New Texas men’s basketball staff embraces alternate recruiting style

Matthew Boncosky

In this day and age of college basketball, it can be hard to keep track of which playmakers are suiting up for which team as athletes transfer left and right.

The new Texas men’s basketball coaching staff under head coach Chris Beard knows they must adapt to the game’s current recruiting reality. With record numbers of athletes in the transfer portal this offseason and the NCAA’s new transfer rules allowing any athlete to switch teams once without having to sit out a season or apply for immediate eligibility, gone are the days of relying on traditional high school recruiting.

“I think every program and every coaching staff is trying to figure that out,” new assistant coach Jerrance Howard said at a Wednesday teleconference. “With the portal, this is a game changer.”

Recruiting used to, and still does, primarily focus on high school talent making its way into the college ranks. But now, an equal amount of focus must be put on recruiting athletes who have already competed at the collegiate level to keep up with the changing times.

“Recruiting has really changed over the last decade,” said Rodney Terry, new associate head coach. “(It) used to be where we could bring in a guy, and we could project that he was gonna probably be in school maybe three years, maybe two years, sometimes maybe even one year at a time, but we knew he was going to be here with no intentions of possibly going anywhere else in terms of his development. That’s not the case anymore.”

The increased popularity of the transfer portal and the revised transfer rules provide a unique opportunity for new coaching staffs to hit the ground running in terms of acquiring talent and building a competitive roster. It used to take several years for coaching regimes to recruit and develop high school talent into a deep roster that could be successful. Now, with the greater availability of experienced players at the collegiate level, program turnarounds can take shape in just a few weeks.

Beard’s freshly acquired staff has done just that, quickly bringing in four transfers to jumpstart their Texas tenures.

“(When) we got here a couple of weeks ago, we only had one guy on the roster that was committed to coming back. So we’ve had to try to really rebuild a team and a roster in a short amount of time,” Terry said. “Coach (Beard) has done a phenomenal job in terms of recruiting and really selling youngsters on opportunities (here).”

Assistant coach Ulric Maligi, along with Beard, mastered the art of recruiting via the portal while serving in the same role at Texas Tech. That success was a large reason why Maligi chose to follow Beard to Texas. 

“I think he’s the best in the country,” Maligi said. “He’s proven that in terms of being able to build teams in one-year settings.”

With the 2021-2022 season still many months away, expect Maligi and the rest of the Texas staff to continue working the phones on the recruiting trail, selling their own skills as well as the proven track record of their head coach who brought them all here.

“He’s had great success with transfers (and) obviously, you know, we get a chance to use that in recruiting,” Maligi said. “And I think it’s allowed us to be able to put together a class that we’re really excited about here at Texas.”