When Khavon Moore committed on February 26th last year, it was seen as a monumental win for the program. He was the highest rated recruit in Texas Tech history at the time of his commitment, and his recruitment brought a ton of excitement to the program. At that point, it seemed like a certainty that Moore would be a key factor in taking the fight to Kansas in the Big 12 this year.
We are now in January, nearly 11 months after Khavon initially committed, and we have yet to see the Georgia native suit up for a game. He’s been participating in various different warm-up exercises, and has even been going through some forms of practice with the team (as evidenced by pictures of team practice) throughout the season. Despite all this, Khavon has still not been officially cleared.
It seems as if the team has an intention to play him, but based off this tweet that came shortly after a press conference with Chris Beard, it looks like there are still medical clearances needed. Even so, there is no doubt Khavon is entertaining the idea of playing. Just one look at his Twitter account shows him playing to the hype Tech fans have regarding his potential return this season. My gut instinct tells me Khavon would not be allowed to engage with fans like he has unless there was a strong chance of playing this season. For reference, Zach Smith did not tweet anything about a potential return last season until mid-February, and fellow freshman Kevin McCullar has been much less vocal regarding potentially playing this season.
Now that the situation has been established, it seems natural to wonder what the benefit of playing Khavon this late in the season would be. Here are the main things Khavon could help with on the court:
Primary Ball Handling
As a self proclaimed guard, Khavon Moore views himself as a primary facilitator. The video above shows Khavon’s highlights from the 2017 Chick-fil-a Classic against Providence Day. As a side note: Providence Day is a much better team than Khavon’s Westside team. As you can see in the video, Khavon utilizes a ton of dribbling penetration as the only real offensive threat on his team. Moore scored about 31% of all his team’s points in high school, which indicated his offensive value. Against Montverde, which had the #1 prospect in the country in RJ Barrett and was widely considered the best high school team in America, Khavon put up 26 of the team’s 55 points.
Having Khavon as a primary ball handler would allow the quartet of Kyler Edwards, Brandone Francis, Matt Mooney, and Davide Moretti to play more off ball, which seemingly fits their strengths better. Moretti is the only one of those four to have an offensive rating above 105, and none of them have a higher assist % than turnover % (which is the percentage of possessions that end in an assist vs. an offensive turnover when they have a possession.) This is a problem that creates offensive woes, as Jarrett Culver is somehow the team’s most efficient scorer, ball handler, shooter, and perimeter defender. Adding in Khavon, who at the high school level showed he could be a unique offensive player, could be vital in creating enough offense to generate an Elite 8 run.
The biggest difference between Texas Tech this season compared to last year is the increase in single or two-position players. Matt Mooney, Kyler Edwards, and Tariq Owens have not been playing minutes at more than two positions, which means that the only players that can consistently be plugged into any lineup are Brandone Francis, Jarrett Culver, and Deshawn Corprew. Last year, Tech had about seven players that were able to play at least three positions. Khavon Moore has shown the ability to play every position 1-4, with the size of a college PF and the handles of a point guard. Having that versatility allows Beard to utilize specialized match-ups, which in the Big 12 could allow for a more versatile offense.
One interesting factor in this season’s Red Raider squad is their rotation. Early on nine players were getting consistent minutes, however in conference play Malik Ondigo has not played, leaving the rotation at eight players. This could be fine, however last season Chris Beard used a ten man rotation down the stretch, which allowed the team to stay fresh down the stretch. As Jacob Harris wrote yesterday, expanding the rotation with Khavon could make life easier without either Moretti or Mooney on the floor at both ends of the court.
Overall, this team will be Big 12 contenders with or without Khavon Moore. The team has a defense playing at an all time great level (the 83.1 AdjD rating would be the lowest in Kenpom history if it holds), however ultimately the team will need more consistent offensive production in order to seriously challenge for a Final 4 or more. Adding Khavon could create the extra spark the team needs, and could elevate the team to a serious national championship contender.