With no Red Raider basketball games played this last week, I thought I’d write about 5 players trending right now with the program instead of my usual weekly trending post.
TRENDING FOR TEXAS TECH
Josh Gray (Freshman Point Guard) | This young baller has the tools to do it all, and has been impressive over the first six games of the season. He is quick with both his hands and his feet. Gray uses his physical abilities to accomplish things both on the defensive and offensive side of the ball. In the Jackson State game he had 7 steals which ties the Tech single game record, and on the season he averages 3 per game (#10 in the nation, #1 in Big 12). Coach Walker definitely has confidences in this floor general because he is allowing the freshman to average 26 minutes per game, which is more playing time than any other guy on the team. Gray has put up 11.3 ppg, and grabbed 3 rpg which is solid for a PG. He distributes the ball well at times and averages 2.8 assists per game (#11 in Big 12), but his passing is also his biggest downfall as well. If you watch him he can do some tricky passes that not only catch defenders off-guard but even fake out his own teammates. This is from the lack of experience the young PG has with his new teammates, but that will change over time as they build chemistry with one another to anticipate where the passes are going before Gray throws them. He really needs to cut down on his turnovers over the rest of the season or it will be his Achilles heel to not be considered one of the elite guards in the Big 12. At 3.8 TOPG Gray is #39 in the country and #2 in the Big 12 at turning the ball over. His free throw shot needs to get better as he is only making 46.2% every time he goes to the line. You can assume he will make points from downtown each game and he shoots the three-ball decent but it’s another thing that will get better with practice and time. I like his driving ability as he can get to the basket in a hurry when needed. But, the thing I seem to like the most about Josh Gray is his leadership ability that our squad can look forward to for the next 4 years. I am going to predict based on my opinion that if Gray stays on our Tech team for 4 years he will break multiple school records, and be a Big 12 First-Team pick with the possibility to be a NBA Draft selection.
Jaye Crockett (Junior Forward) | He is elevating his game to where I always thought he would this season. Last year on this blog during the end of the season evaluation of all the players I stated that Jaye Crockett was the best player on the team, and I still stand by that statement. I have always seen his ability and talents and seemed to actually get frustrated when he didn’t use them. Pat Knight didn’t play him a lot as a freshman (13.2 mpg) and it would kill me because he was one of the better players on the team. I think Knight had a thing for seniority on that squad though because hardly any other freshman played any minutes from what I remember. Billy Gillispie would tick me off because he started Lewandowski and Tolbert in the lineup down low when I thought it should have been Tolbert and Crockett. Crockett was our leading scorer in Big 12 play last year. This year while I know Coach Walker is starting Kravic and Tolbert down low, I still think Crockett should start. The argument is out there that some guys do better off the bench as a 6th man and will bring spark to the team when they come in, I don’t buy it. If a player is really good and a top player in the unit he should be a starter, anybody watch the NBA and see what James Harden is doing for the Rockets going from glorified 6th man in OKC to starter in Houston? Crockett has been a beast for Tech so far this season coming off the bench yet leading the team in scoring 15.3 ppg (#5 in Big 12) and rebounding 8.3 rpg (#2 in Big 12). He makes 64.8% of the shots he puts up (#24 in nation, #2 in Big 12). When he goes to the charity stripe he makes 85.7% of them (#6 in Big 12). The pressure defense and full court press Coach Walker has implemented is helping him out this year get 1.3 spg (#15 in Big 12). The good thing is he is averaging a lot of minutes getting 25.3 per game, second on the team behind Gray. He could work on getting a few more blocks down low, but I don’t have a whole lot of criticism for Crockett’s game. If you’ve had the pleasure, as I have, to watch every Texas Tech basketball game this season I think you’ll agree Crockett is dominating this year. I even am surprised to see his three point game is starting to show this season, and if he can get the outside perimeter game working to go along with his mid-range and post play he will be unstoppable.
Jordan Tolbert (Sophomore Forward) | I’m not going to harp on Tolbert too much about a slow start to this season because I realize he is going through a situation that I will never be able to understand, and I feel sorry for the guy. His father passed away a few weeks before the basketball season started and he missed 2 weeks of preseason practices. It’s got to be harder than anyone can or would want to imagine for a young guy to lose his dad. Tolbert has not been having the attacking start he had during his freshman season last year. He seems to lack the aggression and attitude that would make him fight to the rim last year on offense, and guys are muscling him up down low much better. He is making just 8.5 ppg in 18.5 mpg. A big problem with Tolbert that he had last year was his foul trouble at 3.3 per game, and it has seemed to get a little better... but not much. He averages 2.8 fouls per game (#8 in Big 12) which forces Coach Walker to put him on the bench more then he would like to. His statistics are suffering because his minutes are being shaved based on something that he has to be control of on the court when playing. As he learns his body better, and gains some more experience against big guys down low he should cut down on the fouls. Another thing is he needs to learn how to defend the guards that come driving down the lane. These are things he can work on. A plus is that he does make his shots when he gets them off 62.5% (#41 in the nation, #3 in the Big 12). He will get more minutes when the fouls go down and his numbers will go up. Tolbert should have some time to learn this season he has to be more aggressive on offense but stay more disciplined on defense.
Dejan Kravic (Junior Forward) | Kravic is a newcomer that I get mixed readings on his game when watching him play. He might be 6’11’’ but he plays with the athleticism and finesse of a smaller forward position more than a power forward or a 5 position. I know he has bulked up over the course of last season when he sat out, but I still think he needs some size and strength on him to be a better frontcourt player. I am impressed with his ball handling and shooting ability, but I get worried when I see him watching shots go up and not blocking out down low or getting pushed away from the basket with the ball in his hands when defenders go up against him. His long frame allows him to do good at blocking shots averaging 1.8 bpg (#5 in Big 12). His stretch lets him get rebounds, but he needs to do a better job blocking out on every ball that goes up towards the rim. Still he is averaging a good 5.5 rpg (#23 in Big 12). Get this, he is another Red Raider that shots extremely well, making 58.8% of his shots (#5 in Big 12… yes… Texas Tech right now has 3 players in the top 5 in the Big 12 in FG percentage made, that’s damn exciting). He scores 11.3 ppg (#17 in Big 12). It’d be nice for him to cut down on his 2 TOPG, but I’m sure it will go down as the season goes on. I like Kravic and think he is doing well on certain things, but needs to learn a lot before the powerful Big 12 conference games start. I also am interested to see if he is a starter still at the end of the year over Crockett. He is averaging the 5th most playing time on the team at 21.3 mpg.
Trency Jackson (Sophomore Shooting Guard) | I am a fan of Jackson so far this season. The guy flat out hustles all the time. He had to sit out the first game this season because of disciplinary reasons unknown sentenced to him by the coaching staff. I hope those reasons unknown are behind him because he is a really good player to have out on the floor. Jackson and the other starting guard Jamal Williams are guys that get on hot streaks during games and can go on a run themselves especially from behind the three point line. Jackson has been 3 for 6 from downtown twice, and the other three games he is 1 for 9 from beyond the arc. His stats aren’t consistent game in and game out but he does average 8.4 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 1.8 spg, 1.6 apg, 1.8 TOPG, and 2.2 fpg. He gets points when needed, but needs to be a better free throw shooter at only 50% from the line. He is improving slowly though shooting 83.3% FT percentage over the last three games. Jackson averages 22 minutes per game of playing time which is 4th, and right behind Williams who gets 23.3 mpg. Jackson and Williams seem to be getting better each game and learning fast. I think Trency will be a very strong teammate over the next 3 seasons and am glad a guy like him is willing to give his all on both sides of the ball. Time will only tell how good he can get and what he will raise his game to by the time he hangs up his Red Raider uniform.