Texas Basketball: Tyrese Hunter’s return adds punch to starting backcourt

Tyrese Hunter, Texas basketball. Mandatory Credit: Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports
Tyrese Hunter, Texas basketball. Mandatory Credit: Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports /

As was expected a few weeks ago, we got the word in mid-May regarding the decision of rising junior Texas basketball guard Tyrese Hunter in terms of whether he would stay in the 2023 NBA Draft pool. There is an early June deadline for players to withdraw their names from the NBA Draft if they were able to maintain their collegiate eligibility when they originally declared early.

On May 18, the announcement came that Hunter would be returning to Texas for his junior season. The third-year guard Hunter is withdrawing his name from the 2023 NBA Draft a couple of weeks ahead of the June deadline.

This is obviously huge news for newly-hired full-time head coach Rodney Terry and the Longhorns to get Hunter back for the 2023-24 season. Texas needs more guard depth back in the fold heading into next season, and Hunter was one of the outstanding players we were waiting on a decision from at this point of the offseason.

The other Longhorn that could return to college for another season that declared early for the 2023 NBA Draft is freshman forward Dillon Mitchell. Yet, a report from Mike Finger of the San Antonio Express-News this week mentioned that Mitchell is “leaning toward” staying in the NBA Draft.

Tyrese Hunter announces he will return to Texas basketball for the 2023-24 season

Nonetheless, getting Hunter back for the 2023-24 season is something that will help the Longhorns’ case as the backcourt unit needed more depth and proven experience back in the fold. It will also be nice to have some returning players in the mix heading into next season given the large amount of roster attrition that has taken place this spring on the 40.

With Hunter returning to Texas next season, the backcourt unit looks pretty stacked. There is probably still a spot or two that Terry and the Longhorns could fill via the portal, but the starting backcourt is likely now set.

The assumption is that Hunter will be starting at the two next two the former Oral Roberts standout senior transfer guard Max Abmas. The two-time Summit League Player of the Year Abmas is going to start at the one.

But we’ve already heard in the last couple of weeks about the intentions for both Hunter and Abmas to get some time playing off-ball in the backcourt next season. Here’s what Abmas had to say on that subject in an interview with The Field of 68 last week.

"“The last few years I’ve been really ball dominant, always having the ball in my hands, but to be able to switch it up, play on and off the ball, will be definitely big for my game.”"

Upon the return of Hunter, Texas is up to eight scholarship players (including the four portal commits this offseason) for the 2023-24 season. Here’s what the current projected rotation for next season could look like.

PG: Max Abmas

SG: Tyrese Hunter

Wing: Chendall Weaver OR portal

PF: Dylan Disu

C: Kadin Shedrick

B6: Brock Cunningham

B7: Ze’Rik Onyema

B8: Alex Anamekwe

Texas still has a handful of needs remaining in the portal

Terry and the Longhorns would be wise to address the wing depth need and potentially one more long-term developmental guard in the portal this offseason. Guard and wing depth will be essential to the Longhorns being able to make another deep postseason run next season.

Next. Grading each portal commit so far for Texas. dark

Hunter was solid down the stretch last season for the Longhorns after an up-and-down run in Big 12 play. He averaged 10.3 points per game, three rebounds, and 2.5 assists while shooting 39.4 percent from the field and 33.7 percent from deep in his first year at Texas last season.