Texas Tech Basketball Position Preview | Centers

KANSAS CITY, MO - MARCH 09: Robert Lewandowski #15 of the Texas Tech Red Raiders passes the ball against the Missouri Tigers during their first round game in the 2011 Phillips 66 Big 12 Men's Basketball Tournament at Sprint Center on March 9, 2011 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

POSITION PLAYER HEIGHT/WEIGHT YEAR
Center Robert Lewandowski 6-10/256 Senior
Center Kader Tapsoba 6-10/200 Junior
Center Daouda Soumaoro 6-10/220 Freshman

There will be some roster attrition because right now, there are at least two more commitments who have signed a letter of intent than there are available spots. Unfortunately, we just don't know who is not going to receive a scholarship. The purpose of this exercise is to give everyone who is on the roster and speculate a bit about where these players might fit.

Prior Position Reviews:  Point Guards | Shooting Guards | Small Forwards | Power Forwards | Centers

Robert Lewandowski | 6-10/256 | Senior

Lewandowski started off so well, scoring in double-figures and you could tell that he had worked on a low post game, exhibiting some decent moves and scoring in a variety of methods. But Big Lew tapered off as the season wore on and I think that Lew wore down as well. There were too many times last year when I thought that Lew asked to be pulled from the game because of conditioning. I think the days of players asking to be taken out are long gone. I would love to see Lew lose about 15 to 20 pounds and be around 240 next year. And I'm not talking about losing any sort of strength, but he would be so much better if he were a bit more lean. Last year, Lewandowski averaged 23 MPG; 8.4 PPG; 55% FG; 74% FT; and 4.8 RPG. What we need to see next year, a double-figure scorer and a guy that's grabbing closer to 6 or 7 rebounds a game. And I also think that Lew is going to be featured next year as I think that Gillispie is going to want to play the game inside out and Lew is a decent enough passer to facilitate a low-post game while kicking the ball out to the shooters.


Kader Tapsoba | 6-10/200 | Junior

I'm going to have really low expectations and then be pleasantly surprised. Texas Tech has pulled in a handful of JUCO big men that haven't done very much. Off the top of my head, there's Esmir Rizvic, Ricardo DeBem and Paul Cooper. Rizvic may not deserve to be in that group, but he wasn't a game-changer by any means. If Tapsoba does anything, and I mean anything, positive, then I'll be incredibly excited and thank my lucky stars that he gives the team 10 to 15 minutes of competent basketball. When Tapsoba committed, his coach talked about how he hadn't really even picked up a basketball as a freshman at Tyler J.C., but he's worked on his game and was a defensive presence, averaging 6.7 PPG; 8.0 RPG; and 3.5 BPG. The other thing that I really like about Tapsoba is that he's a smart kid, a JUCO Distinguished Academic All-American. Smart players are usually better than players that are not smart. And the fact that he has improved so rapidly from year to year is at the very least encouraging.

More on Texas Tech's newest signee, Daouda Soumaoro . . . after the jump.


Daouda Soumaoro | 6-10/220 | Freshman

Yet another player that I don't know much about, except for the fact that he was deciding between two pretty good basketball programs, St. John's and Washington.  And to clarify, the reason I'm writing about Soumaoro here is because I've already posted the power forward preview and he's probably between a power forward and center for this team.  Soumaoro chose Texas Tech and the word that's used to describe him is that he's raw, but there's potential.  The thing that encourages me is that Soumaoro is a freshman and although I'm listing him here as a center, he's probably more or less a post player.  As we've discovered through this process, the ESPN profiles are proving to be the most accurate and he's a chunk of Soumaoro's:

Strengths:
Soumaoro is a well built and versatile big man with good potential. He has a long and sturdy build, already supporting a cut physique with the room on his frame for expanding mass. He runs the court well, is relatively agile for a player his size, and has a quick second bounce. He is very active on both ends of the floor, rebounds in traffic, and contests/blocks shots inside the paint. He has a soft touch facing the basket, consistent range to 15 feet, and is even capable of knocking down the occasional three-pointer.

Weaknesses:
Soumaoro's high motor and active game is important because it hides the fact that he isn't quite as athletic as he looks. While he has some developing dexterity around the rim, he isn't always a consistent finisher because he is rarely able to play above the rim in traffic. While he has a good shooting touch he tends to short arm his release and needs to learn to finish the shot. He appears more comfortable facing the basket than with his back to it and would do well to develop some type of low post scoring presence.

Like a lot of post players that are this young, his post game needs some work, but that's to be somewhat expected and the nice thing is that he's got 5 years to figure out how he can utilize his athletic gifts.  Soumaoro's Scout profile notes that he's a 2-star player I also stumbled on this bit, also from Scout:

DESCRIPTION OF SOUMAORO'S INDIVIDUAL GAME:

He has the ability to rebound on both ends of the court and defend with purpose. We previously watched him compete with Jim Hart's Albany City Rocks AAU program during the July evaluation period down in Disney World.

According to OSNA assistant coach Eric Jaklitsch, the talented prospect came to the United States in November of last year. Since he has arrived on our shores, Soumaoro has gained 30 pounds.

RRS.com's Aaron Dickens talked to the aforementioned assistant coach for Soumaoro and had this to say about him:

"There is playing time at his position that is available," said OSNA assistant coach Eric Jaklitsch. "They have a need for a power forward and he likes Coach Gillispie's record with big men. He has a good track record with big men."

According to Jaklitsch, Gillispie was very impressed with Soumaoro's skillset and motor.

"The kid is a warrior," Jaklitsch said. "(Gillispie) really thinks that he's going to help the kid expand his game and everything. The kid can fit into what they do -- he's been really good with big men, at Kentucky, at Texas A&M and UTEP and even before that when he was an assistant at Tulsa and Illinois with Bill Self. He's always had a good track record with big men and developing big men.

"They're going to look to push the ball and everything and get out in transition, so that's kind of what Daouda's game is."

Both stories note that as of last year Soumaoro averaged 12 PPG and 10 RPG his junior year and 12.5 PPG, 8.3 RPG and 3.3 BPG and that he's really added some weight since arriving here in the States.  It's quite possible that Soumaoro could fill out even more and that would be a good thing.  I also really like the idea that Soumaoro "defends with purpose".  I'm thinking that this will earn him some playing time. 

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