Basketball is less than a week away, the winter chill is already in here in Lubbock, and the Red Raider basketball team is rearing up for another great season. The major question about this team leading into the season is what players are going to step up and fill major roles this season with guys like Jarrett Culver and Matt Mooney moved on to bigger and better things.
The lack of big men on this roster is apparent. We signed T.J. Holyfield from Stephen F. Austin and added 7-footer true freshman Russel Tchewa to the roster as well. Holyfield will obviously take most of the minutes at that position and Tchewa could take some time to develop. With the back-up spot in question, Beard and his staff might start looking at other positions to fill spots at center.
Look not further than Tyreek Smith. I know that he is very small for that position at only 205 pounds, but his abilities far outweigh him. At 6-8, his size fits pretty well for the position. He is very crafty at the rim and can protect the paint. I really see him running in more of a forward position, but I don’t know how often the center position will be used on this team.
Smith can run with the best of them. His athleticism will be his best ally early in the season as he looks for minutes in the back-up center and forward spots. Coach Beard and his staff have done really well developing guys that have elite athleticism and that is what makes Smith a better basketball player. His jumper needs work, but his defense and ability to finish at the rim will make him someone you have to look at for minutes early in the season.
I can’t really foresee how the season will go for Smith this early on. He will have to prove that his lack of jump shot and slightly slender frame won’t doom him against bigger opponents early on in the season if he wants to fit into Beard’s rotation this year. He has his elite athleticism and finishing ability at the rim on his side, but another year for development wouldn’t hurt him either. Look for Smith to come out with some minutes early on in the season and attempt to make an impact as early as game one for the Red Raiders.