Five Thoughts about the 2022-23 Texas Tech Men’s Basketball Season
The Texas Tech Red Raiders are done with their 2022-23 men’s basketball season after going 16-16 and being eliminated from the Big 12 Tournament.
The Red Raiders confirmed to the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal on Thursday that, even though it had a .500 record, it would not accept a bid to any postseason play.
With that, we have five thoughts about the Red Raiders’ season.
In non-conference, Texas Tech played a four-game stretch against Power 6 teams and went 2-2. The wins came against Louisville and Georgetown, neither of which played at the level we expect them to play. The losses were to then-No. 10 Creighton and to Ohio State, both of which came in Hawaii. The Red Raiders lost those two games by a combined 18 points.
Tech won its other 10 games pretty handily. Then came Big 12 play.
The Red Raiders lost their first eight games of Big 12 action. They played the majority of the season without forward Fardaws Aimaq, a player who averaged a double-double at Utah Valley last season and was expected to be one of Tech’s top players. He was out with an injured foot.
A win over LSU in the Big 12-SEC Challenge ended the overall losing streak. After that Texas Tech went on a bit of a run, winning five of seven league games and beating three ranked teams. It looked like it might be enough to help the Red Raiders sneak into the NCAA Tournament. But, Texas Tech lost its final four games, including its first-round game against West Virginia in the Big 12 Tournament.
Before Texas Tech went to Kansas City, head coach Mark Adams was suspended for what Texas Tech called an “inappropriate, unacceptable, racially insensitive’ comment to a player prior to the Red Raiders’ regular-season finale with Oklahoma State. He resigned after Tech was eliminated from the Big 12 Tournament, a decision that prompted the announcement that the Red Raiders would not accept a postseason bid.
Kevin Obanor was the heartbeat of this team, averaging 14.4 points and 6.4 rebounds per game. De’Vion Harmon, an Oregon transfer who once played at Oklahoma, picked up his play and averaged 13.6 points and 3.6 assists.
The revelation was freshman guard Richard ‘Pop’ Isaacs, who came on at mid-season and averaged 11.5 points and shot nearly 38 percent from the 3-point line. Once Aimaq returned from injury, he played 11 games and averaged 11.1 points and 7.9 rebounds, giving the Red Raiders a glimpse of what could have been. Jaylon Tyson, who transferred from Texas, averaged 10.7 points and 6.1 rebounds. Put that together and you see what could have been this season.
Here’s another reason why Texas Tech isn’t going to accept a postseason bid. Aimaq has already declared his intention to enter the transfer portal. That’s one starter out the door. Obanor is gone, too, but he’s out of eligibility. Harmon is the only other senior listed on the roster, but he has a year of eligibility left.
The issue is with the coaching search is that more players could follow Aimaq out the door.
Who’s Staying and Coming In?
Assuming Harmon doesn’t transfer, the Red Raiders have three returning starters back with Isaacs and Tyson. The rest of the roster is young — freshman guard Lamar Washington, junior guard D’Maurian Williams, freshman guard Robert Jennings, junior forward KJ Allen, sophomore forward Daniel Batcho, freshman guard CJ Williams, freshman guard Elijah Fisher and junior guard Kerwin Walton.
The freshmen are worth keeping tabs on.
Tech has one transfer who has already committed to the team for next season, Georgia forward KyeRon Lindsay. He went to Twitter on Thursday and reiterated his commitment.
As for the recruiting class Adams leaves behind, the Red Raiders picked up two Top 150 players and guards in Jason Jackson out of Sarasota, Fla., and Drew Steffe out of Frisco, Texas. Jackson is considered a four-star player.
It will be up to the new coach to try and find a way to keep them — or determine if they’re worth keeping.
If the last two hiring cycles for coaches is any indication, there will be a lot of change. The Red Raiders have to hire a new head coach and I doubt it will be an internal hire. It will likely take a multi-week search to find the right coach. During that time, players will likely make decisions either to transfer or to wait to see who the new hire will be. Assuming the Red Raiders hang on to everyone, they have three returning starters and a lot of young talent that could be developed into something down the road. But it will be up to the new coach to sort through all of that. Right now, the Red Raiders are a team in flux.
You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard