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Five questions ahead of Texas' Orange-White Scrimmage

Joe Cookby:Joe Cook10/17/23


Rodney Terry‘s first season as full-time head coach of the Longhorns unofficially begins Tuesday night at 6 p.m. in Gregory Gym. The Texas men’s basketball program will host the annual Orange-White Scrimmage, with details available at this link.

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Ahead of the action, here are five questions the Longhorns look to answer tonight and in the preseason.

What does Dillon Mitchell‘s offensive game look like?: The former five-star returns for his second season at Texas, a development few involved likely anticipated this time last year. Mitchell showcased high-level explosiveness and hustle while starting every game in 2022-23, but his offensive output was limited. That was due in part to being the fifth or sixth offensive option on a veteran team, and also due to some of his own limitations.

This year, he’s the veteran presence and he’ll be working to showcase more offensive acumen to help bring balance to a Longhorn lineup with plenty of scoring in the backcourt. There were glimpses of quality midrange play last season that will need to be more evident this year.

How does Max Abmas‘ skill set translate to Texas? During preseason interviews, Abmas downplayed the idea that he’ll have a lighter burden due to being surrounded by better talent at Texas compared to Oral Roberts. While his support for the program he led to multiple NCAA Tournament appearances and the 2021 Sweet Sixteen is admirable, it’s undeniable he’ll be paired with better players such as Tyrese Hunter. He’ll also be facing better competition on a game-by-game basis than what the Summit League offered.

Abmas has averaged 20.8 points per game and scored 2561 points in his career. He’s going to be asked to shoulder a lot of the perimeter shooting responsibilities. He’ll likely end up being the leading scorer, and that combined with his ability to distribute will say a lot about the quality of the Longhorn offense.

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How will Ze’Rik Onyema handle increased early-season responsibilities? With Kadin Shedrick inching closer to 100 percent, and Dylan Disu doing the same with more distance to cover, Oneyma will bear a lot of responsibilities in the post at the beginning of the year. He lacks the height of Shedrick and Disu, but according to the roster carries the most weight at 235 pounds. His efforts until Texas’ main frontcourt duo is back up to speed will be crucial in the few non-conference tests the Longhorns have on their schedule.

Transfers? Abmas, Onyema, Shedrick, Chendall Weaver, and Ithiel Horton all will be making their public debut as Longhorns, though they are no rookies when it comes to college basketball.

This scrimmage format won’t indicate a whole lot about minute distribution, but it should reveal how well the newcomers to Texas have jelled with the Longhorn vets as well as the newcomers to college basketball. How do Weaver and Horton interact with Abmas and Hunter? Will Abmas and Weaver be able to find Horton and Brock Cunningham at their shooting spots? Can they successfully throw lobs to some of Texas’ dunkers? Chemistry will be something to monitor, but as mentioned, the soft preseason schedule will help Texas build that early.

Freshmen? The transfer portal helps teams get old and stay old, but so too does having players like Cunningham back for his sixth season in the program (for his third head coach!). The Longhorns added a number of impact transfers to the roster, so freshmen Chris Johnson and Devon Pryor will have a number of experienced players to top for playing time.

Johnson will likely collect some minutes this year, while Pryor is a redshirt candidate. How those two play in their early opportunity in Gregory Gym will be a sneak preview of the future.

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