Texas led all states with seven programs in the 2023 NCAA Tournament’s 68-team field. But after one week of frenetic action, only Texas and Houston’s National Championship hopes remain alive. While a majority of former Texas High School Basketball stars have been eliminated from March Madness along with their respective Lone Star teams, there are still some notable alumni competing for a spot in Houston. These are the five best former Texas High School Basketball Players to watch in the Sweet 16.
F Drew Timme, Gonzaga, J.J. Pearce High School
Drew Timme is not only the most dominant Texas high school alum on this list, he’s arguably the best player remaining in the NCAA Tournament field. The senior forward and three-time All-American pushed No.3-seed Gonzaga to their eighth-straight Sweet 16 appearance with 28 points and eight rebounds in an 84-81 win over TCU in the Round of 32. And if a revenge win against an athletic and rangy Big 12 team (Baylor spoiled Gonzaga’s perfect season in the 2021 National Championship) wasn’t enough, Timme joined elite individual company, becoming the second player to score 20 or more points in nine different tournament games. Gonzaga is back in action on Thursday against a No.2 seeded UCLA team who still vividly remembers their Final Four loss to the Bulldogs two years ago when Jalen Suggs drilled a half-shot at the buzzer. The Bruins get to focus all their defensive energy on Timme, because unlike the previous two years Gonzaga doesn’t have another NBA Lottery pick like Suggs or Chet Holmgren to pair with him.
F Dylan Disu, Texas, Pflugerville Hendrickson High School
It may have taken three years, but Dylan Disu is starring for his childhood favorite team, No.2-seed Texas, in the NCAA Tournament. After two seasons at Vanderbilt and one year spent getting himself into game shape off a knee injury, the 6-foot-9-inch big man is one of the hottest players in basketball. Disu has averaged 17.8 points and nine rebounds over a five-game span in which the Longhorns earned the Big 12 Tournament Championship and advanced to their first Sweet 16 since 2008. But his best performance in a Texas uniform came in a 71-66 victory over No.10-seed Penn State in the Round of 32. Disu recorded his second consecutive double-double of the tournament with 28 points and 10 rebounds, eight of those points coming on a torrid Texas run to ice the game after the Nittany Lions took a 48-45 lead with 4:48 remaining. When the final horn sounded, Disu had bested Kevin Durant and Lamarcus Aldridge for most field goals in a tournament game, shooting 14-for-20.
G Marcus Sasser, Houston, Red Oak High School
When Marcus Sasser exited No.1-seed Houston’s Round of 64 game against Northern Kentucky after merely 14 minutes due to a reaggravated groin injury, the Cougar faithful feared the AAC Player of the Year could miss the Tournament for the second consecutive year. But the Red Oak product allayed all those worries when he exploded for 22 points in the Cougars’ Second Round victory against No.9-seed Auburn. The Tigers, taking advantage of a home-court atmosphere just two hours away from their campus, held a 41-31 advantage less than a minute into the second half. But the Cougars came alive and showed why they are a Final Four favorite, outscoring Auburn 50-23 the rest of the game for a blowout win. Sasser shot 5-for-9 from three-point range and earned himself a couple extra rest days for his groin before Houston faces No.5-seed Miami on Friday.
G Anthony Black, Arkansas Coppell/Duncanville High School
No.8-seed Arkansas defeating top-seeded Kansas in the Round of 32 on Saturday might’ve been a shocking upset in the moment, but the Razorbacks knew all year they had the talent to make a run. Arkansas entered the year as one of the most intriguing programs, led by NBA lottery pick freshmen Nick Smith Jr. and Anthony Black. But while Smith Jr. missed 19 games with an injury and sophomore center Trevon Brazile was lost for the season with a torn ACL, Black provided a steady presence to keep their Tournament hopes alive. The 6-foot-7-inch combo guard averaged 12.6 points, 5.1 rebounds and 4 assists a game and played himself into a fringe top 10 Draft selection. While he’s been shaky on the offensive end this Tournament, Black’s perimeter defense has propelled an Arkansas team looking to reach their third consecutive Elite Eight. In the Round of 64, he recorded three steals primarily guarding Illinois’s Terrence Shannon Jr. Then he locked up Kansas’s Gradey Dick to merely seven points in the upset victory.
G Sir’ Jabari Rice, Texas, Fort Bend Marshall High School
Six years ago, Sir’ Jabari Rice led Fort Bend Marshall to the Class 5A State Championship as an All-State selection. Now, he’s the Big 12 Sixth Man of the Year for Texas after averaging 12.9 points, 3.6 rebounds, two assists and roughly eight pump fakes a game. The New Mexico State transfer couldn’t have enjoyed a more prolific NCAA Tournament debut in the burnt orange, shooting 7-for-10 from the 3-point line in Texas’s blowout win against No.15-seed Colgate. He followed up his career day from beyond the arc with a solid 13 points against Penn State in the Round of 32. And in his sixth season of college basketball, Rice blends in perfectly with a Longhorns’ squad that’s the sixth-oldest team in the country.