Joel Ntambwe’s appeal for eligibility, which would’ve allowed him to play in the 2019-2020 season, has been denied for a third and final time. The sophomore transfer from UNLV has been having issues with his waiver since November when his immediate eligibility was denied for the first time.
When Chris Beard came to Tech Basketball just two (2) weeks after agreeing to become the head coach of UNLV, it was obvious his former program was bitter. 4 other players who transferred out of UNLV the same year were granted immediate eligibility for this season. Joel Ntambwe, who came to Lubbock with Coach Beard, is now unable to play this season. Despite UNLV claiming to be fully cooperative, there is clear suspicion of them hindering the process. A process that nowadays is routine for the NCAA, Joel’s transfer seems to have been clearly hindered by UNLV and their head coach T. J. Otzelberger.
Obviously the loss of Ntambwe for the season is a blow. The 6’8” forward would’ve given the Red Raiders some much-needed size down low. Despite the obvious downside to losing Ntambwe, there may also be some serious benefits in the long run. Joel Ntambwe does not just offer size, he is also a great athlete at his height. He is a very talented defender who is able to guard almost anyone on the court. He had 11 blocks and 16 steals in his freshman campaign at UNLV. Being under Beard’s leadership this upcoming offseason offers nothing but improvement towards his already incredible defensive ability. Ntambwe is also a very competent scorer, who averaged 11.8 points last season. He also shot 38.8% from three point range. Getting to be around guys like Holyfield and Tchewa gives all 3 big men an opportunity to develop their game together. Although this loss hurts the Red Raiders for the remainder of the season, do not underestimate Ntambwe’s ability to develop and grow as a player. Although there is much promise for next season, the focus of this program should remain on the current season. Coming off a big win versus the talented West Virginia Mountaineers, this teams focus should be on finishing this season off well, hopefully with another deep run in March.