Texas basketball vaulted to Big 12 contender status with Tyrese Hunter

Tyrese Hunter (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
Tyrese Hunter (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images) /

What could wind up being the biggest addition out of the NCAA Transfer Portal for head coach Chris Beard and the Texas basketball program throughout the entire offseason came entering this holiday weekend in the form of the former Iowa State Cyclones stud freshman guard Tyrese Hunter. Texas added the commitment out of the transfer portal on the afternoon of May 27 from the reigning Big 12 Newcomer of the Year Hunter in what likely boiled down to a decision between just a few schools.

Beard and the Longhorns looked to be involved with some other top schools that namely included the Tennessee Volunteers and Louisville Cardinals in the race to land a commitment out of the portal from Hunter. And this was ultimately a huge win for the Longhorns to secure one of the best available players on the transfer market this spring.

Texas will now have one of the most stacked backcourts in the Big 12 this season, if not the entire country. Adding Hunter to an already potent mix that includes incoming five-star freshman point guard Arterio Morris, four-star point guard Rowan Brumbaugh, and super senior Marcus Carr, will be really dangerous.

Moreover, Hunter announced his commitment to Texas on his Twitter timeline on the afternoon of May 27. This was a scheduled commitment that was expected to be a battle between Texas and Tennessee. And obviously, this was a huge win for the Longhorns.

Texas is getting the reigning Big 12 Newcomer of the Year and their likely starting point guard for next season in Hunter. He helps to solve the issue for the Longhorns of finding their starting point guard for next season that was assumed to be decided between Morris and Carr.

Texas basketball gets huge upgrade to backcourt unit by landing Tyrese Hunter

Beard and the Longhorns staff can now be more patient with the development of both Morris and Brumbaugh while playing Carr in more of a natural position for his skill set as more of a combo guard at the two.

What the Longhorns are specifically getting out of Hunter is an immediate impact floor general that should spark this team on both ends of the floor. As previously noted, Hunter is likely to be the starter at the one for Texas right away next season.

He is going to provide a much more dynamic two-way presence than the Longhorns have in this backcourt rotation otherwise. The 6-foot-1 and 180-pound Hunter is a good athlete that excels as a two-way floor general that can play heavy minutes (averaging just shy of 32 minutes per game last season).

On the defensive end of the floor, Hunter is a very agile guard that can keep up with most any point guard on the perimeter. His lack of length (at least compared to most NBA-caliber guards) is made up by his explosiveness, agility, and grittiness in defending on the perimeter.

You can see the type of disruptiveness that Hunter can bring to the table since he averaged two steals per game last season and was part of an Iowa State defense that allowed just 62.5 points per game (good for 21st in the country).

The advanced metrics also do a nice job painting the picture of the type of impact Hunter can make on the defensive end of the floor.

His 3.7 defensive box plus/minus ranked 13th in the Big 12 last season and his impressive 2.5 defensive win shares was good for second in the Big 12. That’s not to mention that he finished in the top 10 in the Big 12 last season in defensive rating (92.2).

Texas is going to have quite the perimeter duo defensively between Hunter and Carr. This could potentially be the best defensive guard duo in the Big 12 next season.

What really separates Hunter from the rest of the pack, though, among other Big 12 guards is the impact he makes as a true floor general on the offensive end of the floor. Hunter is a very gifted athlete that is lightning fast off the dribble and has enough strength and vertical ability in his game to explode to the rim.

Whenever Hunter is given a lane, he will be able to penetrate the defense and get to the rim in the blink of an eye.

And as soon as opposing defenses think they can get help over and get in the way of Hunter’s drives through the lane, he’s able to adjust quickly and kick the ball out to his open teammates on the perimeter.

Hunter has great court vision, which keeps opposing defenses guessing, especially when you surround him with capable open shot makers. He showed off what he can do in terms of facilitating an offense last season by averaging around five assists per game, which ranked third in the Big 12.

And his assist percentage (an impressive 32.3) was good for second in the Big 12.

Another interesting dynamic in Hunter’s game that will add another dimension to this Texas offense now is his ability to make things happen off-ball on offense. Hunter is a smart off-ball player on offense, which allows him to be effective through motioning through screens and give-and-go drives.

There were oftentimes last season when the Longhorns’ offense lacked off-ball movement, especially around the perimeter. Hunter will be able to command this Texas offense and get some fluent motion going around the perimeter, which will limit some of the offensive lags that this team will have next season compared to last.

In terms of scoring/shot creation, Hunter excels on the inside and in getting to the free-throw line more so than outside shooting. His deep shooting ability is still a notable area of improvement he must focus on this offseason. Last season, Hunter shot just 27.4 percent from beyond the arc.

Hunter did start to show more efficiency with his outside shooting at the end of last season, though. He shot 44.4 percent from beyond the arc on 18 attempts in the NCAA Tournament. And he shot around 35 percent from beyond the arc in the final two months of the season.

That is an encouraging trend in terms of where his shooting efficiency is headed from downtown.

If Hunter can find his shooting stroke from deep with Beard and the Longhorns next season, he’ll really be able to reach the level of superstardom in his sophomore campaign. That would also help to vault his NBA Draft stock much higher than it is now for the 2023 class.

He’s currently projected by most as around a second-round pick if he declares for the 2023 NBA Draft.

3 spring additions ready to shine for Texas next season. dark. Next

Hunter is the second addition out of the transfer portal so far this offseason for the Longhorns. The other came in the form of the former New Mexico State Aggies three-time All-WAC senior shooting guard Jabari Rice.