruiting class, which currently is ranked No. 6 in the nation by 247Sports.

Texas’ 2017 class also includes four-star shooting guard Jase Febres of Westfield High School (Houston), four-star power forward Royce Hamm of Aldine Davis High School (Houston) and four-star power forward Jericho Sims of Cristo Rey Jesuit High School (Minnesota).

 Smart said he’s not done recruiting yet for this year’s class and that there could be more players on the way to Austin with three scholarships still available.

One of Smart’s main objectives moving forward is luring the prized No. 3 player in the nation, five-star power forward Mohamed Bamba, to Texas. Bamba, a Westtown School (New York City) product, also holds offers from Kentucky and Duke. Bamba was on the Team USA under-18 national team last summer, which was coached by Smart, along with Allen, Coleman and freshman center James Banks.

Smart could not comment on Bamba Wednesday due to NCAA rules prohibiting coaches from talking about any recruits who are unsigned. But Smart did say he is still looking to fill the hole Allen left.

“We’re looking for a big that can really fit who we want to be on and off the court,” Smart said. “With losing Jarrett, there is a spot there. We feel like we have a lot to offer. We feel like Jarrett is a really, really good testament to what happens if you come in here and you work hard, you develop, you grow, you follow our plan.”

While Wednesday might have been a bit of a refreshing day for the program, Smart still was inevitably asked about last season, the worst since 1982-83. It’s been five weeks since Texas’ loss to West Virginia at the Big 12 Tournament ended the season. Smart says he’s been watching old games in reverse order and taking notes on where there needs to be improvement.

“As soon as the season gets done, it’s about how can we help these guys move forward,” Smart said. “What you don’t want to do is just flush the season down the toilet. As much as some of those guys might have wanted to do that, you got to get up close and personal with it and learn from it.”