Texas Basketball: 5 Things to Know Before Big 12 Play

Dillon Mitchell, Texas basketball
Dillon Mitchell, Texas basketball / Mitchell Layton/GettyImages
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Chendall Weaver, Texas basketball
Chendall Weaver, Texas basketball / Maria Lysaker-USA TODAY Sports

4. Which bench guards will step up?

I mentioned earlier the recent connection between the starting backcourt of Max Abmas and Tyrese Hunter. While those two guys are the engine that makes this offense run, there will be times when one is off the court, and Coach Terry needs another guard to step up.

The answer of who this third guard will be was not secured in non-conference play.

Many thought it would be UT Arlington transfer Chendall Weaver. The 2022-23 WAC Freshman of the Year averaged 9.5 points per game last year while shooting over 40 percent from three. Through 13 games as a Longhorn, Weaver is averaging just 4.2 points and has knocked down 5-of-17 three-point attempts.

Weaver is only a sophomore and seems to gain more confidence every time he steps on the floor. I have no doubt he will be a key contributor on the Forty Acres, but will he find enough confidence and rhythm to emerge as the third guard this year? Only time will tell.

Another option for this role is UCF transfer, Ithiel Horton. The sixth-year senior fits more of a 3-and-D wing role but did spend a fair amount of non-conference play in the backcourt next to Abmas or Hunter.

Horton isn’t a pure passer and has never averaged more than 1.6 assists per game in a collegiate season. That said, his shooting prowess can completely cover that. Horton has knocked down 244 three’s in his college career and is shooting 38.8 percent from deep on 49 attempts this season.

True freshman Chris Johnson is the last option to fill the third guard role. The Monteverde Academy product is an elite athlete with a solid feel for the game. He has the ability to break down defenders in isolation and make the right play when he finds his way to the paint.

Unfornutly for the freshman, through the non-con he seemed like the odd-man out of the rotation. Johnson played in ten games, averaging 6.6 minutes in those contests.

There is no obvious answer to the “third guard question.” If I were in Coach Terry’s shoes, I would lean on Weaver as the clear third ball handler and stick with Horton in his wing role. I believe Johnson should be deployed more often to give the team a burst of energy. He’s bound to make some freshman mistakes, but some of his aggression and ability to dissect a defense can offset that.

Ultimately for Texas to be successful in March, one (or more) of these guys must step up.