Newly-hired full-time head coach Rodney Terry and Texas basketball picked up yet another impactful addition via the NCAA Transfer Portal to add to the 2023 class on May 4. Texas actually landed two portal commitments on the evening of May 4, from the former UT-Arlington Mavericks freshman guard Chendall Weaver and UTEP Miners junior power forward Ze’Rik Onyema.
We already talked about the impact that the addition of Onyema could have on Terry and the Longhorns heading into next season in a piece on May 4.
Now, we’re going to take a look at what Weaver brings to the table for the Longhorns and how he ended up committing to Texas in the first place.
The 6-foot-3 and 165-pound Weaver committed to Texas on May 4 over other top schools that were pursuing him in the portal such as the Texas A&M Aggies and Texas Tech Red Raiders. He visited Texas Tech and Texas A&M prior to making the official visit to Texas earlier this week.
Terry and the Longhorns were able to sell Weaver on his ability to make an impact on the program right away as a playmaking and shot-making two-guard and/or wing that could compete for a starting spot ahead of next season. Texas made the right impression during Weaver’s visit to the 40 a couple of days ago, opening the door to securing his commitment ahead of the weekend.
Weaver was one of the top portal priorities at this point of the offseason for Terry and the Longhorns staff. He caught the eye of the Texas coaches almost as soon as his name surfaced in the transfer portal last month.
He is the type of young sharpshooting two-guard/wing that is rare to find in the portal, especially considering he has three years of eligibility remaining.
Weaver was solid during his true freshman campaign last season for UTA. He averaged 9.5 points per game, 4.6 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 0.9 steals, and 0.4 blocks while shooting 44.2 percent from the field, 40.2 percent from beyond the arc, and 70.2 percent from the free-throw line.
The insane shooting efficiency and otherwise solid numbers that Weaver posted at UTA last season were good enough to earn him WAC Freshman of the Year honors.
It’s also worth noting that Weaver joined rare company at UTA in terms of his shooting efficiency as a true freshman. According to Sports Reference, Weaver became just the second true freshman in the history of the UTA men’s hoops program (at least since it was Division I) to shoot better than 40 percent from beyond the arc on at least two attempts per game.
How the addition of UTA transfer G Chendall Weaver impacts Texas basketball
We’ve already mentioned a few of the more common talking points concerning Weaver’s game. It’s clear that he was a solid emerging two-way shooting guard that could splash shots from all over the floor in the offensive halfcourt.
So, how will Weaver’s game impact the Longhorns next season and in future years to come?
The most obvious consideration when thinking about how Weaver’s skill set impacts the Longhorns is the floor spacing he brings. Texas lacked an abundance of true catch-and-shoot threats in the backcourt/wing rotation last season.
In general, Texas was a pretty mediocre three-point shooting team last season. Texas ranked 156th in the country last eason, shooting 34.7 percent from deep.
Senior guards Marcus Carr and Sir’Jabari Rice were the only consistent three-point threats in Texas’ backcourt unit last season. And given that Carr was often the primary initiator for the Longhorns, Rice was the only legitimate off-ball catch-and-shoot threat from deep.
Texas also has senior forward Brock Cunningham, who was a very efficient catch-and-shoot option from deep last season. With Cunningham returning next season, the combination of him and Weaver could be pretty lethal floor spacing for the Texas offense.
Moreover, where Weaver truly thrives as a catch-and-shoot threat is from the corners. Weaver shot better than 47 percent on corner three-point attempts last season. And given that almost every single one of his three-point field goals last season was assisted, it’s safe to say that he’s going to be a lethal corner three-point threat for Texas for the foreseeable future.
Thinking about just how good of a three-point shooter Texas is getting in Weaver is really exciting. Weaver was one of just three freshman guards in the country last season to shoot better than 45 percent on corner three-pointers, 45 percent on two-point field goal attempts, and 40 percent on all attempts from beyond the arc.
If there is one area where Weaver needs to improve his three-point shooting, it is from above the break. He is clearly more comfortable shooting from the corners, specifically from the left corner, where he shot better than 58 percent from deep.
On 28 above-the-break three-point attempts last season, Weaver made just seven of them.
Terry and the Longhorns should limit Weaver’s above-the-break attempts, even on open catch-and-shoot looks, until he becomes more comfortable and confident from that spot. Texas also has other capable above-the-break shooters from deep, in Cunningham and fellow transfer g addition Max Abmas that can help space the floor outside of the corners.
Other areas where Weaver shines as a playmaker on offense
I’ve talked an awful lot about Weaver’s capabilities as a shot-maker from deep especially from the corners. But there are other areas where Weaver shines on the offensive end of the floor.
He really is a true playmaker that can get it done as a secondary or tertiary facilitator, he’s not just limited to filling the role of a catch-and-shoot threat from the corners. Weaver has underrated court vision and ball handling, which allows him to threaten opposing defenses with his playmaking skills in multiple ways and from multiple levels of the floor.
Weaver registered an assist percentage of around 14.0 last season, which ranked in the 60th percentile among two-guards in the NCAA. What was most impressive, though, about Weaver’s ball-handling and facilitating abilities last season was how he took care of the basketball in an efficient manner.
Unforced errors and untimely turnovers were rare for Weaver at UTA. He posted a turnover percentage of just 12.1 and an assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.70 (both good for the 75th percentile or higher in the WAC).
I also like Weaver’s ability as a shot-creator to draw contact inside the arc and get to the free-throw line. Something that shouldn’t be ignored among Weaver’s advanced stats from last season was his free-throw attempt rate, which was just shy of 45 percent.
Weaver was really good at driving inside the arc and drawing contact to get to the charity stripe. In fact, he was fouled on more than 24 percent of his two-point field goal attempts last season (78th percentile in the WAC) and he averaged 0.4 And 1s per game (91st percentile).
These were impressive feats that he was able to finish through contact so frequently and effectively given that Weaver is just shy of 170 pounds. If Weaver can hit the weight room hard this offseason and put on 10 or 15 more pounds, just think about what he could do in terms of finishing through contact as a sophomore at Texas.
One qualm I do have with Weaver’s free-throw line tendencies is that he needs to be more efficient from the stripe. He shot just 70.3 percent from the charity stripe last season, which is way too inefficient for a shooter of his caliber.
Last but not least, Weaver should be a player that helps Texas run in transition. Weaver is an underrated athlete that has excellent length, which will allow the Longhorns to have another perimeter/wing defender that can disrupt passes and then get out and run to get easy buckets in transition.
Weaver’s defensive impact
Weaver was a slightly above-average defender at UTA last season. He posted a decent 0.3 defensive box plus/minus and a 103.1 defensive rating. At least the defensive box plus/minus ranked third on the team among the core rotation players for UTA during the 2022-23 campaign.
I do believe there is a lot of untapped defensive potential in Weaver’s game, though. He’s too good of a player off-ball on both ends of the floor and has too many physical gifts to just be an average perimeter defender at Texas.
Weaver did improve his defensive game as last season progressed, averaging better than one steal per game and 0.5 blocks in the final 10 games. He also posted a Hakeem percentage (steal and block percentage combined) of 3.0 percent, which ranked among the top 10 guards in the WAC.
A key to Weaver continuing to improve his defensive game will be working on his timing on closeouts and adding more muscle mass to his frame. Weaver got caught on switches at times last season, leading to easy three-pointers and mid-range twos for opposing guards/wings. He also would get bullied against some of the more physical guards and wings in the WAC when he was within 10 or 12 feet of the basket.
The worst for Weaver on the defensive end was in post-up matchups. He allowed more than 1.2 points per possession in post-ups last season, good for just the 7th percentile among players at his position.
Adding more weight to his frame will allow Weaver to become a more formidable defender closer to the paint.
How Weaver fits at Texas
There could be some contention regarding where Weaver fits exactly in the backcourt/wing rotation heading into next season. If sophomore guard Tyrese Hunter winds up withdrawing from the 2023 NBA Draft, then we could see a bit of a logjam at the two-guard spot.
Assuming Hunter does return next season (based on the current projected roster), I think the best fit for Weaver would be starting at the three. Despite the lack of size in a hypothetical three-guard lineup between Abmas, Hunter, and Weaver, Texas has more than enough length in the projected starting frontcourt to make up on the defensive end.
- PG: Max Abmas
- SG: Tyrese Hunter
- Wing: Chendall Weaver
- PF: Dylan Disu
- C: Kadin Shedrick
It should be mentioned that the four best four-man combinations involving Weaver at UTA last season all involved three guards or two guards and one true wing (per CBB Analytics), so running a three-guard lineup at Texas should work fine.
And for those concerned with the lack of length that Texas would have on the offensive end with Weaver playing on the wing, there are some stats that should put those doubts to bed.
I already touched on Weaver’s ability to get to the rim and finish through contact, which occasionally came in match-ups against wings 6-foot-5 or taller. Weaver’s above-average vertical ability, quickness, and lofty wingspan allowed him to finish through contact above even those defenders taller than him.
In terms of Weaver’s ability to make tough shots from deep, there shouldn’t be any questioning of his effectiveness. Weaver led all WAC shooting guards last season in three-point shooting percentage on guarded catch-and-shoot looks.
All in all, I really like what Texas is building here with the potential for three efficient shot-makers that are all quality playmakers and facilitators starting in the backcourt between Abmas, Hunter, and Weaver. Texas will also have plenty of floor spacing in the mix as this could be one of the best three-point shooting teams in recent memory for the Longhorns.
In fact, this Texas team is set to have multiple players on the roster heading into the 2023-24 season that shot better than 40 percent in college the prior year (Cunningham and Weaver). This is the first time that has happened for the Longhorns since 2008-09.
I love the addition of Weaver via the transfer portal for the Longhorns. At this point, the biggest remaining need for Terry and the Longhorns to get near the finish line in terms of rebuilding the roster this offseason is adding a quality wing with some proven experience and more length (i.e. 6-foot-5 or taller).