Four Thoughts on the State of Texas Tech Basketball

NCAA Basketball: Texas Tech at West Virginia

The Mark Adams era has officially come to an end after just two seasons in Lubbock. His first season was certainly a successful one as he led Tech to a Sweet Sixteen, the Big 12 Tournament Championship Game, and went 5-1 against the top four in the league. However, things unraveled quickly, as Kevin McCullar and Terrence Shannon transferred out, then Clarence Nadolny went back to France. Adams wasn’t forced out for a disappointing 5-13 as much as he was for off-the-court issues. What went on in Lubbock this season, can only be described as complete and utter dysfunction.

This next coaching hire will be extremely important for a Texas Tech program that can easily return to the success of the past five years with the right one or descend to the bottom half of the conference with the wrong one. Texas Tech has a lot of positives going for them, a rabid fanbase, great facilities, a good NIL setup, play in the best league, and a lot of money. There are certainly better jobs, but it’s hard to see many open positions that Texas Tech couldn’t at least rival in a battle for the coach they want. This next hire will be crucial for Texas Tech both short and long-term, and no it won’t be Rick Pitino.


How’d The Adams Era Unravel So Fast?

One year ago Mark Adams was on top of the world, and just about every Texas Tech fan loved him; he could do no wrong. Before the season, I even wrote that he was the man who kept Texas Tech basketball afloat after Chris Beard left for Texas, but boy can things change fast. In the offseason an exodus of longtime players should’ve raised questions, McCullar and Shannon were guys who stuck around when Adams got the job and both transferred. Clarence Nadolny was another interesting case, many times he was no more than a role player, but he had been there for three years, and was vital in the win over Kansas, and Texas in Austin last season. Nadolny is currently back in France, for some unknown reasons. 

The signs for concern that were missed weren’t just from the players though. Barret Peery was the associate head coach for the 2022 Sweet Sixteen run, and well-known as a great recruiter, he was forced out and it was never really addressed. He’s gone to UNLV where he’s been able to successfully install his fast-paced offensive system, raising their PPG by 4.4 points, we never really saw that at Tech. Brought in for Peery was Adams’ old friend and long-time South Plains Head Coach Steve Green. Now Green’s resume certainly warranted this job, he turned South Plains College into a JUCO powerhouse, winning three NJCAA Titles, and was known for his offense. However, once again Texas Tech’s offense just didn’t look the part this season.


A major criticism of Adams this year was that he brought in his son Luke as the Director of Player Development, a non-coaching role. However, Luke did seem to have an outsized influence on coaching decisions this year, possibly over other assistant coaches at times such as Green and Pinkens. While it’s speculation a sign that may have been the case is that after Mark was suspended, he too wasn’t in Kansas City for the Big 12 Tournament. Now, this isn’t one of the biggest rumored scandals around Adams, but it was fairly obvious to people watching in the stands and on TV.

Much like the Matt Wells firing, recruiting High School players seemed to be a major sticking point with those concerned about the direction of the program. Currently, Texas Tech has the eighth-ranked Big 12 class in 247, with just Jason Jackson and Drew Steffe committed, and Steffe is one that always seemed like a lock to go to Texas Tech, even before the Adams hire. The two teams Texas Tech is currently above are TCU and West Virginia, West Virginia has no commits, and TCU has nine guys who averaged at least seven MPG in Big 12 play that can return. It’s true Texas Tech had four true Freshmen this season, and Jaylon Tyson as a transfer, but this tough season may have pushed him to a point where he wouldn’t recruit high schoolers anymore and focus on the portal instead. This seems to be confirmed when he said on a radio show in Lubbock that he wouldn’t build a team like this again, and that he wanted to recruit older.


Where Do They Go From Here?

Sure Texas Tech isn’t a Blue Blood, but it’s still a really good job, something it wasn’t when it hired Tubby Smith a decade ago. Texas Tech has a fair amount of historical success, excluding the past decade they made the Tournament 14 times, and Sweet Sixteen five times. In the past five years, they’ve reached four NCAA Tournaments, a Sweet Sixteen, Elite Eight, and National Title Game. Texas Tech also has a good NIL setup and was very likely in the top half, if not the top quarter, of the league in NIL spent this year. The money doesn’t just stop at players either as Chris Beard was at one point a top-five paid head coach in Lubbock. Add in they have a rabid fanbase that packs a really nice 15,000-seat stadium, is in the best basketball league, and is one of, if not the best practice facilities in the country. There’s a reason this job would be attractive to the vast majority of coaches out there.

It’s also vital they get this one right this time around, one of the pleasant surprises for Texas Tech fans is that relatively few players have actually hit the portal compared to what it likely would’ve been with Adams as coach. Sure Fardaws hit the portal from the team hotel in Kansas City, with a premade graphic he may have made on the bus ride from the stadium, then complained fans were mean after playing 11 games, and trying to transfer in December. I honestly doubt fans expected him back, or will miss him too much. Robert Jennings has entered the portal, with a return to Tech possible. Elijah Fisher, who deleted all mention of Texas Tech before becoming a good role player for Texas Tech once receiving minutes, still is likely to enter the portal, but the new coach seems to have a decent chance to keep him.

Ranking Priority For Texas Tech Players

Must Keep (both implied they’re staying)Pop Isaacs, Jaylon Tyson
Want to KeepLamar Washington, Robert Jennings, Elijah Fisher, KyeRon Lindsey (staying)
Could Go Either WayDaniel Batcho, De’vion Harmon
Okay If They GoD’Maurian Williams, KJ Allen, Kerwin Walton
GoneFardaws Aimaq, Kevin Obanor (Eligibility)

The Next Coach Is Critical

This next coaching hire is absolutely one Texas Tech must hit on, and the staff that surrounds him will be important too. Texas Tech has a four-man search committee consisting of AD Kirby Hocutt, Regent Dusty Womble, Head Football Coach Joey McGuire, and former player Norense Odiase. The first two were to be expected, but the inclusion of McGuire and Odiase signals that Tech is going all-in on culture with this hire. Some names have been tossed out, such as Grant McCasland (pass for me), Chris Jans, Barret Peery, Paul Mills, and Andy Kennedy. Many others will emerge, but those appear to be the first ones in mind already. 

There are also some long shots out there as well, could Jerome Tang be in play? I really doubt it, but that’s unlikely to stop them from trying. One name that was floated that I can guarantee won’t happen is Rick Pitino, there’s no chance Kirby Hocutt signs off on that, in fact, there’s a much greater chance, which isn’t saying much at all, that current Bulls Coach Billy Donovan is in play. No matter who Tech hires, the staff will also be important, while I don’t want Barret Peery as the Head Coach, he has a great relationship with Dusty Womble and would be a great addition to the staff. Al Pinkins is another guy Tech will want to retain, he’s likely being recruited by Chris Beard at Ole Miss, but Tech fans should feel good about their chances to keep him. While there’s no postseason basketball for Tech fans to watch, it’ll once again be a very eventful offseason to keep up with.

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