Texas Tech enters the year with a lot of roster turnover and disarray with their coaching situation. Billy Clyde Gillespie made plenty of enemies in his short tenure at Tech. He ran off assistants, players, coaches and plenty of boosters in the process. His top assistant Chris Walker inherits the mess he left. Will they be any better than the 1-17 team last year in Big12 play? On paper, the answer looks to be no.
A bigger blow was that Texas Tech's two incoming players with Big12 talent are not available for Walker this year. Wanaah Bail- a 6'9" top 100 recruit- decided to bail after he had enough of Gillespie's antics. Aaron Ross- a 6'8" 235 lbs freshman was a top recruit for Arkansas. He didn't get his academics in order at Arkansas so he attended prep school. He signed with Texas Tech and then blew out his ACL in September. Tough blow for a talent depleted team.
Chris Walker has been a long-term assistant. He played at Villanova and has been an assistant at Loyola Marymount, Vanderbilt, Pepperdine, Villanova, New Mexico and Texas Tech. He was named the interim coach and how the year turns out will probably determine whether he stays on as the permanent coach. But the deck is clearly stacked against him.
Right now, there are only two assistants left- Bubba Jennings- a former player and long term assistant for Tech. And Jeremy Cox- who has coached as an assistant with Doc Sadler and at juco. There have been rumors circulating that the final assistant will come with an impact player next year. But that assumes Tech decides to keep the current staff in place.
6-1 175 lbs Josh Gray (FR)
Gray was a big scorer in high school- averaging over 23 points and 6 assists. I've seen Gray play, he's very quick. He is athletic. He can score. He is wild. His shot selection and game management are questionable. He also doesn't have the strength necessary to lead a team to victories yet. But he is a much more athletic prospect than Ty Nurse who was the starting point guard last year. If you could combine the best qualities of Nurse and Gray, you would have a very good Big12 point guard. Gray is good at the things that Nurse is not and vice-versa. Gray will likely get the nod and Texas Tech will just have to live with the growing pains.
6-1 185 lbs Ty Nurse (SR)
Nurse averaged 9 points and 2 assists. He turned it over 2 times per game. He's a steady player like Sam Grooms for Oklahoma but he doesn't have near the talent to work with that Grooms has. He hits 90% of his foul shots. He is an adequate shooter- 39% from 3 point range. Texas Tech needs creators and so Nurse will likely be the back up this year.
6-4 195 lbs Toddrick Gotcher (FR)
Gotcher averaged 7 points; 4 rebounds and 3 assists before suffering a season ending foot injury. Gotcher received a medical redshirt so he remains a freshman. He showed some good potential in the non-conference games. He logged heavy minutes last year (30 minutes per game before the injury) and will probably be counted on this year to log big minutes again this year. He is a good all around player who I expect to be one of Texas Tech's three best players along with Crockett and Tolbert.
6-2 185 lbs Trency Jackson (SO)
There is not a lot of information on the three transfer guards. Jackson is one of them. Jackson averaged 10 points; 2 rebounds; 3 assists and 1 steal for Northwest Florida State. He was a top recruit in the state of Mississippi in high school. He was rated #13 by Brad Winton in the Juco top 100 ratings. Usually the top 5 guys coming out of Juco are the ones that make a difference. So many talented kids are going the prep school route versus the Juco route these days.
6-0 175 lbs Daylen Robinson (JR)
Robinson averaged 12 points; 2 rebounds and 4 assists for Moberley CC. He along with Jackson are the guys that I think will get the most time of the newcomers.
6-4 190 lbs Jamal Williams (JR)
Williams averaged 11 points; 3 rebounds and 4 assists for Lake Land college. He is originally from Brooklyn.
5-9 170 lbs Luke Adams (SO)
Adams was a guy that you love to root for. He's undersized and deaf except for cochlear implants. He plays very hard. He averaged 19 minutes; 4 points; 1 assist and 1 rebound. He is not a guy that you can rely on to win you games in the Big12 however.
6-4 210 lbs Dusty Hannahs (FR)
Hannahs is from Little Rock. He is known for his 3 point shooting. He averaged over 20 points per game in high school. Most of his offers were from mid major teams. He will probably need some time to develop.
6-7 225 lbs Jordan Tolbert (SO)
Tolbert is the best player at Tech. He would be a contributor for any Big12 team. He averaged 12 points; 6 rebounds as a freshman. He shot well from the field- 52% and 72% from the foul line. He averaged 5 foul shot attempts per game. Gillespie was erratic with his minute distribution. One game Tolbert would play 35 minutes and then play 6 minutes. He turned it over too much- almost 3 per game.
Tolbert is the one player that has the ability to contend for All Big12 honors. He should log a lot of minutes and could be a guy that averages a double/double in points and rebounds considering how thin Texas Tech's frontcourt is. He has a solid low post game- strong broad shoulders to finish through contact and a decent touch around the rim.
6-7 200 lbs Jay Crockett (JR)
Crockett should be Tech's second best player. He averaged 9 points and 6 rebounds last year. He had a nice 5 game stretch to finish the season- 13.4 points. He shoots 48% from the field and 73% from the line. He also does a good job of getting of getting to the foul line- over 3 attempts per game.
Crockett has the quickness and athleticism to be a good defender. He doesn't shoot a lot of three pointers (14 on the year). He prefers to score in mid range or around the basket.
6-8 190 lbs Clark Lammert (FR)
Lammert was pressed into some action last year out of necessity. Physically he was not ready. He needs to gain a lot of strength. He does shoot well and plays a smart brand of basketball. His brother Connor is a freshman at Texas. He averaged 3 points and 2 rebounds in 10 minutes per game last year.
6-11 245 lbs Dejan Kravic (JR)
Kravic was redshirted last year along with Kader Tapsoba. Process that for a minute. Texas Tech finished 1-17 in the Big12 and had woeful frontcourt depth and yet Kravic was redshirted. This doesn't bode well for his contributions this year. He will add some size and fouls. He averaged 16 points and 10 rebounds for York University in Canada prior to signing with Texas Tech
6-10 222 lbs Kader Tapsoba(JR)
Tabsoba was redshirted last year as referenced above- but his was due to a knee injury. He did average 3.5 blocks per game in junior college. They hope to get rebounds, blocks and defense from him.
Outlook and Questions
With so many newcomers, it will be hard for Texas Tech to gain traction. Tolbert, Crockett, Nurse and Gotcher are the main returning players with experience and skill. It should be another long year for Texas Tech basketball fans.
Five questions for Texas Tech heading into the season:
1. With so much turmoil in the program and an interim coach who most think is only a short term patch, how motivated will this program be to turn things around? Will they get the kind of effort they will need to pull off some upsets in the league?
2. Will Josh Gray be a pleasant surprise at point guard? He has the talent to compete in this league. Will he be overwhelmed like so many freshman guards are? Or will he be a surprise like a Trey Burke from Michigan who performed like an elite freshman guard although he was less heralded coming out of high school?
3. The one thing that Texas Tech did well last year was get to the free throw line. But the flip side is that they committed a slew of fouls. Gillespie was a control freak but his teams always competed on the boards and defensively. Walker will have a different style. Can they improve on their woeful offensive efficiency (296- KenPom) but still be efficient defensively and get to the foul line for free points?
4. Texas Tech was almost dead last in the NCAA in turnovers. They turned it over 17+ times per game. Starting a true freshman at point guard doesn't seem like the remedy to that problem. Will they be able to control their turnovers?
5. Lubbock can be a tough place to win. Texas Tech managed to beat Oklahoma by 18 at home last year- their only win of the year in the Big12 but they also played highly competitive games at home against teams like Baylor, Missouri, Texas, A&M and OSU. Will they be able to generate some excitement at home and get the fans behind them?