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Texas Tech targeting plenty of top transfers in 2020 (updated list)

Even if there’s only one scholarship available Chris Beard has proved that every spot on his roster is at a premium.

graphic by Jeramey Gillilan

/UPDATES/

• As of March 27 Justin Turner (G, Bowling Green) narrowed his list to six that did not include Texas Tech.

• As of March 28, Kevin Marfo (F, Quinnipiac) committed to Texas A&M.

• As of March 31, Alan Griffin (G, Illinois) narrowed his list to six that did not include Texas Tech.


Two years ago the ever-eager Chris Beard was in the midst of building his Texas Tech Red Raiders and, like today, spared no time when it came to perusing the transfer market. Back then the name Beard along with the Texas Tech brand were more or less lost in the weeds while blue bloods caught the bigger fish. Fast forward to this year and no other coach has done as much with transfers (grad transfers specifically) as Beard. Athletes in the market are able to look at Texas Tech, see how players like Mooney & Owens utilized substantial playtime right up to the national championship, and picture themselves in the Double T. Even the dismemberment of this post-season doesn’t take away from the amount of exposure Holyfield and Clarke gained while playing for the Red Raiders. The proof has been set in stone: Chris Beard will take you to the next level.

With some quintillion transfers in the portal this year, these are the ones that Texas Tech is publicly after:

Carlik Jones, Guard

Graduate, Radford (20ppg, 5.5 apg, 5.1 rpg)

Radford v Maryland Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

After releasing news about his intent to transfer, Carlik Jones received 40 points of contact from prospective schools. In the recent days Jones managed to whittle down that list to a strong field of eight: Texas Tech, Louisville, Gonzaga, Michigan State, Maryland, Marquette, West Virginia, and (yes) Radford. Without analyzing the intent on other programs, Jones’ decision to include Texas Tech in his smaller list is a testament to the talent coming in to the program as well as the coaching ability of Beard. Regardless of Ramsey’s NBA decision, the Red Raiders are going to stack up the point scoring ability with Nimari Burnett, Micah Peavy and Chibuzo Agbo coming into the fold. Texas Tech is only a year removed from the national championship game, somewhere that Carlik Jones wants to find himself at the end of his collegiate basketball career. Even more enticing now is Kentucky transfer Johnny Juzang’s top five list, which includes Texas Tech as well. Could a Jones-Juzang duo be the veteran scoring power Beard needs for another title run?

Johnny Juzang, Guard

Freshman, Kentucky (2.9 ppg, 1.9 rpg)

Kentucky v Texas Tech Photo by John E. Moore III/Getty Images

Somewhat out of Beards character, as we’ve come to understand it, Texas Tech threw its hat into the ring for soon-to-be-sophomore Johnny Juzang. Coming out of high school Juzang was the No. 33 player in the country and No. 9 in California, fielding offers from schools like Virginia, Kansas, UCLA, Kentucky, Oregon, and many others. After a less-active role with Kentucky he’s put his name in the transfer portal and has settled on five schools: Texas Tech, Arizona, Notre Dame, Oregon, UCLA, and Villanova. We might be venturing into long-game territory if the NCAA Transfer rules remain the same next year. Bringing on Juzang may look a lot like Ntambwe; sitting out a year and coming in for the 2021-22 season. The reduced lists are schools that he believes have a need, and of those there are three coaches that he’s been in continual conversation with: Sean Miller (Arizona), Mick Cronin (UCLA), and of course ... Chris Beard.

AJ Walker, Guard

Sophomore, Air Force (11.1 ppg, 3.5 apg, 3.5 rpg)

Air Force v New Mexico Photo by Sam Wasson/Getty Images

A less hyped transfer on the market, unless you’re listening to Jeff Goodman or Evan Daniels, is Air Force’s A.J. Walker. The sophomore’s intent to transfer came in the wake of a dissapointing 12-20 season and head coach Dave Pilipovich’s departure. In that time Walker has heard from Texas Tech, Gonzaga, Iowa State, Texas, Ohio State, Cincinnati, and Colorado. Though he only averaged 11.1 points a game, Walker’s efficiency hasn’t been lost on Beard. It’s a lot like Shannon, who averages 9.2 a game off of 23.5 minutes of play. Walker is also a 40% shooter from beyond the arc. With the other names on this list I don’t personally see Walker coming on board with the Red Raiders, but the future is as clear as mud these days.

Landers Nolley II, Forward

Redshirt Freshman, Virginia Tech (15.5 ppg, 5.8 rpg)

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: FEB 04 Virginia Tech at Georgia Tech Photo by Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Talk about another player that came out of the transfer announcement with a mass of contacts from various programs. Landers Nolley II is a lethal Georgia native who has two state championships under his belt, and (per his father) is wasted on the post position that Virginia Tech had been playing him at. Despite the restriction Nolley II was still able to put up 462 shot attempts this year (most ever by a VT freshman), lead his team in minutes played (30.3 mpg), made baskets (171), 3-pointers (68), made free throws (85), and if it wasn’t already exciting enough... turnovers with 61! That kind of production earned Nolley the ACC freshman of the week honors five times throughout the season. That kind of production at his position attracted a lot of schools but Nolley has since narrowed it to 11: Texas Tech, Oregon. Seton Hall, Alabama, UCONN, Memphis, Ole Miss, TCU, North Carolina State, Georgetown, and Maryland. It’s a wide berth with a lot of opportunity but Chris Beard isn’t a stranger to Virginia Tech. Last year the Hokies let Chris Clarke join the Red Raiders for a fairly productive season, but Nolley II would come over to fill the gap Holyfield will leave - but would Nolley II be the choice over Tyreek Smith and Joel Ntambwe is the question.

Amauri Hardy, Guard

Graduate, UNLV (14.5 ppg, 3.3 apg, 3.3 rpg)

Nevada v UNLV Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Tough. Athletic. Amauri Hardy is a classic point guard in every sense of the position. With the Runnin Rebels of UNLV, Hardy progressed strongly over the course of his career marking a certain hard work equals good play attitude we know Beard admires. Up top he is a natural scorer with adequate decision making as the primary ball handler, something like Keenan Evans was earlier on with Texas Tech. The decision by Beard to reach out to Hardy makes it clear that Beard is looking for someone to fill that commander role on the court; something Tech consistently lacked this year. Amauri Hardy has the strength and ability to create his own scoring chances off the dribble, forcing defenses to play on him every possession. That skill set coupled with the motion offense would help break open some wide open shots and (or at least it should) further bolster Texas Tech’s ability to put up points. The premise might be simple here: get a lot of ballers that defenses can’t give open looks and you’re going to become an unstoppable scoring machine.

All this being said, with eight six five transfers in discussion for an unsure amount of scholarship spots is a game of chess. If you’re AJ Walker how confident are you that you would get more playing time than a big transfer name like Carlik Jones or an ex blue blood in Johnny Juzang? Even Landers Nolley II has competition against the introduction of Joel Ntambwe and Tyreek Smith next season - two highly anticipated players for the 2021 season. Regardless we are but onlookers to the mad genius that is Chris Beard and his staff; whatever transfers they go all-in on, whatever decisions they make about the current roster, it’s all with the intention of getting back to that last game in April... and winning it.