Matt Haarms is going to be a BYU Cougar. Tech fans have had a mixed scale of responses since the day the program expressed interest in Haarms. Some thought Haarms would be an incredible post presence and be a key piece in this teams offense. Some thought Haarms was way too tall to be able to keep up in the switch everything defense. Irregardless, Haarms is now out of the question. Fortunately Chris Beard was already reaching out to VCU forward Marcus Santos-Silva in case of this very event.
To properly evaluate Santos-Silva’s potential value to the team, we have to look at what the team is currently working with. The rotation of big men currently consists of Joel Ntambwe, Esahia Nyiwe, Tyreek Smith, and Andrei Savrasov. Those are listed in order of who I believe will receive the greatest to least minutes. All of these are stretch forwards. Nyiwe is more of a rebounding and block threat than the others, but is also an exceptional ball handler for someone 6’10”. So what role does Santos-Silva play? Well, listed at 6’7” (same as Micah Peavy), it’s clear he is a little undersized for someone who plays the traditional 4 and 5 positions. Despite this, he is an incredible rebounder. I’ve included his rebounding stats from the 19-20 season compared to Matt Haarms below.
In case these stats aren’t already impressive enough, Matt Haarms is 7’3”. That’s more than half a foot taller than Santos-Silva. These numbers were good enough to make Santos-Silva Top 3 in the A-10 Conference in all three of the RB% categories. A big complaint from Red Raider nation last season was that rebounding was such a critical issue. Well, if you want rebounding, this guy is the jackpot.
Defense is probably my favorite thing about Marcus Santos-Silva. Again, as someone who is undersized for his position, he plays so much bigger than he is. He averaged 1.3 BPG (7th in A-10) and had a 5.3 BLK% (6th in A-10). He doesn’t let anyone bully him in the post. He held the best player in college basketball, Obi Toppin, to just 12 points in their February match-up. This is really good news where in the Big 12, if you have a big man you can abuse teams in the post. Santos-Silva is not gonna let anyone bully him, no matter how tall or how they big they are. His grit and determination to simply win every individual match up makes it no surprise as to why Beard likes him. He’s coming off a season where he had an defensive rating of 89.1 (3rd in A-10). He also had 5 games with 3 or more steals. Despite weighing 250 pounds, he moves his feet so well and manages to keep up with guards very well on the perimeter. This is a huge advantage compared to Haarms when you consider Texas Tech’s switch everything defense, which would force Santos-Silva to defend outside the post.
The offense for Santos-Silva is limited, but effective. He scores almost exclusively in the paint, having never attempted a three-pointer in his 3 collegiate seasons. He’s a very efficient scorer, finishing with a FG% of 56.9 (2nd in A-10 to Opi Toppin). He looks good in the pick-and-roll, a necessity for a big man in Beard’s motion offense. He also had a PER rating of 25.66 (75th in Division 1 Basketball). Here’s his shot chart from the 2018-2019 season. Although the chart is outdated by a season, Santos-Silva’s scoring is still done entirely in the paint. Seeing Texas Tech feed the ball to the low post would be interesting considering it was almost never done last season.
Texas Tech’s roster is already in prime position to make a deep run next season. What's missing is a veteran who can be reliable scorer and defensive anchor. When it comes to those gaps, you’re not going find a better option than Marcus Santos-Silva in the transfer portal. Under Chris Beard’s leadership, he’s only going to gain confidence. In Mark Adams defense, he’s only going to be more difficult to score on. With John Reilly’s training, he’s only going to better fit into the tempo/aggressiveness. Now this isn’t a player who will come out every night and drop twenty, but this is a guy who you can count on to consistently win metrics beyond the box score (but also average double-digits). If Santos-Silva wants to play somewhere that he’ll get national attention, joining a Texas Tech team that already has an Elite Eight caliber roster sounds like a great fit.