Who’s running it back?: Looking ahead at Texas men’s basketball roster going into 2021-2022 season

Nathan Han

Editor’s Note: This article first appeared in the March 23 issue of The Daily Texan.

Heading into the 2020-2021 season, the Texas men’s basketball team was returning every single player from the year before.

Next season, however, the outlook for roster continuity looks much more bleak. Every single player has the option to return, given that the NCAA granted players an extra year of eligibility. But for players like sophomore forward Kai Jones, who is projected to be a first-round NBA draft pick, the option to leave and test the waters in professional play could be too enticing to resist.

One of Texas’ top talents might have already played his last minute as a Longhorn. Austin American-Statesman reporter Brian Davis reported that senior guard Matt Coleman is “unlikely to return” to the Forty Acres.

“I think he’s done all he can do to show the pro level who he is and what he brings to the table that he needs to go off and chase that dream,” Matt’s father, Cliff, said to Davis.

Coleman has been a mainstay throughout head coach Shaka Smart’s tenure at Texas. The senior point guard started all but one game in his four years as a Longhorn, where he accumulated 1,448 points.

Three other seniors face a similar decision: forward Jericho Sims, forward Royce Hamm Jr. and guard Jase Febres. Freshman forward Greg Brown, a former McDonald’s All-American, could potentially join Kai Jones and leave for the NBA draft early.

That leaves four players who are likely to return:

Courtney Ramey

The junior guard from St. Louis, Missouri, led the Longhorns in scoring and 3-point shooting percentage for the majority of the season.

Then, he hit a shooting slump at the worst possible time, scoring only six points in Texas’ last three games combined, shooting 2-for-21.

If Coleman leaves, Ramey will bear most of Texas’ playmaking responsibilities and much of the scoring load. So, whether or not Texas can get the early season version of Ramey or the end-of-season version will go a long way.

Brock Cunningham

Anybody who watches Texas basketball will appreciate Cunningham’s hustle and tenacity. But the redshirt sophomore forward will need to improve his 3-point shooting to embrace a larger role than the 15.2 minutes per game he played last season.

Shooting 25% from behind the arc limited the Longhorn offense when he was on the floor last season. Becoming at least an average floor-spacer would help Texas tremendously moving forward.

Donovan Williams

Williams is the next player up if the guard rotation sees its expected share of departures. For much of his first two seasons, the sophomore sat behind more experienced guards, and when he was on the court, played a secondary, off-ball role.

Next season will be a different story. Can Williams reliably make 3-point shots? Will he be able to create offense out of the pick and roll? Williams hasn’t had to answer those questions in his freshman and sophomore campaigns. Next year, he will.

Kamaka Hepa

Hepa was planning to redshirt his junior year before the NCAA granted players an extra year of eligibility. Because of the ruling, the forward ended up playing in nine games this season.

With Texas potentially losing lots of length in the frontcourt with Kai Jones, Brown and Sims, Hepa’s energy could prove crucial for whether or not Texas can maintain its status as an above-average defensive team.