The Texas-Oklahoma move to the SEC has been football focused for sure, but there will be basketball impacts as well with a surging program like Texas in the same league with Kentucky.
Texas and Oklahoma have been solid basketball programs in the Big 12, not outstanding consistently, but good enough to be factors. They both operate in a recruiting environment that includes the talent-rich Dallas-North Texas metroplex. Kentucky has mined some top-level players from that area and others in Texas during the John Calipari era.
UK will continue to do so, as it is a top five program in college basketball that has reignited itself on the recruiting trail this spring and summer.
Calipari retooled his coaching staff with the additions of Orlando Antigua and Chin Coleman in the offseason, and they along with Jai Lucas were a significant group presence during the July evaluation periods.
Before that, UK was really busy with the transfer portal, adding experience in the middle, on the wings scoring and in the backcourt at point guard.
TyTy Washington was the 12th 5-star point guard to decide to Calipari during his time at UK when he committed in early May. Washington is expected to be in the starting lineup, and will be likely be sharing time with Shavir Wheeler, who transferred from Georgia.
Kentucky clearly isn’t surrendering anything within the SEC realm, and will continue to be a national force for as long into the future as you’d care to look.
But, once Texas and Oklahoma join the SEC for real, they should be good adds for overall competition on the basketball side of the league.
The timetable for those teams joining the SEC is after the 2025 season, but don’t be surprised at all if they are in much more quickly than that. Calipari is under UK contract until 2029, so he will be coaching against these teams, most likely sooner than later.
As for those opposing coaches, they are comparatively young and are hot commodities in the business.
Chris Beard is 48 and has more than two decades of experience as he will try to continue his ascent on the national stage.
He was hired at Texas in early April after an impressive run at Texas Tech.
Porter Moser took over at Oklahoma after Lon Kruger retired in March. Kruger led Oklahoma to the Final Four in 2016.
Moser was part of a magical 2018 season in leading Loyola to relevancy and a national storyline during its run to the 2018 Final Four.
Loyola also unseated No. 1 seed Illinois in this past NCAA Tournament to end the COVID-19 2021 season.
It will be interesting to see if Moser can work the same magic in a major conference with a behemoth program like Kentucky on top of the mountain.
Texas Tech advanced to the Elite Eight for the first time in program history in 2018 with Beard in charge and returned the following season with a trip to the 2019 national championship game, which included a school-best 31 victories.
Texas Tech posted major wins in the West Regional against Michigan and Gonzaga to reach the 2019 Final Four for the first time in program history. The Red Raiders knocked off Michigan State 61-51 in the national semifinals and took Virginia to overtime in the national championship game before falling 85-77.
After the 2020 tournament was canceled due to COVID-19, the Red Raiders advanced to the 2021 NCAA Tournament second round.
Beard didn’t waste time once he got to Austin, hitting the transfer portal with Calipari-like zeal, getting four players immediately eligible.
One of those was none other than Devin Askew, who didn’t exactly thrive as a UK point guard in the disastrous 2020-21 COVID-19 season.
Dylan Disu also landed at Texas via the transfer portal after a sophomore season at Vanderbilt where he was close to a double-double machine with 15 points, 9.2 rebounds a game, which led the SEC.
Beard picked up a commitment from five-star 2022 guard Arterio Morris recently.
Morris became the first 5-star guard to pick Texas since Andrew Jones in the 2016 class.
That nugget says everything about the difference in stature of Kentucky and Texas basketball programs.
But including the Longhorns and Sooners will add competitive heat to the SEC.