Recently, Chris Beard and the basketball staff have been on fire on the recruiting trail. Over the past six months, Beard has received commitments from two four-star recruits, including one in the Top 50 and one in the Top 100, and are in contention for several other highly rated recruits.
In past decade or so, the Red Raiders haven’t been the ideal top destination for recruits. The highest signee under Tubby Smith was Isaiah Manderson (whom was just above a Top 200 recruit) and his highest class was in the 70’s and seventh in the Big 12 according to 247sports.
Before that, Tech had a few higher rated recruits like Josh Gray, Terran Petteway and Jaye Crockett, but Tech still failed to finish in the Top 50 classes and were in the bottom half of the Big 12. However, Lubbock is starting to attract some top talent under Chris Beard.
In Beard’s last two classes, the Red Raiders had their two highest average rankings in the past decade, finished in the top half of Big 12, had their four highest recruits in a decade and had two Top 40 recruiting classes. This doesn’t even include the three recruits that weren’t included in the 2018 class.
So why is the basketball team doing so well on the recruiting trail? Well that is due to several factors.
Willingness To Play Freshman
What freshman want the most is a chance to play. A lot of them don’t like going from the star of their team to riding the bench or getting very few minutes their first couple years. Well, Beard showed right away that he uses a lot of depth and isn’t afraid to play freshman.
It was obvious last year, when Jarrett Culver and Zhaire Smith came off the bench, but got 20 minutes a game each right away. They played well, and ended up both earning starting jobs by the new year. Even Davide Moretti got minutes, despite not being a starter or a top player for the Red Raiders.
While the cream of the crop know they’re going to get minutes right away, this helps Texas Tech with the highly rated recruits that are not predicted to go in the NBA lottery or be one and done. They know that they are going to be able to make an impact and perhaps improve their chance to get drafted early.
Not Afraid To Search Places Unknown
Chris Beard has a good balance of where he recruits. While he obviously goes after the top recruits in Texas, due to them likely watching more Texas based teams because of their location, he also goes all over the world. The staff has gotten a top recruit in the country from Georgia (which Tubby tired to do, but fell short), Nevada and overseas in Italy and France.
He kept a promise to Moretti to get him to commit by going overseas and watching him while he played for his country. He traveled to Georgia, got one of the best recruits in the nation with his resiliency, and now is in contention with their top recruits once again (the Georgia basketball schools aren’t very good at the moment).
Beard also developed a trust within graduate transfers and D-1 transfers with the minutes and play of players like Tommy Hamilton IV, Anthony Livingston and Brandone Francis. Tech got two graduate transfers and a transfer from another school this past class.
Proof Is In The Pudding
The best medicine for recruiting is winning. Players want to win. Winning teams often get exposure and give them a better chance to go pro, but also the feeling of winning is also great in itself. Look how many players got drafted from Villanova after their dominating season this past year.
The Red Raiders almost won their conference (and might’ve if it weren’t for injuries), made it to the Elite Eight, had to lowest point differential to the eventual national champs, and had a relatively unknown player in high school drafted in the first round.
All these high recruits likely realize this and know with Beard’s coaching and their talent, they also can have a chance to win the conference and make a deep run in the tournament. And if Beard can turn an relative unknown into a first round pick, what can he do for me?
Kingsbury looked like he was on this path, but a bad 2014 season and barely above .500 season the next hurt his recruiting a little bit. Beard doesn’t necessarily need to make it to the Elite Eight again to maintain this, but missing the tournament or a bad season could hurt the Red Raiders.
If Texas Tech basketball and keep this up like the track and field and baseball programs, perhaps we’ll see them in a situation where they have a chance at the conference and national title year in and year out.