Texas’ Beard dives in, makes splash in transfer portal

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Chris Beard didn’t sound like a “trust the process” guy when he became the Texas basketball coach in early April.

Beard vowed to steer Texas quickly in the direction he envisioned by using the NCAA’s transfer portal.

“We’re not messing around,” Beard said.

Apparently not. While Beard’s first Longhorns roster includes holdover starting guards Andrew Jones and Courtney Ramey and highly regarded high school recruit Jaylon Tyson, the coach diligently worked the portal with immediate success.

Beard signed seven transfers who combined to score 89 points a game last season. Three are all-conference players ranked among the top 10 in the portal by watchstadium.com and CBS, outlets that track recruiting: guard Marcus Carr (Minnesota) and forwards Tre Mitchell (Massachusetts) and Timmy Allen (Utah). Carr is regarded as the No. 1 player in the portal.

Also among the haul: forward Dylan Disu, who led the Southeastern Conference in rebounding at Vanderbilt last season; forward Christian Bishop, a starter at Creighton; guard Devin Askew, a starter at Kentucky; and guard Avery Benson, a reserve for Beard at Texas Tech.

Beard said he was not surprised that he navigated the portal so adeptly.

“That’s why I took the job,” Beard said Wednesday. “The brand is real. There was some confidence coming in that we could put a (talented) team together. We got about four screens that are on the portal, you know, all day long, and guys pop, you scramble and you start making calls.”

Beard, a 1995 Texas graduate, started coaching as a student assistant under Tom Penders. After several post-college stops, including one as an assistant to Bob Knight at Texas Tech, Beard landed back in Lubbock as head coach in 2016.

Results came fast. Tech finished 27-10 in his second season, reaching the NCAA Tournament Elite Eight. A year later, Tech lost the 2019 championship game to Virginia in overtime, concluding a 31-7 season.

Texas, meanwhile, has not been to the Sweet 16 since 2008. The Longhorns were invited to the tournament three times in six seasons under Shaka Smart (the 2020 event was canceled, so he had five chances) but failed to win a game.

After gaining some momentum by winning the 2021 Big 12 tournament, the Longhorns were upset by Abilene Christian 53-52 in the first round of the NCAAs.

Exit Smart, who bolted for Marquette. Enter Beard, with a seven-year, $35 million contract.

Beard said he tries to recruit the best players in the world, including high school seniors, and “stay old” by adding veterans.

His Final Four team at Texas Tech included two starters who were graduate transfers.

Beginning with the 2021-22 season, the NCAA will allow players who have not graduated to transfer one time without requiring that they sit out for a season to re-establish eligibility. An NCAA waiver was necessary to do that in the past.

“You’re never gonna hear me sitting up here saying ‘in two years, we’re gonna be really good,’ ” Beard said. “That’s not quite how it works. That’s not how my boss (Chris Del Conte) works, either, and I understand. I love that kind of expectation.”