Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022

Storylines that will define Texas men’s basketball’s 2023-2024 season

Julius Shieh

Less than three weeks from its opener against Incarnate Word, Texas men’s basketball’s first full season under Rodney Terry still has some question marks.

Tuesday’s Orange-White scrimmage gave a first look at a number of the newcomers that look to replicate last season’s success — both on the roster and the coaching staff. Sophomore forward Dillon Mitchell and junior UTEP transfer Ze’Rik Onyema flashed expanded offensive repertoires that will be critical early on with graduate student bigs Dylan Disu and Kadin Shedrick recovering from injury.

Ranked No. 18 in AP’s Top 25 preseason poll, the Longhorns should find success early on against weaker competition, but look to be in the thick of a loaded Big 12. With just three major contributors from last year’s Elite Eight squad likely to suit up on opening night, the new faces need to find chemistry before interconference play.

Here’s a look at some storylines that will define the ceiling for Texas this season:

Dylan Disu’s jumpshot

The hometown kid came on strong late last season, earning the Big 12 Tournament MVP distinction and powering Texas to a Sweet 16 berth behind a 28-point performance against Penn State. However, he was ruled out with a foot issue in the opening minutes against Xavier, a lingering injury that undoubtedly hurt the Longhorns’ chances in the Elite Eight against Miami and one that currently keeps him sidelined.

While it’s unclear when Disu might make his season debut, his presence will immediately elevate Texas’ offensive capabilities — largely due to the confidence he gained away from the rim as last season wore on. Throughout the 2023 campaign, Disu’s floater went from an occasional flash to arguably the team’s most lethal look offensively.

Terry poached Cory Schlesinger from the Phoenix Suns this offseason and the assistant coach has emphasized making everyone on the roster a shooter.

“If you have (a roster) one through 15 who can shoot the ball at a higher clip,” Schlesinger said. “(We’re) kind of harder to guard.”

If Disu returns shooting confidently from the midrange and can force teams to respect his three pointer, then Texas will add another dimension offensively that few teams in the country can defend against.

How soon can Chris Johnson impact winning

One of the more promising developments in the Orange-White scrimmage was the impressive play of guard Chris Johnson. Signed this summer after de-committing from Kansas, the true freshman did not appear rushed operating as the white team’s point guard.

Terry noted that as it stands Johnson is fourth or fifth in the guard rotation and will benefit from watching more experienced guards in graduate student transfer Max Abmas and junior Tyrese Hunter run the offense. However, Johnson’s size and defensive potential are unique on the current roster and may make it hard to keep him off the floor, especially with injuries bound to occur throughout the season.

Expecting Johnson to step in as an immediate impact contributor isn’t reasonable, but he should get minutes at the end of blowouts to familiarize himself with the college pace. Come springtime, if he continues on his current trajectory, he could be a major x-factor for the Longhorns in postseason basketball.

Kadin Shedrick’s stretch-5 potential

While he hasn’t been cleared yet and his status for opening night remains up in the air, Virginia transfer Shedrick looked eager to play ahead of the Orange-White scrimmage, moving fluidly and knocking down threes in warmups.

Shedrick arrives at Texas from one of the premier programs in the country looking to offer the Longhorns an anchor down low with shooting upside. While Timmy Allen and Christian Bishop had moments guarding the paint, Shedrick is a true rim protector, something that Texas hasn’t had in years past and that will be pivotal in guarding players like Kansas’ new transfer Hunter Dickinson.

Shedrick is an elite finisher inside but if he can threaten teams with a jump shot, like Disu, he would open up the offense tremendously and space the floor for others.

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About the Contributor
Julius Shieh, Associate Photo Editor
Julius is a third year student from Avon, Connecticut, studying History. He currently serves as the Texan's Associate Photo Editor.