New-look Texas Tech will look to show it’s worth its No. 25 preseason ranking when the Red Raiders battle visiting Northwestern State (La.) on Monday in the teams season opener in Lubbock, Texas.
If last year’s performance was any harbinger, the Red Raiders will only get stronger as the season progresses.
Texas Tech is in serious rebuilding mode after finishing 27-10 last season, winning all 18 of its home games and reaching the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament.
Coach Mark Adams returns for his second season after guiding Texas Tech to the nation’s top defensive efficiency rating in 2021-22.
The Red Raiders return only three players from last season and are led by Kevin Obanor, who started all 37 games and is an All-Big 12 Preseason Honorable Mention selection. Obanor recorded double-doubles in each of the team’s three NCAA Tournament games.
Forwards Daniel Batcho and KJ Allen also return from last year.
“We’re very young. We’ve got five true freshmen. And we’ve got seven underclassmen,” Adams said. “Our biggest challenge for our coaching staff is to get these guys thinking older and playing older and playing with some maturity. We were very, very selective on who to bring in and did our due diligence to find the right guys that had the attitude that wanted to be coached.”
Guards Kerwin Walton and Jaylon Tyson arrive from North Carolina and Texas, respectfully.
The Red Raiders also landed one of the best centers in the portal, Fardaws Aimaq from Utah Valley, who was a two-time WAC Defensive Player of the Year on top of averaging 18.9 points and 13.6 rebounds last season.
In the backcourt, point guard De’Vion Harmon comes from Oregon after starting his career at Oklahoma. D’Maurian Williams enters as a shooting guard from Gardner-Webb.
Even with all the added talent, Texas Tech was only picked to finish fifth in the Big 12 Preseason Coaches’ Poll.
Northwestern State was 9-23 last year and lost in the first round of the Southland Conference Tournament after finishing sixth in the regular season. The Demons have been picked by the league’s coaches to finish in the same spot this season in coach Corey Gipson’s first year at the helm.
Gipson comes to Natchitoches, La., from Missouri State, where he spent the past six seasons as associate head coach.
The Demons return just three players from last year’s team, led by swingman Cedric Garrett, the squad’s third-leading scorer at 7.6 points per game.
Ja’Monta Black and Isaac Haney transferred from Missouri State to try to fortify the guard spot, and 7-foot-3 center Jordan Wilmore comes in from Missouri to man the pivot.
After playing Texas Tech, Northwestern State will also battle TCU, Baylor and Texas A&M on the road.
“We put our minds together as a staff, and we think the challenge at hand is best for the group we have on the roster,” Gipson said. “We have a group who works very hard, so we feel they’re up for the task.”–Field Level Media