On Monday night, the Red Raiders received a commitment from Khalid Thomas, a junior college power forward from College of South Idaho. Although this commitment may not have sent shockwaves across Lubbock like when Khavon Moore or Kevin McCullar committed, it has a great impact on the class and what Beard will do.
Thomas Has Potential
First off, this isn’t as high as a commit as we expect from Texas Tech, as typically the past two years they’ve been getting four-star recruits casually. Imagine telling yourself that back in 2016. Technically, he’s a four star according to Rivals, but 247sports and ESPN don’t have him ranked.
And it’s not like he wasn’t heavily recruited or sought out. Thomas had double digit offers, including some programs who have produced some very good college and NBA caliber big men. Programs like Arizona, Baylor and Oklahoma come up immediately as colleges who have done it. Oregon, Virginia Tech and West Virginia are good programs too.
Not only that, but he is also a very prolific player at the junior college level. He averaged 14.7 points, 6.5 rebounds and .9 assists per game, with a field goal percentage of 54.8 percent and three point percentage of 41.4 percent. His team fell short in the NJCAA championship game a season ago to Tech player DeShawn Corprew and the local South Plains College.
To top it off, he was named the JUCO Preseason Player of the Year by Street and Smith’s. He showed out last season and provided through his play that he should be a D-1 prospect. So even though he may not get as much noise as others, this is a great commit.
Thomas Provides Recruiting Flexibility
After this next season, Texas Tech will lose a great Red Raider in Norense Odiase, along with Tariq Owens, who is projected to be a key contributor to this year’s team. The big men on the roster than will be Malik Ondigo, who hopefully will contribute this year, and Josh Mballa.
There are no guarantees they will be enough, especially with Ondigo’s lack of playing time last year and Mballa just arriving on campus. It was important that Beard at least landed some sort of experience forward he could stick at the four/stretch five in that Zach Smith and possibly Tariq Owens role.
Now that Beard has his JUCO big man, he can worry about the high school kids. The Red Raiders once again will have a large amount of scholarships open. They had seven available last year (and used them all before Roberts left), and have six for this class (four seniors, Josh Webster transfer and an open scholarship).
That open scholarship will go to Kevin McCullar, who may join in the spring, and one of the other scholarships will go to Thomas. So where will the other four go? Well Tech has a lot of options to choose from.
My bet is Tech will fill two or three of them in the following months, then the other one or two once the season ends for another international player (Moretti, Mballa) and/or graduate transfer (Livingston, Hamilton, Mooney, Owens). So who would Tech get within the next months? Well that list is very exciting.
Jahmius Ramsey is one of the top recruits in country, ranging from early 40’s to the 20’s overall. Insane, right? He’s projected to pick the Red Raiders as of now (Now it’s 100% on 247sports’ Crystal Ball and favored on Rivals Future and Fan Cast). He visited for the Lamar game, took a visit to Louisville, Memphis and soon Miami. He also moved back home to play for Duncanville, which is just outside of Dallas.
Antwan January is another name that could pick the Red Raiders. Tech is losing two big men, so it’s only right if they gain two big men. He officially visited New Mexico and Texas Tech (according to Rivals) so far, but his top schools aren’t eye popping and Rivals thinks Tech has a good chance of landing him (100% for FutureCast, 83% for FanCast). He’s considered a Top 100-150 guy.
Some other names we should keep an eye on are Terrence Shannon, a SF that is considered a Top 100 player by some services, Marcus Watson, a Georgia guard who visited with McCullar and Ramsey for the Lamar game, and Emmanuel Taban, who named his top group of Nevada, Texas Tech and Wyoming. This is going to be fun.
Thomas Fits The Mold
I briefly mentioned this in the first section, but Thomas will fit that Zach Smith and possibly Tariq Owens mold that Chris Beard likes for his system. Both players are athletic forwards who can run the floor, stretch the floor, play above the rim and protect the basket.
Mballa and perhaps Ondigo is like this as well. We talked this around the NBA finals about the team Beard is trying to build this team like the elite teams in the NBA. Well Thomas fits well like the Al Horford/Draymond Green/Clint Capela (with range) mold.
I don’t need to explain exactly what he brings (although the video below should help), but just imagine what Zach Smith brought to Texas Tech for the past four seasons. That is why Beard went after him and why he continues to go after those types of guys.
This is going to end up being a good commitment for the Red Raiders. I don’t think he’s going to be like Keenan Evans where we act like he’s the greatest thing since electricity, but he’ll be essential for a postseason run in the coming years.