After the end of another disastrous season for Texas Tech, Kirby Hocutt had a decision to make. Promote interim head coach Chris Walker, who took over the program after the Gillespie scandal, or go after another candidate. Hocutt decided to look around and stumbled upon a legendary coach in Tubby Smith, who was recently fired after taking Minnesota to the Round of 32. They offered Tubby the job and he accepted the position, causing multiple events to occur. Chris Walker left the program, 5-star SG Keith Frazier decided to commit to SMU (after reports were out that he choose Texas Tech) and Josh Gray left the program. Fans were wondering if Texas Tech made the right decision hiring Tubby Smith, who was an older coach and could possibly leave if a better opportunity occurred. After improving to a 14-18 season, breaking student attendance records and upsetting ranked teams, everyone is starting the believe that Hocutt made the right hire.
I'm not going to lie, I wanted Texas Tech to hire Chris Walker. I wanted a young coach who could come in and be a cornerstone for a program. I also wanted Keith Frazier, whom looked to be committed to Tech, and Josh Gray. However, I'm glad Tubby Smith was hired and is making a difference in our program. Although we didn't get Frazier and Gray ended up transferring, I believe that Tubby Smith will have a bigger impact recruiting in the long run than Walker would have. Here's why.
1. Tubby Smith has all the connections
Tubby Smith has been in the coaching business for 35 years, being a head coach for 23 of them. He has coached in the mid-west, south-east and the north. Throughout all those years in coaching, he has made connections and relationships with coaches all around the country. This is how is able to go to places is Missouri State West Plains and grab players like Justin Jamison and DeVaugntah Willaims, and head to the bottom of Florida to get Justin Gray. He knows many areas around the country well and where to recruit them. Look at his time in Minnesota. In addition to grabbing recruits from Minnesota, he also grabbed some high profile guys Texas, Tennessee, Virginia and Canada. Tubby is able to recruit from all across the nation. Currently, his top targets for next year consist of recruits from Minnesota, Georgia, Iowa and Texas. Not only will Tech have a wide range of athletes to recruits, but doing so will spread their name across the region for years to come.
2. Tubby Smith has Prestige
A big reason why every commit choose Texas Tech was to work with the great Tubby Smith. In the past, he has lead a Tulsa team to the Tourney, helped bring a Kentucky team a national title, and revived a Minnesota program. At Texas Tech thus far, he has brought us from a 11-20 record where we lost a majority of our conference games by 20, to a 14-17 record where we were in almost every game and could have easily had a winning record pending last possession misses. Recruits from all around recognize Tubby's greatness and what he's done throughout his career, therefore trusting that he can make them a better player playing for a winning program. Players like Gray, Jamison and Odiase have specially said in interviews that Tubby was one of the main reasons they choose to come to Texas Tech. Recruits down the line will realize the same thing, giving Tech another edge on the recruiting trail.
3. Tubby Smith works non-stop
When Tubby Smith and Co aren't coaching basketball, they're out on the roads. Tubby and his staff visited every recruit before they committed and are doing so now with recruits like Jarvis Johnson and Henry Ellenson. Joe Esposito, an assistant at Tech, tweets out #buildingamonster every time he's on the recruiting trail, which seems to be almost everyday. These coaches are trying their best to get find the best recruits (highly rated or not) in the country to bring them to Lubbock. This past week when basketball season looked to be over, Tubby visited State Championships in Wisconsin and Minnesota, along with going to the NJCAA national championships to look at the best JUCO players in the country. Even when it doesn't look like he's recruiting, he is. Tubby Smith will be on the CBS broadcast helping with tournament coverage this week, and being on TV, the broadcasters will likely talk about Texas Tech some, and recruits watching will recognize Tubby's basketball knowledge and the Texas Tech program. Given that playing in the tournament may be better for recruiting, but this the best you can do outside of the bracket. He may be getting up there in age, but the energy doesn't stop.
4. Tubby has brought big names to previous locations
No matter where you look at, Tubby Smith is able to bring big names to his programs. In Kentucky, he helped bring in big time players year after year, helping make the program legendary. Although Kentucky was already a big time name and already had recruits with their ears open, Tubby was still able to bring in great recruits. In Minnesota, he brought in a Top 100 recruit almost every season he was there. Many 4 and high 3 star recruits would commit to Minnesota, bringing depth and talent to the team. Starting in 2015, I believe we will start seeing the same trend with Tubby and Texas Tech. Many 4-star recruits are already keeping a close eye on Tech and keeping us on their radar. With only two scholarships to use, we can go all out on some of these big name recruits in hopes of convincing them to pick Texas Tech.
Now we don't know what would've happened if we stuck with Walker, but I am more than satisfied with what Tubby is bringing to the table right now. Keith Frazier ended up having recruiting problems at SMU, where apparently Frazier didn't pass high school, and his grades where changed for the sake of basketball. While there is still investigation and no consequence at the moment, there is a big question mark about Frazier. Currently he is averaging 15 mins a game, scoring 5.5 points with 2 rebs and .9 assists. We shouldn't worry about what he is doing though. Tubby is bringing in some good players that will be able to contribute right away and will soon be able to bring in recruits that could be even better. Soon enough, we will be able to answer the questions 'Will Tech make the NCAA tourney" and "Can Tech compete in the Big XII" with a confident yes, and Tubby will be leading the charge.