Dylan Disu reflects on college journey from Vanderbilt to Texas

Payne Williams, Senior sports reporter

In his freshman and sophomore seasons at Vanderbilt, forward Dylan Disu was one of the most electric young players in college basketball.

Now a senior leader for No. 2 Texas men’s basketball, Disu took time to reflect on his journey to Texas, including injuries and a brief flirtation with the NBA Draft process.

“(Growing up,) I always watched the Texas Longhorns,” Disu said. “Going to the Final Four with this team and even further would be amazing.”

Despite his lofty goals for the Longhorns, Disu’s future with the team and college basketball was clouded last spring when he declared for the NBA Draft. The forward’s choice to enter the draft process came after a slow start and return from injury in his junior year at Texas.

“It was really more of something just to be able to get away, clear my head and return back here in the right headspace,” Disu said. “And just be ready to have the best year I possibly can.”

The senior worked out in the spring with LIFT Sports Management — the agency that has signed players like recent No. 1 overall pick Paolo Banchero and guard R. J. Hampton. However, Disu retained his eligibility after he didn’t officially sign with an agency and announced in May he would return to Texas for his senior season.

“I knew more than likely I’d be back here,” Disu said.

Many players choose to test the NBA Draft process prior to making an official decision on returning to school, leaving their future with their teams unclear. However, head coach Chris Beard was fully behind Disu during the process.

“We certainly wanted to give him that space and time to make his own decision,” Beard said Oct. 12. “We always wanted Dylan to do what he wanted to do.”

Disu’s career with the Longhorns began before the 2021 season when the forward joined several new transfers recruited by the newly-hired Beard.

The decision to transfer to Texas was rooted in Disu’s family and hometown ties. Disu attended Hendrickson High School, just 20 miles north of the Forty Acres. The senior said his family couldn’t attend many of his games at Vanderbilt due to the distance and cited that as a factor in his decision.

“Just giving my family the opportunity to watch me play because you never know how long you have,” Disu said. “And from a basketball standpoint, you want to win.”

Prior to his return to Austin, Disu was among the best in the SEC on both ends of the court. In his sophomore season, he led the conference in rebounds per game and led the Commodores in blocked shots and field goal percentage.

Disu was also the first Commodore since 2018 to record back-to-back double doubles and finished as the SEC’s Scholar-Athlete of the Year in 2021.

However, the Austin product didn’t enjoy the same success in his first year with the Longhorns. The junior entered the season with a knee injury that sidelined him for his final eight games at Vanderbilt and first eight at Texas.

When Disu finally saw the court in December 2021, he was limited in minutes for the first several games. Disu’s role limited his production throughout the season, but the senior is fully focused on this season.

“I’m not really too worried about last year,” Disu said. “I’ll use it as a learning experience.”

Fully healthy, the forward leads the Longhorns this season in blocks and effective field goal percentage. However, Disu isn’t worried about personal stats or accolades. This year, he’s focused on team success deep into the season.

“All I can do is play my best, and hopefully that turns into team success,” Disu said. “Last year, we had the goal of getting to the Final Four and winning the championship, and we didn’t get that done. I think that’s why the core of the team came back.”