On Friday of last week, news broke that Georgetown transfer guard Mac McClung was granted his waiver and would be eligible to play this year. Earlier in the summer or fall, Wichita State guard Jamarius Burton was also granted his immediate eligibility, although there was the initial thought that Burton would sit out this year. Beard has always liked the idea of having a player develop, last year it was Tyreek Smith, who had an injury that kept him out early in the year and a decision was made to redshirt him. Additionally, Joel Ntambwe never received his waiver to be immediately eligible, so he sat out all of last year as well.
|Guard||Kyler Edwards | (6-4/195) | JR|
|Clarence Nadolny | (6-3/190) | SO|
|Nimari Burnett | (6-4/195) | FR|
|Avery Benson | (6-4/195) | RS JR|
|Jamarius Burton | (6-4/205) | RS SO|
|Mac McClung | (6-2/185) | RS SO|
|Small Forward||Terrence Shannon, Jr. | (6-6/210) | SO|
|Kevin McCullar | (6-6/205) | RS SO|
|Micah Peavy | (6-7/215) | FR|
|Forwards||Joel Ntambwe (6-8/225)|
|Tyreek Smith | (6-7/220) | RS FR|
|Chibuzo Agbo, Jr. | (6-7/215) | FR|
|Marcus Santos-Silva | (6-7/245) | SR|
|Center||Vladislav Goldin | (7-1/240) | FR|
With the addition of McClung, all of the possible redshirt years have been moved to the end of the careers of these players, i.e. the redshirt is available if a player needs it, but in college basketball, most players don’t utilize the redshirt.
With the immediate eligibility of McClung and Burton, you’re seeing head coach Chris Beard’s most complete roster since he arrived at Texas Tech. That’s a ton of pressure, especially when you consider that Beard has been to the National Championship game. Maybe a better way to frame it is that from top to bottom, this roster is perhaps the most talented. If there is an injury, there are likely players that can step-up and fill the void.
There were two knocks on last year’s team: 1) lack of play-making guard; and 2) lack of inside depth. I mentioned that Rob Dauster had his Big 12 preview and noted the lack of a guard being Texas Tech’s biggest weakness and someone argued that it was the lack of big men. I think both were probably fatal flaws and you could argue sensibly for either to have been more important than the other. I tend to lean towards the play-making guard because the offense stagnated so much, the offense comprised of jump-shooters with no one to drive and dish.
Beard went out and tried to solve that problem on a couple of levels, namely Nimari Burnett, commits and signs. I don’t know that Burnett is a pass-first type of guard. Burnett is a good shooter and more than competent ball-handler, but he wasn’t necessarily known for his passing acumen. The transfer of McClung also helps because McClung is incredibly athletic and I don’t know that McClung will necessarily be a huge passer, he should be able to finish at the rim, which was one of Jah’mius Ramsey’s biggest issues (and continues to be an issue heading into the NBA Draft).
Of the players that are projected to carry with them point guard duties T-Rank is predicting that this will be the assist rate for those players (there are no projections for freshmen, so Burnett is not included and Clarence Nadolny is not included for some reason):
- Kyler Edwards: 18.5% assist rate
- Mac McClung: 19.5% assist rate
- Jamarius Burton: 26.3% assist rate
So even though we may be initially excited because of what McClung brings to the floor, it may be Burton who is the one who is getting the ball to the talented players in the right spots.
And as far as the big men, the addition of two guys, in Smith and Ntambwe, with the addition of VCU transfer Marcus Santos-Silva, well, there’s as much depth as there as the Final Four team. Plus the addition of four high-end wing players in Shannon, who is maybe the most underrated player in the conference, McCullar, Peavy, and Agbo, there’s just so many players that have the potential to play significant minutes.
As an aside, T-Rank is one of my favorite analytic websites, and there’s no personal bias in the rankings, but the numbers are projecting Texas as the best team in the nation, West Virginia 2nd, Baylor 5th, and Texas Tech 6th, with Kansas 12th. That’s insane and 2020-21 should be an absolute battle for the Big 12 Conference crown.