Texas Basketball: Tyrese Hunter advanced analytical deep dive

Tyrese Hunter, Texas basketball. Mandatory Credit: Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports
Tyrese Hunter, Texas basketball. Mandatory Credit: Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports /
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Tyrese Hunter, Texas basketball
Tyrese Hunter, Texas basketball. Mandatory Credit: Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports /

The start of the 2023-24 Texas basketball season is less than one month away. With Texas men’s hoops soon tipping off the 2023-24 regular season, we’re diving deep into the analytics for the dozen or so scholarship players on the roster for this campaign.

New full-time head coach Rodney Terry and the Longhorns have many new faces on the roster heading into the 2023-24 season. Over half of last season’s roster turned over during the 2023 offseason.

This feels like a good time to dive deep into the new and returning players on the roster to get a better idea of the team heading into a 2023-24 campaign with high expectations for the Longhorns.

Starting us off for this advanced analytical deep dive series is one of the familiar faces returning to the Longhorns this season, junior guard Tyrese Hunter. The former Iowa State transfer is in his second year at Texas after joining the Longhorns via the portal last offseason.

Junior G Tyrese Hunter returns to Texas basketball with high expectations for the 2023-24 season

Hunter was a big-time guard for the Longhorns Big 12 foe, Iowa State, during his true freshman campaign in 2021-22. He earned Big 12 Newcomer of the Year honors for the 2021-22 season after a stellar freshman campaign at Iowa State, where he averaged 11 points per game, four rebounds, five assists, and two steals while leading the Cyclones to the Sweet 16.

While Hunter’s numbers weren’t as impressive during his first year at Texas last season as they were as a freshman at Iowa State, he did come on strong late in the campaign. Here’s an analytical deep dive for Hunter to see what possibly caused the regression in efficiency and where his game is headed in his junior campaign this upcoming season.

High-level advanced metrics

Box score stats, while important, can often be misleading in college hoops. While a player that averages 20 points per game, five rebounds, and five assists might look impressive on paper, there could be inefficiencies in their game that are detrimental to the team.

Advanced metrics dig deeper, find where a player is most efficient, and better examine how a player has impacted their team’s efforts to win on both ends of the floor.

In Hunter’s case, he averaged 10.3 points per game, three rebounds, 2.5 assists, 0.8 steals, and 0.2 blocks while shooting 39.4 percent from the field and 33.7 percent from deep last season. Since Hunter produced around an average on defense, didn’t turn the ball over too much, and had an average usage rate, his box score stats do a decent job of hinting at his advanced metrics’ strength.

Where Hunter did the most damage to his overall efficiency and advanced metrics was in a down stretch from December through mid-to-late January. According to Sports Reference, Hunter registered the worst game score and lowest field goal percentage of all Texas starters during that span of the 2022-23 regular season.

The all-encompassing advanced metrics commonly accepted as the best tellers of how a player’s efficiency impacts a team’s performance and their shot at winning are player efficiency rating, box plus/minus, and win shares.

Player efficiency rating is a metric developed by John Hollinger a few decades ago that attempts to measure a player’s contributions in an all-in-one stat.

Box plus/minus is a regression stat that measures a player’s efficiency and overall contributions to the team based on box score stats and compared to the league average.

Lastly, win shares is another way of looking at how a player’s contributions impacted winning for their team from their numbers on both ends of the floor. Win shares are broken down by estimated wins contributed per 40 minutes, in total, on offense and defense.

We can look at other advanced metrics for this analysis of Hunter’s game (such as Evan Miya and Bart Torvik), but we’ll keep it high-level with these three.

Player efficiency rating: 11.7 (12.4 in Big 12 play)

Hunter’s struggles for much of the 2022-23 regular season caused him to register the lowest player efficiency rating on the team among players with at least 100 minutes played. He improved slightly in Big 12 play, with a 12.4 player efficiency rating that was second-lowest among Texas’ starters (freshman forward Dillon Mitchell being last at 11.1).

Since a 15.0 player efficiency rating represents the “league average”, Hunter can be viewed as a below-average player throughout the 2022-23 season and in Big 12 play.

Hunter’s player efficiency rating also regressed year-over-year from his freshman to sophomore campaign. He posted a 14.1 player efficiency during his freshman campaign at Iowa State.

Considering that true freshmen are often posting the worst player efficiency ratings in college hoops since they haven’t fully developed their game and found their role on their team, Hunter’s year-over-year regression was unexpected, to say the least.

Part of this could be due to Hunter having to adjust to multiple new systems in the same system after transferring from Iowa State last season. Former Texas head coach Chris Beard’s system was what Hunter had to adjust to in his first season as a Longhorn last year. After Beard was fired amid the 2022-23 campaign, Hunter was forced to adjust to another new system under Terry.

Hunter did find his rhythm late last season, averaging around a dozen points per game while above 37 percent from deep in February and March. It looked like Hunter was much more comfortable after he had a couple of months to settle into Terry’s new offense, where he mostly played off-ball as a sort of combo guard alongside senior point guard Marcus Carr.

Box plus/minus: 3.0

Box plus/minus is another advanced metric that paints the picture that Hunter was one of the least efficient players for the Longhorns last season. Hunter’s 3.0 box plus/minus was a regression from the 4.8 box plus/minus he posted as a true freshman at Iowa State.

He ranked last on the team in box plus/minus among players who played at least 100 minutes last season.

Win shares: 2.7/.094 per 40 (0.8 in Big 12 play/.058 per 40)

Since Hunter played the second-most total minutes for the Longhorns last season, with 1,150, he posted a respectable number of total win shares. Hunter ranked in the middle of the pack for the Longhorns last season in total win shares, nearing three.

When you break it down to win shares per 40 minutes, though, Hunter ranks last on the team. And since the Big 12 was so deep last season, Hunter’s win shares per 40 was even worse. He ranked last among the starters in win shares per 40 in conference play last season.