Basketball

Basketball Thoughts: Roster Update, Big Men, and Versatile Forwards

We’ve got thoughts.

A handful of games ago, someone asked me to write about why Texas Tech doesn’t have a traditional big man who can score and this got my mind rolling in that I needed to update the 2019 basketball commitment page to include new commitment/signee/enrolee Andrei Savrasov (6-9/215) and also update the roster in terms of the numbers.

Roster Numbers

With the addition of Savrasov mid-season, counting as part of the 2019 class, Texas Tech is finally full in terms of numbers. Each class is allowed to have 13 scholarship players and with Savrasov that’s where Texas Tech currently sits. Both Kevin McCullar and Savrasov are on campus, but will most likely not play this year. I think they could play, but most likely 2019 is going to be a redshirt year for both players.

The other interesting thing is that this roster is pretty well set for the next couple of years, barring transfers and things like that. Currently, there are 12 scholarships taken in each of the next two years, although those things may change if Jarrett Culver decides to take his game to the NBA, which is expected. Texas Tech would then have two spots available to get to 13.

Peering into the future, things are pretty well set and there’s a pretty solid foundation moving forward so long as guys stick around and stay.

Roster Construction

Position Player 2019 2020 2021 2022 2023 2024
Guard Matt Mooney (6-3/200)
Davide Moretti (6-2/175)
Jarrett Culver (6-5/195)
Kyler Edwards (6-3/200)
Kevin McCullar (6-5/180)
Jahmius Ramsey (6-4/190) HS
Forward Brandone Francis (6-5/215)
Deshawn Corprew (6-5/210)
Khavon Moore (6-7/215)
Josh Mballa (6-7/215)
Khalid Thomas (6-9/210) JC
Andre Savrasov (6-9/215)
Center Norense Odiase (6-8/250)
Malik Ondigo (6-10/215)
Tariq Owens (6-10/205)
Russel Tchewa (7-0/255) HS
TOTALS 13 12 12 7 4 0

I always find looking at the scholarship eligibility chart a bit easier to understand how the roster is constructed. At one point I decided to try to break down who is the point guard and who is the shooting guard and then I kind of scrapped that in favor of just three categories: guards; forwards; and centers. Texas Tech does tend to have a point guard, which is currently Davide Moretti, but I think that really bringing up the ball is not something that just one player does. Sometimes it is Matt Mooney, sometimes it is Jarrett Culver, sometimes it is Brandone Francis. I really don’t think that head coach Chris Beard cares who brings up the ball and other than Keenan Evans, Beard hasn’t had a dominant point guard.

That could possibly change in this recruiting cycle as Beard & Co. I think would like to add a point guard to the mix. I think the staff is working overtime to get the commitment of Damion Baugh, he’s essentially down to Texas Tech, TCU and Memphis I think if Baugh commits, then I think the final spot will be another forward type of player.

Big Men

That last sentence I just typed leads me to my next topic, which is the fact that there just doesn’t seem to be a dominant big man for Texas Tech. I’d add that dominant low post players are tough to find. The two centers projected to be on the roster next year are Malik Ondigo and Russel Tchewa. Ondigo hasn’t had a ton of opportunity to play, partly because he’s had more talented players in front of him, last year it was Zach Smith and Tommy Hamilton IV along with Odiase, but next year, it’s going to be the Ondigo and Tchewa show because there aren’t a ton of options.

The “why” Beard doesn’t recruit big men, well, technically Beard does offer some talented centers: Will Baker (5-star – Texas); Drew Timme (4-star – Gonzaga); Victor Iwuakor (4-star – Oklahoma); Jalen Graham (4-star – Arizona State); Antwan January (3-star – Illinois); and Rick Issanza (N/R – not committed). There’s no doubt that Tchewa is the rawest of the centers offered and maybe that’s Beard’s thought process here, which is if some of the more talented centers choose to go elsewhere, he’ll go after guys with a lot of physical traits, but maybe not a huge low-post game.

There are two other quick items for me, which is that Al Pinkins was the low-post coach last year and he moved on to Florida. I think he was very good at his job. I think he was hard to replace from a low-post teaching perspective. Glynn Cyprien is a heck of a recruiter and I think that you see some other guys start to fill what Pinkins left, like Brian Burg and Max Lefevre.

Bring Me the Forwards Who Can Do It All

I’m not as concerned about the lack of true centers, because I think that Beard’s grand plan is to have guys who are versatile on offense and can switch on defense with players who can funnel players towards the middle with centers that can protect the rim. In Beard’s defensive system, the center’s main job is to play fantastic defense and then the other four players can switch on the perimeter.

Offensively, the players on tap for next year really share a singular trait on offense and defense, which is to be able to switch defensively (mentioned above) and offensively these guys need to be able to create their own shots, mainly the guards and the fowards need to be able to drill outside shots.

This is new enrollee Andrei Savrasov.

Put on the floor. Check. Bang inside. Check. Drive and dish. Check. Hit the outside jumper. Check.

Khalid Thomas can do these sorts of things too. While Kyler Edwards, Deshawn Corprew, Jahmius Ramsey, Khavon Moore, and Kevin McCullar are all big guards who can handle the ball and drive to the bucket. This is going to be a very different and young team next year, probably the youngest team of Beard’s tenure, but it’s going to do some things that this year’s team can’t do.

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