The Longhorns will get their season underway with the Texas Tip-Off on Thursday evening at Gregory Gym.
The intrasquad matchup will give Texas fans their first look at the 2016-17 Longhorns, most notably the four freshmen that make up the nation’s No. 5 recruiting class, according to 247Sports.
Head coach Shaka Smart appeared on the Longhorn Network’s Texas GameDay on Tuesday and expressed excitement for the team’s first competition of the season.
“We haven’t played a real game yet … but the guys have really battled in practice and gotten a lot better,” Smart said on set. “We have to grow every day, every week, every month … as individual players and as a unit.”
As Smart prepares to begin his second season running the Longhorn program, the expectations are already building. Texas was recently picked to finish No. 3 in the Big 12 in the preseason coaches poll, coming in behind Kansas which is looking for its 13th straight conference championship and West Virginia.
It could be a challenge to reach those expectations with such a young roster, but Smart is confident senior guard Kendal Yancy his most experienced veteran will step up and help the team reach its goals.
“In terms of the guy that probably has done the best job so far of having a consistent level of mindset and effort is probably Kendal Yancy,” Smart said. “I think he’s really setting himself up to have a very big senior season.”
Yancy appeared in 30 games last season with 15 starts and scored an average of three points per game. He’ll likely have more of an impact in his final season at Texas.
The Longhorns also landed a frontcourt transfer in forward Mareik Isom, who will make his debut on Thursday. Isom, an immediately-eligible graduate transfer, played three seasons at the University of Arkansas-Little Rock before coming to Austin. He averaged 5.9 points per game last season and helped the Trojans earn a Sun Belt Conference championship and a trip to the NCAA Tournament Round of 32.
Freshman forward Jarrett Allen will also put on burnt orange for the first time. Allen was named to the Preseason All-Big 12 Honorable Mention team, a roster voted on by conference coaches. The 2016 McDonald’s All-American is expected to fill a big role this season.
“Jarrett is very intelligent,” Smart said in July. “He’s a fast learner — that’s a common trait of really, really good players, they learn fast. He’s got a real competitive streak in him that when that becomes the dominant mode in his mind, he’ll go after it.”
Texas’ scrimmage tips off at 7 p.m. at Gregory Gym. Tickets are free and first-come, first-serve and the game will also air on the Longhorn Network.