Basketball

Texas Tech Basketball Notebook: A Starting 5; Agbo’s Nigerian Olympic Tryout

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ESPN’s Jeff Borzello writes about the biggest challenge for each new head coach and this was for Mark Adams:

Biggest challenge: Proving he can recruit. Adams is considered one of the best defensive minds in college basketball, one of the brains behind Texas Tech’s elite defensive units over the past five seasons. The Red Raiders ranked top-10 in adjusted defensive efficiency in 2018, 2019 and 2020, before finishing No. 18 last season. But Adams hasn’t been known as much of a recruiter — and he’ll need to get talent to Lubbock.

Early returns: Adams and his staff have been busy, first convincing Marcus Santos-Silva to withdraw from the portal, then landing several impact transfers: Davion Warren (Hampton), Bryson Williams (UTEP), Adonis Arms (Winthrop), Sardaar Calhoun (Florida State) and Daniel Batcho (Arizona). And then Terrence Shannon Jr., opted to return to Lubbock at the NBA draft deadline. They’re also still in the mix for transfers Kevin Obanor (Oral Roberts) and Jaden Shackelford (Alabama).

This is obviously a bit dated because Obanor did transfer to Texas Tech, but Shackelford elected to return to Alabama I think. Regardless, the returns for Texas Tech and Adams appear to be really good.

ESPN’s Jeff Borzello has his preseason Top 25 and Texas Tech enters the equation at #24:

It’s been a rocky offseason for Texas Tech, which saw seven players enter the transfer portal in the days following the end of the season — and also bade farewell to coach Chris Beard, who led the Red Raiders to tremendous heights during his five seasons in Lubbock. Nearly four months later, Texas Tech finds itself back in the top 25 after an impressive rebuild via the portal. Oral Roberts transfer Kevin Obanor — one of the breakout stars of the NCAA tournament — vaulted Tech into the top 25, but he’s not the only impact newcomer. Davion Warren (Hampton), Bryson Williams (Hampton), Adonis Arms (Winthrop) and Sardaar Calhoun (Florida State) will all be counted on for immediate impacts. The return of Terrence Shannon Jr., who had entered the NBA draft, also gives the Red Raiders a proven Big 12 scorer who could be ready to take the next step. The keys for Tech will be whether Mark Adams can continue the program’s dominance on the defensive end, and point guard play. Warren can play that role, as could returnee Clarence Nadolny.

Projected starting lineup:

Davion Warren (21.2 PPG at Hampton)
Kevin McCullar (10.4 PPG)
Terrence Shannon Jr. (12.9 PPG)
Kevin Obanor (18.7 PPG at Oral Roberts)
Marcus Santos-Silva (8.3 PPG)

I think point guard play is my biggest concern too, I know the thought is that Mccullar plays there, but he, nor any of the starters have really been great passers (not that they won’t), but we’ll have to see if that’s the case.

Texas Tech’s Wes Bloomquist writes about Chibuzo Agbo and his journey, most recently trying out for the Nigerian Olympic team. Chibuzo’s father is from Nigeria and that afforded him the opportunity to play.

During those two weeks back in California, Agbo embraced instruction from coach Mike Brown and competition against professionals. Brown is leading the D’Tigers in Tokyo along with currently being an assistant coach with the Golden State Warriors after head coaching jobs with the Cleveland Cavaliers and Los Angeles Lakers. He’s coached LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Steph Curry to name a few. Making an impression on a coach who’s led the greats of the game can’t be easy, but Agbo immediately commanded his attention.

“Chibuzo is a young man I’m extremely interested to see and watch closely during the course of the week,” said Brown during the camp. “With his size, athleticism, ability to shoot the ball, strength and ability to defend, it looks like he could be at a very high level. Especially for a young guy. The things he’s doing at our camp in preparation for the 2021 Tokyo Olympics are off the chart. I’m excited for him to be here.”

“He didn’t have to say those things so it was a huge compliment for me,” Agbo says.

If you haven’t read this, I very much recommend reading the whole thing.

Head coach Mark Adams has hired Matt Scherbenske, who was the associate head at Central Arkansas. Scherbenske played high school at Oak Hill, then played a year at Oral Roberts under Scott Sutton (there’s your connection), then transferred to Kentucky and got into coaching after that. At Central Arkansas was primarily focused on recruiting:

During his tenure at UCA, Scherbenske has been actively involved in recruiting, player development, scheduling, and game planning. He worked closely with Jordan Howard, who was the Southland Conference Freshman of the year, and his senior year was selected as the Southland Conference Player of the Year. During his senior year, Howard was the third leading scorer in the nation, and was selected to the Reese’s All Star Game.

Scherbenske has also distinguished himself as a tenacious recruiter for the Bears. In 2018, Scherbenske was ranked as the #57 best recruiter in the nation, out of 1400 Division one coaches, on 247 Sports. Scherbenske helped recruit three 3 star players to UCA to include, Khaleem Bennett (Sunrise Academy), Jaxson Baker (Brophy Prep), and Eddie Kayouloud (Oak Hill Academy). In 2018, UCA’s recruiting class was ranked 107th in the nation on 247 Sports, the highest of any Southland team.

Three-Man Weave’s Matt Cox previews Texas Tech, who comes in at #28 of their preseason rankings. This is a good preview and there’s three guys who write for this site and they take an average of their rankings to come up with where a ream sits in how they rank teams. I’d add that these last paragraphs do sum up the state of the program I think.

It’s tough to sort out where KJ Allen fits in the puzzle but the top-10 JUCO prospect will get every chance to crack the rotation under Adams. Allen shapes up to be one of many JUCO gems Adams plucks on the recruiting trail going forward. When you sum it all up, there’s 10 guys worthy of clocking 20+ minutes on any given night – who starts is anyone’s guess.

Bottom Line: Mark Adams is not your run of the mill, continuity alumni hire, folks. He’s been Beard’s right-hand man since the Little Rock era and remains a legend from his days on the JUCO circuit (he’s already an NJCAA Hall of Fame inductee). With Santos-Silva back to anchor the defense, the Red Raiders’ will have no issue getting stops. And with the infusion of bonafide bucket getters tailor-made for Adams’ renovated offense, TTU is well equipped to replenish the offensive production left behind by McClung and Edwards.

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