The first commitment arrived with a bang in the 2023 Texas basketball recruiting class for head coach Chris Beard this weekend in the form of the top target for this cycle. On the morning of Nov. 5, the announcement dropped that the elite five-star Duncanville forward Ron Holland would be committing to Texas over the UCLA Bruins, Arkansas Razorbacks, and Kentucky Wildcats.
This is huge for Beard and the Longhorns to land this commitment from Holland in the 2023 class less than one week before the start of the hoops Early Signing Period. And I would anticipate that Holland puts pen to paper in the next seven or 10 days to officially sign with the Longhorns 2023 class.
So, how did this come to fruition that Beard and the Longhorns staff were able to reel in a commitment from one of the top-10 ranked high school 2023 prospects in the nation in Holland?
The path for Texas to land Ron Holland
It all started when Beard and the Longhorns offered Holland shortly after the former Texas Tech Red Raiders bench boss was hired to replace former Texas head coach Shaka Smart in April 2021. Texas sent an offer to Holland on May 4, 2021. Texas was one of the first major college hoops programs to offer Holland.
And Texas would continue to be a major player in Holland’s recruitment throughout the next 18 months or so.
Beard and assistant coach Rodney Terry did a nice job cultivating the relationship with Holland and his camp throughout the last year and a half. And that came to a head when Texas hosted Holland on his official visit to Austin in late August 2022.
Texas knocked it out of the park in that late summer official visit for Holland to Austin. In fact, that OV made such a big impression on Holland that he returned to Austin a couple more times in the last month or so for unofficial visits.
The last time that Holland visited Austin before announcing his commitment to Texas this weekend was on Oct. 29 when the Longhorns hosted the Razorbacks for a charity game at the shiny new Moody Center. Texas looked good in that preseason charity game, beating a top-25-ranked Arkansas squad by 30 points.
From everything we heard coming out of that visit for Holland during the Texas-Arkansas scrimmage, it sounds like he was extremely impressed with what he saw from the program.
And that was likely one of the factors that helped push Texas over the top to land the commitment from Holland on Nov. 5.
What 5-Star F Ron Holland brings to the table for Texas basketball?
Holland is a huge initial commitment to get into the Longhorns 2023 class.
He is a uber-talented and athletic 6-foot-8 and 195-pound forward that can play multiple positions on the floor. Holland is a natural combo forward that will probably play most of his minutes at the four once he arrives on campus in Austin. But he’s also got the athletic traits to potentially thrive at any position between the two and the four.
Holland’s explosiveness vertically and in terms of his foot speed allows him to defend essentially all positions on the floor, possibly outside of some of the more sizable back-to-the-basket scoring centers.
Moreover, Holland utilizes his insane physical tools and quickness to stand out in multiple ways on both ends of the floor. He is almost the definition of an excellent two-way forward that has NBA-caliber tools.
The aforementioned quickness and agility for Holland translate into effective coverage of all areas of the floor defensively. His size and lateral quickness make him a formidable defender on the perimeter. Holland is also a very effective rebounder given his ability to live above the rim.
And he has a lot of the tools and skills necessary to be one of the most disruptive and switchable defenders in the Big 12.
The length and vertical ability for Holland mean that he can quickly cover ground to get a hand up in the face of the opposing offensive player. But he still is disciplined and more than capable enough physically to keep up with essentially any player off-the-dribble if they try to get inside to the hoop.
When Holland is defending a player inside the arc, he is fundamentally sound and uses his length well. He is able to block shots, get his hand in the passing lane, and disrupt the shooting motion thanks to how active he is as a defender.
The way that Holland embodies these defensive skills and values will translate seamlessly with the tenacious style of defense that Beard’s teams play.
A lot of what Holland does well defensively transfers quite nicely to the offensive end of the floor. The disruptiveness that Holland brings to the table on defense often translates to chances in transition to get quick and easy points.
Even when Holland doesn’t have a clear path to the basket or doesn’t blow by and/or run away from opposing defenders in transition, he’s a capable enough ball-handler to create his own looks.
Holland is a pretty good ball handler, and he’s got underrated court vision, which makes him a pretty lethal playmaker and facilitator. That combination of court vision and ball-handling shows that Holland will be a viable option as a secondary or tertiary ball-handler and facilitator in the settled half-court offense.
Granted, there are times when Holland gets a little overconfident and forces passes and/or tough shots. That will be a point of improvement for Beard and his staff once Holland arrives on campus next year.
Some of the other areas where Holland still needs to improve his game start to show up when you look at his jump shot. Holland has made strides in the last year in terms of confidence in his jump shot and the effectiveness of his pull-up game from the mid-range.
But you would still like to see more efficiency out of Holland’s stroke from deep.
There is long-term potential with his jump shot from the mid-range and from three-point land, though. His fundamentals are getting better. And it seems with increased confidence in his pull-up game comes more rhythm and effectiveness.
If Holland can become at least a decent shooter from deep and continue to improve his mid-range jump shot, that would make him a true top-five or top-10 NBA prospect.
To sum this up, Holland has a lot of the tools necessary to become a sure-fire NBA Draft Lottery-caliber prospect. He’s got that rare combination of a high motor on both ends of the floor with elite physical tools. With a high rate of improvement in some of the more questionable areas of his game, such as his jump shot and decision-making with the ball in his hands, Holland is bound to be special for the Longhorns and have a bright future ahead in the NBA.
Apt comparisons for Holland
There’s no precise comparison that I see in Holland quite yet. He’s pretty unique in the sense that he’s already a highly proficient and versatile defender on and off the ball that just needs to show more confidence and better decision-making in certain areas of his offensive game.
The comparison that comes to mind for me is a combination of Toronto Raptors forward Scottie Barnes for his elite physical traits and defensive prowess along with Dallas Mavericks wing/forward Dorian Finney-Smith for his two-way versatility and undervalued offensive skills. Barnes boasted a lot of the same strengths that Holland does as a high school player (high motor, competitiveness, elite athleticism, etc.).
And DFS was someone that had to develop a solid jump shot, but was often overlooked for his court vision and finishing within eight or 10 feet from the rim (more specifically getting to the basket and finishing through contact).
If Holland can continue to show more confidence and efficiency in his pull-up game, there will definitely be some valid similarities with DFS’s game.
It’s clear to see that Texas is getting a truly special playmaker in Holland that could eventually become a do-it-all forward that impacts the team on both ends of the floor.
Landing this commitment from Holland could also serve as a launch point for the Longhorns 2023 class to reel in another blue-chip or to before the end of the signing period later this month. Holland is the type of recruit that could attract someone of the caliber of five-star wing Andrej Stojakovic and/or five-star guard AJ Johnson to join him in the Longhorns 2023 class.
With Holland now committed to the Longhorns 2023 class, Texas has the foundational piece that’s needed for Beard and his staff for this recruiting cycle. More could be to come in the near future in the Longhorns 2023 class if Beard and his staff can also reel in an elite recruit such as Donda Academy’s Johnson or Carmichael Jesuit’s Stojakovic.
According to the 247Sports Team Composite Rankings, the 2023 Texas recruiting class now ranks at No. 49 in the nation and eighth in the Big 12.