‘He’s acquired a Tasmanian satan type of spirit’: What Texas basketball is including in UCF grad switch Ithiel Horton

Courtesy of Derek Warden of the Black and Gold Barrenet

Texas basketball turned some heads just lately with the addition of College of Central Florida wing Ithiel Horton, as first reported by Joe Tipton of On3. Following a flurry of transfers firstly of Might to reshape the roster, strikes this late within the cycle are remarkable, making Horton’s choice considered one of be aware. 

Horton, who was thrust right into a beginning position in his lone season for the Golden Knights, can be suiting up for his fourth college and presumably hopes to showcase his talents as a scorer in a fashion that can be extra conducive to an actual NBA alternative. The capturing guard solely entered the switch portal in late June after withdrawing from the 2023 NBA Draft within the early entry interval, however was anticipated to be UCF’s most efficient participant with 5 gamers departing from the roster, together with top-10 choose Taylor Hendricks.

Head coach Rodney Terry and his employees, nevertheless, have made it evident that they may depart no stone unturned in establishing the most effective roster potential, taking a swing on the well-traveled grad pupil in addition to touchdown an arguably larger shock in ahead Devon Pryor and guard Chris Johnson. Pryor was beforehand dedicated to LSU for the 2024 class however will reclassify for this yr, and Johnson was flipped from Kansas as a four-star commit on this yr’s class. Horton, who will spend his remaining yr of eligibility on the Forty Acres, figures to have probably the most prompt impression of the trio.

Very similar to the addition of Oral Roberts’ guard Max Abmas, Horton’s position will doubtless scale down significantly as he matches right into a extra full roster. Nonetheless, it’s not exhausting to observe Horton’s play at Central Florida and see it translating out of the gate. 

Kyle Nash, a author and podcaster at SB Nation’s Black and Golden Banneret and The three Level Conversion, can see it, too.

“He’s one of many guys that won’t essentially begin momentum, however he’s definitely somebody that may preserve it going when it seems prefer it’s going to get misplaced,” Nash mentioned. “When a crew goes on a run and it seems like they’re beginning to run out of steam, he appears to search out that the spark to maintain it going.”

Whereas Texas’ beginning lineup and eventual rotation is a little bit of a thriller at this second, it’s straightforward to fit in three surefire starters in rising junior Tyrese Hunter and the aforementioned Abmas within the backcourt alongside fifth-year senior Dylan Disu. Whereas Terry may choose to start out Horton given his expertise, it will imply going very small.

Almost definitely, Horton will perform as a key bench piece for the Longhorns, and will slide into the emptiness left by reigning Massive 12 Sixth Man of the 12 months Sir’Jabari Rice, whose manufacturing off the bench was the distinction in lots of video games for Texas final season. Horton brings shades of Rice’s recreation in his 3-point capturing, robust shotmaking and talent to warmth up in a rush. 

“If he’s coming off the bench like that he can inject recent legs and possibly trigger some turnovers or get some fast buckets that method, that’s a win-win,” Nash mentioned. “When you have a crew that’s not so sick within the center, he can slash to the basket with that recent power. There’s all types of stuff that his power makes compelling.”

Nash talked about that Horton could be streaky, evaluating him to former Knicks guard John Starks. His effectivity took a dip in 2022-23, and his numbers scoring close to the basket have by no means been promising. Nonetheless, Horton’s capability to flourish off the ball as a shooter with a fast launch and pull up from 30 ft, much like Abmas, ought to make him a pivotal piece for a crew shedding over 50 mixed factors per recreation of their departures.

As was the case final yr, Texas’ success will hinge on contributions from the skilled gamers reasonably than standout freshmen – Disu, Abmas, Brock Cunningham, even Tyrese Hunter in that mildew – and Horton will match proper in as a man who’s seen the highs and the lows in three totally different applications. Whereas he’ll have good nights and dangerous nights, little doubt, he’ll carry a tenacity that no different participant on the roster in the meanwhile appears to boast.

“He’s acquired a Tasmanian satan type of spirit to his recreation and what he does,” Nash mentioned. “He’s acquired a motor that places him all around the ground each time he’s on the market, he’s continuously transferring, he’s continuously chasing.”