After locking down the sixth-best recruiting class for the 2017 cycle (according to 247Sports), Texas head basketball coach Shaka Smart is picking up where he left off in regard to his 2018 class.
On Thursday, the Longhorns received a huge commitment from Class of 2018 4-star small forward Gerald Liddell. Maybe Smart was tired of football coach Tom Herman getting all the recruiting glory on campus.
In any event, this is a significant pickup for Smart’s basketball team. This follows last week’s commitment of 4-star small forward Brock Cunningham to Texas.
So Smart has gained some momentum on the recruiting trail.
Liddell announced on Twitter that he will take his talents to Austin.
— GERALD LIDDELL 📈 (@gerald_liddell) August 10, 2017
The Texas native chose the Longhorns over his other finalists — Arizona, Baylor, California, Oregon, SMU and UCLA.
Oftentimes in recruiting, picking a college comes down to fit and Liddell found a perfect one with Smart and in-state power Texas.
Here is more on why Liddell picked the Longhorns from Evan Daniels of Scout.com:
“It just feels like home out there in Austin,” Liddell told Scout.com. “It’s 45 minutes away from my house. My whole family can come and enjoy seeing me play. That was ultimately a big deciding factor.”
“Also, the coaching staff up there, Shaka (Smart) and his staff really get after it for his players,” Liddell added. “He goes to war for his players, just like we are supposed to go to war for him.”
Liddell, a 6-foot-6, 180-pound wing from Cibolo, Texas (Steele High School) is rated as a 4-star recruit, according to 247 Sports. The site ranks him as the No. 40 overall prospect in the 2018 class and the ninth-best small forward in the country. 247Sports also regards Liddell as the second-best basketball player in the Lone Star State.
Liddell is a smooth, graceful athlete who possesses almost every skill a coach wants in a wing forward.
He can run the floor with the best of them and is one of the game’s best finishers. Playing in Smart’s system should allow Liddell to flourish in the full-court game.
Liddell also thrives on defense, with his long arms capable of blocking a lot of shots and disrupting passing lanes. He just has a nose for the ball, is an above-average rebounder for his size and is usually in the middle of every play.
With the addition of Liddell, Texas now has the 40th-best 2018 recruiting class in the country and the fourth best in the Big 12. Considering Texas has one open spot and another if Mohamed Bamba leaves after one season — which most assume he will — expect that ranking to rise.
Liddell fills a big need for Smart, too.
Liddell is a tall, true small forward, which is something Smart really doesn’t have. Most of Smart’s wings are on the smaller size since players such as Eric Davis Jr., Kerwin Roach Jr. and Andrew Jones are listed at 6-5 or shorter.
So this is where Liddell — as well as Cunningham — will come in handy beginning in the 2018-19 season. Regardless, expect Liddell to get immediate playing time — whether as a starter or a key reserve — in his freshmen season.
After breaking down the commitment, Liddell to Texas just makes a lot of sense.
Liddell’s skills will be put to best use under Smart’s run-and-gun system. Staying close to home while playing on a Longhorns team that should challenge for future deep runs in the NCAA Tournament is just icing on the cake.