With Chris Beard out, what’s next for Texas men’s basketball?
How incumbent Texas head coach Rodney Terry and the Longhorns navigate the remainder of the 2022-23 season following the firing of Chris Beard will determine where the program goes, including whether its two five-man commitments remain. star. (David Buono/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
When Texas hired Chris Beard in April 2021, it was thought to be a home run hire for the Longhorns. He was returning to Austin after graduating from Texas in 1995 and even managed the team his senior year. Beard assembled a dream team of assistants and went to work, recruiting some of the best high school players in the country and landing key transfers like Timmy Allen, Marcus Carr and Tyrese Hunter.
This was the season when everything was coming together on the field. The Longhorns beat Arkansas by 30 points in an exhibition game in October, and a month into the season, Texas was the No. 2 ranked in the country.
On December 12, Beard was arrested on a third-degree felony charge of domestic violence after an alleged altercation with his fiancee. The school announced Thursday that it was parting ways with Beard, citing “unacceptable conduct that makes him unfit to serve as a coach at our university.”
The team has continued to play with associate coach Rodney Terry, who will remain as acting coach. Terry has 10 years of coaching experience, previously at Fresno State and UTEP before joining Beard’s staff in 2021. The Longhorns are currently 5-1 under Terry and are the No. 6 in place. After a bad home loss to Kansas State on Tuesday night, the Longhorns could fall out of the top 10.
The lingering question is: Where does Texas go from here?
Coaching prospects for Texas next season
Terry will be out for the season, but there are already a handful of names being tossed around as possible replacements for Beard next season. Texas is a coveted job for most coaches with its location, access to football money and the new state-of-the-art, $375 million Moody Center that opened this season.
Arkansas head coach Eric Musselman is in his fourth season and has already led the Hogs to two Elite Eights. He recently signed a long-term extension but could be persuaded to take a job in a bigger market.
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Dennis Gates is in his first season at Missouri and has made a strong statement beating Kentucky and Illinois recently and getting the Tigers back into the Top 25. He is one of the hottest names in college basketball right now.
Former Longhorn and current Brooklyn Nets coach Royal Ivey played 10 years in the NBA and also served as an assistant coach for the Oklahoma City Thunder and New York Knicks. He has close ties to the program and is one of the only former players favored to receive an interview.
Terry will also be considered for the permanent coaching position and already has existing relationships with the players and staff.
How will it affect recruits?
On the recruiting side, Texas currently has two five-star commitments in 6-foot-8 forward Ron Holland and 6-5 combo guard AJ Johnson. Both players have recently shown their support for Terry and the team. Johnson tweeted Tuesday, “Love what Coach Terry and my guys in Austin are doing. Keep it up! Can’t wait to get on the 40 acres.” Holland posted a similar tweet saying, “Nice to see coach Terry and the guys keep doing it in Austin. I’m hooked!”
After Beard’s firing, Holland’s mother, Tarasha, said, “At this time Ron remains committed to the Longhorn Nation as we continue to closely monitor the circumstances surrounding the program.”
Who the head coach is has a lot to do with a player’s decision to commit to a university, especially a Power 5 program. Both Holland and Johnson will undoubtedly weigh their options and a decision to stay or leave. Texas probably won’t happen until late in the season.
Before Johnson committed to Texas in late November, he had visited LSU and had strong interest from Kansas, Louisville, USC and Arizona State. Holland chose the Longhorns over Arkansas, Kentucky, Memphis and UCLA.
Terry is an excellent recruiter and has been instrumental in bringing in top former players over the past two seasons. Texas will do everything it can to keep the commitments from the two five-star prospects, but it will be an uphill battle until a new head coach is named.
The Longhorns are off to a rough start to the new year and have a tough schedule in the coming weeks in a very competitive Big 12 conference. If Terry can get the most out of the players to close out the season and make an NCAA tournament , will be a smooth transition for Texas on the field after an abrupt end to the Beards era.