There’s no doubt that Texas Tech basketball is on the map after an extremely successful run in March Madness.
However, with five seniors departing from the program, one question remains—who will take the reigns and lead the Red Raiders to another prosperous season?
The seniors took the bulk of the load this season, which resulted in the program’s first-ever Elite Eight appearance. With the five Red Raider veterans leaving Lubbock behind, Texas Tech will need to reevaluate its talent.
The Red Raiders still posses an arsenal of skilled athletes that should put fans at ease. Freshman Zhaire Smith and Jarrett Culver stood out in their first year at Tech by each averaging 11 points per game and establishing themselves as defensive threats.
With both Smith and Culver on the court, the Red Raiders will continue to show progress and make another appearance in March Madness. Unfortunately, that doesn't seem to be the case with Smith recently announcing he will be declaring for the 2018 NBA Draft without signing an agent.
That leaves the Red Raiders with Culver, who has shown he has what it takes to be a leader. With the seniors gone, Culver now has the chance to shine and be the floor general for the Red Raiders. His ability to drive to the paint and maneuver the ball reminds me of a young Toddrick Gotcher, who was a standout guard for Tech a few years back.
That doesn't mean Culver will be out there on his own. He has two major returning assets in Norense Odiase and Brandone Francis.
Odiase’s stats this season didn't express how talented he truly is. Not only can he generate points down low, he also hustles on the court and is a rebounder that can lead the fast break.
He also had two seasons to sit out and observe, which can raise one’s basketball IQ. I mean, look at what Ben Simmons is doing for Philadelphia now after sitting out last year. Pretty impressive, right?
Francis also had time to watch Tech develop after transferring from Florida. Although he only averaged five points per game, Francis saw plenty of playing time alongside Keenan Evans, Niem Stevenson and Justin Gray.
Having been guided by Tech’s best of the best, Francis can be in the backcourt with Culver and generate offense with Odiase down low. Lets not forget, Francis also has the range to shoot the three at will, and we all know that basketball has shifted to perimeter play.
We also can’t forget how tremendous coach Chris Beard has been with recruiting athletes during the offseason. This year, Tech was ranked No. 30 in the nation for recruiting, and it only seems like that number will improve.
In February, fans got a taste of Beard’s stellar recruiting by snagging four-star small forward Khavon Moore. The 6’8, 187-pound future Red Raider was a highly touted talent who chose Tech over offers from Kentucky, UCLA, Oklahoma and more.
As a senior, Moore averaged 19.8 points, 9.6 rebounds, 2.4 steals, and 2.5 blocks per game. Throw Moore in the mix with Odiase in the front court led by Culver and Francis in the backcourt and you’re looking at another deep run in the post season.
The future is still unclear, but with Beard establishing himself as one of the best college basketball coaches in the nation with talented athletes out on the court, the Red Raiders are looking at an even more jaw dropping season.
Who will replace Keenan Evans as next year’s leader?
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