AUSTIN (KXAN) — Chris Beard’s only been on the job at Texas for four months, but he’s already transformed the program into his image.
He retains four guys from the 2020-21 roster, he’s brought in seven transfers from around the country and he’s signed two high school prospects. All together, he has the Longhorns positioned as a preseason top-five team, with some pundits predicting Texas as the No. 1 ranked team in the country for the upcoming season.
“Talent won’t be what differentiates us,” Beard said. “I think we’ll have enough talent on the roster to make a run. It’ll be the other things – chemistry, relationships, cohesiveness, culture, but I think with talent, we’re willing to put our guys up against anybody in the country, man on man.”
To his point, six of the seven transfers have at least two college seasons under their belt. Combined, they bring in a combined 18 total seasons at the collegiate level.
“757 Division I games played, close to 8,000 points, 3,000 rebounds – these transfers, it’s real,” Beard said.
And the four returning Longhorns – Jase Febres, Andrew Jones, Courtney Ramey and Brock Cunningham – have 14 years on campus. The talent and experience are there. Now it just comes down to if they can play together.
“I think we’ll be one of, if not the most experienced team in college basketball,” Beard said. “That was by design this first year. The four returners and the seven transfers give us a foundation that we think we can be more than relevant early. We want to be competitive this first year”
With all that talent, though, and the outsized expectations that come with the Longhorn logo and Beard’s track record at his previous stops, the expectation is to win now.
“I tell the guys all the time, they’re getting something done today in Morgantown, and we gotta try to get twice as much done cause, again, we’re kind of fighting time,” Beard said. “That’s how the whole can-you-win-your-first-year-with-a-new team deal goes down.”
But for all of Beard’s optimism, he readily admits that Texas is far from a finished product, often pointing out that the first game is less than 100 days away, and he plans to take full advantage of every one of them.
“We have a long ways to go,” Beard said. “We are nowhere near [ready]. Thank God the first game’s not tomorrow. We got these 97 days left to get there, but I do like where we’re heading. I like our guys’ unselfishness, I like their competitiveness. There’s a lot of positives around here that I recognize on a daily basis.”