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Led by Mark Adams, Texas Tech basketball enters a new era unapologetically competitive

With Adams as its new architect, Texas Tech basketball’s puzzle is starting to come together.

On April 1, shockwaves were sent through the college basketball world when news broke that Chris Beard was leaving Lubbock and heading to the University of Texas.

What followed was the typical college basketball ripple effect: a mass exodus of players from the roster. But after only five days of tribulation, native West Texan and beloved Texas Tech assistant coach Mark Adams was named head coach. After his hiring, there was another ripple effect, but this time it was in the opposite direction.

“When he [Adams] got the coaching job, I called him and said ... I’m 100% on board with him,” junior guard Kevin McCullar when speaking at Big 12 media day.

“When he got the head coaching job, it was an easy decision for me.”

McCullar was the first player to re-up his commitment to Texas Tech basketball and Adams, posting the announcement on Twitter just minutes after news broke about Adams. By the time the offseason was over, Adams had retained three of the team’s top-five scorers from a season before.

“It was easy to get the guys back on deck because they love Texas Tech,” Adams said about his returning players.

One of the key returners is junior wing Terrence Shannon Jr., who averaged 12.9 points per game last season. Shannon entered into the NBA draft, but eventually decided to withdraw and play what will likely be his last year of college basketball for Adams. Assuming the role as one of this team’s leaders has driven Shannon’s development over the past few months.

“He’s improved everywhere,” McCullar said on Shannon. “He’s been working hard on shooting, dribbling, finishing, and of course, playing defense.”

Even as Adams successfully retained some of last year’s marquee players, he filled the gaps on his roster with some of the transfer portal’s top talent. Oral Roberts transfer Kevin Obanor broke onto the college basketball scene in last year’s NCAA Tournament, averaging 23.3 points and 11.0 rebounds per game while pulling off upsets against Ohio State and Florida. Now as a member of the Big 12, Obanor will have the opportunity to showcase that talent all season on one of college basketball’s biggest stages.

“To have a big guy that can shoot the ball like him, it opens up the floor,” Adams said of Obanor, who shot 46.3% on over four 3-point attempts per game.

“He’ll be a key ingredient to the success we have this year.”

Obanor is one of eight transfers on this year’s Texas Tech team, many of whom were lead guys at their previous program. With so many players who were accustomed to having the green light before now entering a team with this much depth, there’s going to be a learning curve. Adams mentioned his team is still meshing and finding their chemistry. But one thing is certain, the Red Raiders don’t care what the cost is — they want to win.

“There’s going to be some sacrifices this year,” McCullar said on running the offense of this year’s team. “We all know that and we all want to win.”

Despite the necessary time it takes for a team to come together, Adams remains confident that his due diligence in the recruiting process paid off.

“We think we have the right guys and the right fit,” Adams said about his newcomers. “We’re excited about the progress.”

Progress is a great way to simply summarize this transition for Texas Tech basketball. Even after all the notable changes happening off the court, the team is still shifting things around on the court. The team is still trying to fill the gap at point guard, arguably the most important position on offense.

“We don’t really have a true point guard,” Adams said about his roster. “We’ll probably have two or three combo guards on the floor at the same time.”

October practices have been a petri dish to experiment with change. One of the most notable adjustments has been moving McCullar to point guard, a position he originally intended to play at Texas Tech when he committed. The results have seemingly been positive.

“That was my position growing up . . . I’m going to be playing the point guard this year,” McCullar said confidently.

Even with all the change that’s happened, that’s happening and that will happen, there’s room for confidence around this Texas Tech team. It’s returned some of its most important guys. It’s added some of the most notable guys that were in the transfer portal. But most of all, Texas Tech has its guy.

“My destination was always to get back to Texas Tech,” Adams said. “It is a dream come true for me.”

Find more Texas Tech coverage from The Dallas Morning News here.

Ryan Mainville, Texas Tech Red Raiders blogger. Covers Texas Tech sports for The Dallas Morning News.

rc.mainville@gmail.com @RMainvilleLBK
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