Now that the three players in the Texas Tech basketball program’s 2020 signing class have officially put pen to paper, Chris Beard is able to discuss his latest signees and here’s what he had to say.
Since the moment Chris Beard took the 2017-18 Texas Tech basketball team to the Elite Eight, the deepest NCAA Tournament run in school history at the time, Red Raider fans have been dreaming about what he might be able to accomplish with elite recruiting classes. We are about to find out.
That’s because, on Thursday, Beard and the Red Raiders welcomed the No. 5 ranked signing class in the nation and the top class in the Big 12 according to 247Sports. Trailing only Duke, North Carolina, Kentucky, and Tennessee in the class rankings, the Red Raiders have landed the best signing class in program history for the second-straight season after bringing in the No. 16 class in 2019.
The difference though is that the 2019 class was in part bolstered by its size. With seven additions, Tech’s 2019 class was one of the largest in the nation, which helped boost its overall ranking. That’s not to suggest that it was lacking high-end talent. After all, Jahmi’us Ramsey was the highest-rated player to ever sign with the program and Terrence Shannon Jr. was a top 70 recruit.
But the 2020 class is comprised of nothing but elite talent. The three-player class does not have any signees viewed as long-term projects or under-the-radar signings that might surprise the college basketball world.
Rather, this is a star-studded class consisting of 5-star guard Nimari Burnett from Chicago, the No 22 player in the nation and now the highest-rated signee in Texas Tech history, and a pair of 4-star jewels in Micah Peavy of Duncanville (No. 43 overall) and Chibuzo Agbo Jr. from San Diego (No. 119 overall).
We continue to talk about the evolution of this program under Beard’s guidance and that’s fitting on a day when Texas Tech announced itself as a true power on the recruiting trail. No longer is this a program that will have to rely on the development of overlooked or undervalued prospects who didn’t get an opportunity from the top programs in the nation.
Rather, Tech is walking in the highest of cotton these days. But in typical Beard fashion, he began Thursday’s press conference by paying respect to the players that helped get him to this point.
“The first group I wanted to recognize is all of our former players,” he said right off the bat. “Days like today wouldn’t be possible without those guys. When I think of signing a good player, I think of Keenan Evans’ contributions to this program. When we’re recruiting the next great player, I think about Jarrett Culver and what he did here. So recruiting, to me, is always about the program and some of the best recruiters you have are your former players.”
Sitting in between a row of pictures of former players from his time as head coach in Lubbock and large photos of the three newest signees, Beard was the symbolic link between them all. He knows as well as anyone what the success of his alums, specifically Culver and Zhaire Smith, has allowed him to accomplish on the recruiting trail.
The top players in the nation all have the same aspiration, to reach the NBA and to do so as quickly as possible. But until Zhaire Smith became the program’s first one-and-done player following the 2018 Elite Eight run, Tech had not produced a first-round draft pick since Tony Battie in 1997.
But with Smith and Culver now on his resume, Beard has two-straight lottery picks to point to and all the credibility he will need in the minds of elite recruits. To get that caliber of player to open his door to the Red Raiders, Beard had to develop a pair of unheralded 3-star prospects into first-rounders and now that he’s done that, his days of dabbling in the world of the diamonds in the rough could be over.
So let’s break down what the head coach had to say about each player in his masterpiece of a class and how they might benefit this program.