Texas Tech Hoops – Previewing the Backcourt

Last week we took a look at the Red Raiders frontcourt, now it is time to take a glance at the backcourt. There are 17 players listed on the official roster, and I had a good question from KDavis7 asking about Matt Temple and available scholarships. So, I wanted to update everyone on a few things with the roster…

There are 13 available scholarships for D-1 MBB. The Red Raiders have 17 players listed on the official roster, and we have listed that Vilarino, Hicks, Sorrells, and Benson are preferred walk-ons. The others on the roster have extinguished up all the scholarship spots.

Out of those 17 players, 13 are listed as guards. Here they are –

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Keenan Evans – A breakout season for Evans in his junior campaign in which he averaged the most points per game (15.4) and assists per game (3) on the team. He is a clear starter coming into his senior year, and should have the role of the leader on this squad. He will play at PG, but might get some more playing time than usual at SG this season. The thing I was impressed to see was Evans development more of an outside shooting advantage, raising his three point shooting percentage to 43.2%. You can really count on getting points from Evans, because he has a knack to make baskets or get to the charity stripe (shooting 84.9% on FTs). Evans is another key player on this roster that will be important for Texas Tech to make a postseason appearance.

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Justin Gray – Listed as a guard, the small forward starter is a 6’6″ glue-guy and is probably the most complete package on this team. He can score, rebound, and defend. Gray is not going to tear it up on the stats sheet, and had a poor outside shooting percentage last season. Yet, the team seems to play better when he is on the court. As a senior starter I expect Gray to have his best year yet as a Red Raider. Gray should shift from small forward, to even receiving some minutes at power forward in the frontcourt for some small ball.

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Niem Stevenson – Working his way from the bench to starter for most of the regular season games near the end of last season, Stevenson got a lot of playing time. He is a scrapper that can get the ball through the net by driving to the rim. He is very good on the defensive side of the ball, and has length with his wiry frame for a guard. That makes him a match-up nightmare for opponents. The only downside is he could out of nowhere be inconsistent on both sides of the ball. Overall I think we will see him during his senior year at SG as listed on the official roster, but he should get minutes at small forward as well.

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Brandone Francis – The former 4-star recruit transfer from Florida had to sit out last season. Now that he can play, he is going to be listed as a junior on the team. Francis is a combo guard that has a chance to shine at the PG/SG position. He has all the talent to be dangerous on offense and defense. Can he put it all together at Texas Tech? We shall see. If Francis can live up to his potential on the court, we will see him crack the starting lineup.

Hyron Edwards – Coming in from JUCO, the 6′ PG can handle the ball and get some assists along with points. Coming in from Trinity Valley CC, we will need to watch how quickly he can grasp the D-1 game. He has a ton of upside, and if he can perform should serve as a nice backup at the 1 position.

Josh Webster – Another JUCO transfer, Webster does not seem like a big scorer. Yet, he seems to be the type of PG that wants to distribute the ball and be the typical game manager with lots of assists. Same as Edwards, we will see how quickly he can make the jump from JUCO to D-1. Whichever one thrives first will get the most minutes at the PG position this season.

Now, let’s look at the incoming freshman scholarship players. I am always thinking optimistically for the Red Raiders basketball program. When it comes to taking the leap from high school to the D-1 level it is harder to assess how good a player is going to be, until you see how he develops from game to game. Here we go –

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Davide Moretti – Not your typical high school to D-1 freshman player, Moretti is coming from Italy. He has already played for the 18U & 19U Italian team in the FIBU European Championships. As he played overseas with different rules, he was already playing in an Italian professional league before choosing to play at Texas Tech. I hope the hype on Moretti is for real, because we could use a baller with long beyond the arc range. He could be a very special addition to this roster playing at the PG/SG position.

Jarrett Culver – The homegrown product from Coronado High School picked to stay in Lubbock after receiving other Big 12 offers from Baylor, Oklahoma State, and Texas. He has the physical presence to grow into a nice sized frame for a guard, and he has ball handling skills along with an outside shot. We will see how he develops as the season progresses, but look for him to be an option at SG and small forward.

Zhaire Smith – He is a highly rated recruit that picked the Red Raiders over the Longhorns. His recruiting videos show his dunking ability to be incredible along with his scoring stats. He is a bigger guard, that might be able to get some time at SG and even at the small forward spot. He will be fun to watch.

Here is a preview of the preferred walk-ons –

Andrew Sorrells – Played in a few games during his freshman year. He did not get any playing time last season, so he was able to take a red-shirt season. This year he will be considered a sophomore. Sorrells grandfather is former chancellor Kent Hance, his parents are Texas Tech alumni. Being a Red Raider is in his blood. With the depth we have at the guard positions, Sorrells will probably not get many minutes on the court.

Parker Hicks – He averaged 31.3 points and 10.2 rebounds while shooting lights out for Decatur High School. Also, his Mom is a Texas Tech alum so being a Red Raider also runs in his blood. Unless we need some outside shooting bursts, Hicks might not see a lot of action in his freshman season.

Avery Benson – He comes from Springsdale, Arkansas and looks to have a really smooth stroke from the outside. Benson will not likely see a bunch of playing time his freshman season.

Alex Vilarino – From McKinney High School, it looks like he has game and can score. He definitely can get to the rim. Vilarino will have to work hard and earn some minutes on the court if he wants to play this season.


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