In preparation of the fast-approaching basketball season, I asked the Staking The Plains staff to answer weekly questions and we kick that off today.
Who do you think will be the most improved returning player?
Chibuzo Agbo. We kept hearing so much about him not only this off-season while working with long time NBA coach Mike Brown and the Nigerian national team, but the off-season prior to that too. He played crunch time minutes last year despite not getting a lot of time for a reason. If his shot is more consistent, we’ll see a player that went from six minutes a game and average just a couple points to being a solid early contributor off the bench or possibly a starter
Nadolny was in my view getting better each game he got his chance to get quality minutes on the court last season. If before his injury this offseason, I’d probably pick him as the guy that would have a chance to be the most improved returner. Yet, I’m not sure how serious his injury will be to his continued playing time and rehab to get on the floor this upcoming season.
We also watched Agbo get some shine on him during stretches especially in the NCAA tournament. If I’m picking right now, he is the returning player I’ve circled as having ability to have a breakout season. Mark Adams has talked about having a volume three team, who isn’t afraid to fire away from downtown. With all the skills that Agbo brings to the court, and having range to extend his shooting from beyond the arc. Giving him a green light to fire away might be all he is needing to jump to the next level of his game. I’m excited to see him win a new wrinkle in the offense to be more explosive. He should flourish this upcoming season.
Although Agbo is probably the guy to watch, I can’t help but root for Nadolny. He plays with such an intensity and a fire which, unfortunately, can get him into foul trouble quite quickly. I’m looking for him to be more of a factor this year.
His minutes jumped up from about 6/gm in 19-20 to almost 9/gm in 20-21. This didn’t result in much of an increase in production, however, so there’s a lot of room for improvement, particularly from behind the arch (0.278 last season).
Where I think he’ll shine is if Adams makes good on the hints of installing a full-court press. I could see a world where Nadolny grabs a steal every game and makes a huge impact defensively.
When I wrote about a breakdown of the roster I had Kevin McCullar pegged as an inside wing because of his skillset, namely that he was an outstanding rebounder and also a decent shooter, but a terrible three-point shooter. You’ll note that McCullar also had a decent assist rate, but not to the extent of what Adonis Arms and Davion Warren had done at their previous stops.
Reports from the offseason indicated that McCullar would play a point-forward position, but I’m not sure how that will play given that McCullar’s biggest weakness is his three-point shooting, making only 28% of his three-point shots. The thought here is that there are likely other less traditional players who could make up the difference, namely Kevin Obanor, Adonis Arms, and Sadaar Calhoun.
Where McCullar could greatly improve his game would be to improve his shooting. The modern game and I think the game that Texas Tech will play on offense, will largely be dependent on spacing and being able to make shots. The success of this team will be dependent on how shooters shoot, McCullar’s 47% from 2-point range isn’t great, but the 3-point shooting is largely holding back his game. If McCullar improves this aspect, he immediately inserts himself into the NBA conversation.
I think all of these guys are self-reflective and I also tend to think that McCullar’s shot isn’t broken. He’s got good form, it’s probably a repetition thing and that’s why I’m thinking that he’s got the most room to improve because he’ll have a ton of opportunity to do it.
I should add a few caveats: 1) the above-linked post was written before Terrence Shannon, Jr. decided to return to Texas Tech; 2) like the other writers noted, the easy answer is probably Chibuzo Agbo or Clarence Nadolny because they both played so little and have so much room to prove as to the type of player that they are; 3) I could very well write this same post about Shannon and improving that 38% 3-point shooting; and 4) to be a good three-point shooter, start getting over 40% and we’re really cooking with fire.