KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Last summer, Kevin Durant made a trip to Austin, Texas, and attended a workout with the Longhorns.
The time with the NBA superstar inspired the club, Texas interim head coach Rodney Terry said Thursday at a news conference before his second-seeded team faces 3-seed Xavier in the Sweet 16.
"He hadn't been back on campus in a long time," said Terry, who was an assistant under Rick Barnes when Durant attended Texas during the 2006-07 season. "He got a chance to work out with our guys, just jumped right in: 'Whatever you guys are doing, I'm doing.' I think our guys were looking around like, 'Wow, OK. Kevin is jumping into all the stuff we're doing.'"
Terry said he's maintained a good relationship with Durant since he's become one of the NBA's top players.
On Thursday, Durant told Boardroom -- the media platform he founded with business partner Rich Kleiman -- that Terry has been a great leader for a program that had to evolve after Chris Beard was suspended and subsequently fired amid domestic violence charges earlier this season.
"[He] has led this team on- and off-the-court as well as anyone could have expected," Durant said. "To see them in the Sweet 16 with as good a shot to win the national championship as anyone is a testament to the amazing job he's done."
let's get it @TexasMBB https://t.co/sWwbemrlsh— Kevin Durant (@KDTrey5) March 23, 2023
Terry said the program's connection with Durant illustrates the love Durant has for the school, despite only playing with the Longhorns for a year.
"He just spent some time with the players we currently have on our team, worked out with those guys," Terry said about his team's experience with Durant last summer. "He's one of those guys that's vested in our program. He wants nothing but the best for Texas. Having had a personal relationship with him, I think it means a lot to him in what we're doing and how we're doing it right now."
Despite leading Texas to the Sweet 16, however, Terry is still the interim head coach. When asked why he hasn't been given the permanent role yet, Terry said he's only focusing on what he can control.
"We've been blessed enough to be here in the NCAA tournament and playing in the second weekend, and we've got an incredible challenge ahead with Xavier, who is a well-coached team as well,' Terry said. "We're just excited about where we are right now, living in the moment."