Shaka Smart's fortunes at Texas took a significant turn for the better on Friday when five-star prospect Greg Brown announced his intent to play for the Longhorns, giving Smart the second-highest rated commitment of his tenure as coach.
Brown is a 6-foot-9 power forward and the No. 9 rated prospect in the 2020 class, according to 247Sports. He is Texas' only commitment in the 2020 class and was the last uncommitted top-50 player in the class expected to play in college.
Joining the Longhorns always seemed like a natural move for Brown, who played at Vandergrift High School just 13 miles from the UT campus in Austin, Texas. But his decision to go the college route was anything but a foregone conclusion after highly-rated peersand opted in recent weeks to join the G League's new program for top prospects.
There was also stiff competition in the college ranks for Brown, who considered Auburn, Kentucky, Memphis and Michigan in addition to Texas. Brown's commitment comes at a critical juncture for Smart, who is entering his sixth season at Texas with a 90-78 (40-50 Big 12) record and an 0-2 mark in two NCAA Tournament appearances.
With Smart on the hot seat, the Longhorns were headed toward an NCAA Tournament bubble battle with Texas Tech in the quarterfinals of the Big 12 Tournament in March before the season's abrupt cancellation amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Texas Athletic Director Chris Del Contein late March that Smart would return as coach, and there is reason to believe next season's Longhorns squad will be the best Smart has fielded. All five starters are expected back from this season's 19-12 team, and Brown's addition to the roster should make Texas a preseason squad.