Versatility of the Freshmen in the Frontcourt

One of the best things about the 2017 class is the versatility that comes along with the three freshmen big-men as part of that class. We’ll get to the fact that this freshmen class may be the best ever at Texas Tech, but for now, it’s really interesting to see the type of players that Chris Beard has recruited.

The Player: Zhaire Smith (6-5/190)
The Position: Small Forward
The Fit: It’s a bit strange. I initially had Smith pegged as somewhat of a shooting guard, but I don’t think he’s there quite yet. Smith doesn’t have the range to play shooting guard, but he’s definitely got the versatility on defense to cover just about any offensive player. He could play defense on a shooting guard and has the arm-length to play most small forwards. Smith is probably going to be valuable there on the defense as he starts his career and he’ll have to open up his mid-range game offensively. I think it’s interesting that Smith was essentially a top 300 player in the country, which is fantastic, but it’s largely based on his projection as the player that he’ll become. I think Smith has a long ways to go, but there’s something satisfying of seeing what that player becomes. I’d also add that I think Smith grew a bit between his junior and senior year so that changed a bit in terms of why he was a late bloomer for teams offering him.

The Player: Daniel Mading (6-9/200)
The Position: Power Forward
The Fit: Mading is an interesting player because he was so highly recruited and *something* happened. I’m not at all saying that something bad happened, but something happened, maybe it was a year a prep school or just taking time for him to mature a bit, but Mading is really a highly skilled player that seemingly should have had more teams coming after him. He’s already the type of player that you somewhat dream about on the offensive end. He is incredibly long in terms of his arms and has a nice shot from the outside. Mading is where the game is headed, with big forwards who are capable of creating issues in the pick and roll aspect because he can drive and take the ball outside.

The Player: Malik Ondigo (6-10/210)
The Position: Center
The Fit: I’m all but certain that Ondigo is going to be a legitimate center. Maybe won’t be as tall as some, but at 6’10” Ondigo is plenty big to play center. It’s been awhile since Texas Tech has had a really athletic center, one that can run the court and finish at the rim and protect the rim. I just can’t think of a guy that Texas Tech has had that’s done that (not in a long time). Ondigo is more athletic that Norense Odiase (Odi obviously has size and experience on his side) and without having seen Tommy Hamilton play, it’s tough to say where Ondigo is in terms of that, but depending on how Ondigo rounds out his game and who else Texas Tech recruits, Ondigo could also play some power forward as well.

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