Sorry, I just needed to let that out.
I'm sure many UTSA fans had the same reaction as myself when they saw that 6-foot-4, 185lb guard Cason Wallace, who is perhaps the best two way player in his class, has listed UTSA in his top four. UTSA surprised everyone (including themselves I suspect) and finds themselves amongst great company on a list that includes Kentucky, Tennessee, and Texas(Horns Down). This news comes weeks after Wallace had seemingly already decided on his top 3 schools which originally did not include UTSA. The Roadrunners beat out notable schools such as Oklahoma, Texas Tech, Texas A&M, Kansas, and reigning national champs Baylor, who all offered Wallace.
So how exactly has Steven Henson and crew found themselves on the short list of a consensus 5-star recruit and the ESPN No. 9 ranked player in the 2022 class? Here's everything we know so far.
Kentucky is the heavy favorite to land Wallace with Tennessee being second. Wallace completed an official visit to Lexington which reportedly went very well and had both parties impressed. Should Wallace commit to Kentucky he would be uniting with his cousin and current Wildcat freshman, Daimion Collins.
Wallace has two more scheduled official visits, Texas(Sept.4), and Tennessee(Sept.14).
Chris Beard and the Longhorns, who are not believed to be Wallace's top choice, will be looking to gain ground on Kentucky and Tennessee in the Wallace sweepstakes. A Cason Wallace signing would be pivotal for Texas' first year head coach and would provide his team and staff with substantial momentum to begin his Longhorn tenure.
Meanwhile, Tennessee, who it appears has the highest chance of overcoming Kentucky's prestige and allure, will look to beat out their SEC foe and make a final push in their second visit with Wallace. Rick Barnes and the Vol's have proven that they can land five-star recruits having landed four in their past three recruiting classes: Josiah-Jordan James, Keon Johnson, Jaden Springer and Kennedy Chandler. The Vols will undoubtedly pull out all the stops to add Cason Wallace to their aforementioned list of five-star commits.
So where does this leave Steven Henson's Roadrunners?
As previously stated, it was reported weeks before Wednesdays announcement that Cason Wallace had narrowed his decision down to three teams (Kentucky, Tennessee, and Texas (Horns Down). Not only did the Runners manage to surprise everyone to be included in Wallaces top four, they did so without having even scheduled or had an official visit with him.
In a tweet from Wednesday, UTSA beat writer Greg Luca perhaps summed up Cason Wallace's decision to include UTSA in his top 4 best.
Wallace's decision to include UTSA in his top four undoubtedly stems from the programs relationship with his older brother and UTSA MBB legend Keaton Wallace. Keaton spent the last four years with Steven Henson breaking school records as one half of the Roadrunners explosive backcourt dynamic duo which included Jhivvan Jackson.
Not many details have been reported about UTSA's relationship with and recruitment of Wallace, leaving UTSA fans to speculate on just how the Runners came to find themselves in their current position and what their chances are of landing the consensus five-star recruit. However the Bird Podcast's previous interview with Keaton Wallace can perhaps help provide a little insight on how all of this came to be.
When asked about his recruitment and decision to attend UTSA Keaton had this to say:
"UTSA, they were the most trustworthy y'know. They really believed in me. I wasn't really that big of a player when I was in high school. I got here, gained some weight, gained some strength, gained some knowledge and skills and they really developed my game. Everything that they said they were going to do for me is all happening. I wouldn't want to be anywhere else. That was a big thing for me. The coaches were trustworthy, it wasn't like they were just painting this picture that was so extravagant and then when I got here and everything just fell apart. It wasn't like that. Thats what, especially the higher recruited guys, they go through things like that. Going to bigger schools, they look at the name that's on the shirt instead of the opportunity that's at hand. That's how I looked at it. It looked like a big opportunity. I knew the guys that were coming in and we got together and we said we're gonna really turn this program around."
Steve Hensons players first mentality, along with a culture built on trust and investment in his players development is proving to pay dividends for his program as Keaton's experience with UTSA and Steve Hensons staff seems to have had a profound enough impact on Cason Wallace for him to include the Runners in his top four. As Keaton stated, It's about "the opportunity that's at hand". UTSA may not be the college basketball blue blood that Kentucky is, have the history that Texas has, or the prestige of the SEC like Tennessee, but UTSA can perhaps provide a greater opportunity than any of those programs can. At UTSA, Wallace will be provided a spotlight those other schools can't give him. Cason would be THE guy on a Roadrunner roster. He would have the ability to thrive and showcase his complete skillset without having to compete with other 4 and 5-star recruits all while still having enough talent around him to compete with the best. Cason would also be able to stay in Texas and near family. Not to mention, being the star of UTSA's Basketball program and being in the seventh largest city in the nation, Wallace would be poised to greatly benefit from the NCAA's new NIL laws. A tantalizing prospect that no doubt helps UTSA's bid.
While the chances of landing Cason Wallace don't appear to be in UTSA's favor, Steve Hensons squad has proven that they are no strangers to beating the odds. However, no matter what Wallace decides, UTSA has already won. To be included in Wallace's top 4 and listed next to those other schools is a W for the Roadrunner brand. It puts UTSA on the map and highlights the opportunity that Steve Hensons program provides.
With Cason Wallace having scheduled his announcement date for Nov. 7, UTSA fans will have to wait to find out Wallace's final decision.
Birds up and Go Runners!