Texas Tech basketball: Red Raiders in top 3 for transfer Matt Haarms

WEST LAFAYETTE, IN - DECEMBER 04: Matt Haarms #32 of the Purdue Boilermakers celebrates during a game against the Virginia Cavaliers at Mackey Arena on December 4, 2019 in West Lafayette, Indiana. Purdue defeated Virginia 69-40. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
WEST LAFAYETTE, IN - DECEMBER 04: Matt Haarms #32 of the Purdue Boilermakers celebrates during a game against the Virginia Cavaliers at Mackey Arena on December 4, 2019 in West Lafayette, Indiana. Purdue defeated Virginia 69-40. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /

Tuesday, 7-foot-3 grad transfer center Matt Haarms cut his list of schools to three and the Texas Tech basketball team remains in the mix.

Arguably the most coveted grad transfer still on the market and the top remaining target of the Texas Tech basketball program, Matt Haarms, has narrowed his list to three schools and the Red Raiders are still in the mix according to multiple reports, including a Tweet from basketball inside Jeff Goodman.  Whether or not Chris Beard can close the deal will be one of the biggest developments of the offseason.

The 7-foot-3 center is also reportedly still considering Kentucky and BYU after having over 45 teams to pick from when he entered the transfer portal just over two weeks ago.  Should he decide to come to Lubbock for his last year of college basketball, it’s not hard to see how he would immediately improve what’s already expected to be the most talented roster Beard has assembled.

After losing both of the program’s top two rebounders from last year, Chris Clarke (6.6 per game) and T.J. Holyfield (4.5 per game), Beard needs to add size to his team.  What’s more, he also needs to find a way to replace the 1.6 blocks per game he got from Holyfield.

Haarms can help fill that void because he can score, block shots, and do some work on the glass (though he’s not as great of a rebounder as one might expect given his size).  This past year, he averaged 8.6 points, 4.6 rebounds and two blocks per game for Purdue in the Big 10.

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It’s also worth considering the invaluable experience he would bring to the table.  As a freshman, he played in the Sweet 16 where his team was eliminated by Texas Tech, and as a sophomore, he helped his team reach the Elite Eight before falling to Virginia in a wild shootout.

Beard has always contended that seniors bring with them an unreplicable set of intangibles given their savvy and desire to make the most of their last go-round in the college game.  That’s why such players as Keenan Evans, Justin Gray, Norense Odiase, and Brandone Francis have been so critical to the success of the Red Raider program during Beard’s tenure.

However, next year this only one player on the current roster set to be a senior, Davide Moretti.  Thus, Beard was always expected to try to add at least one grad transfer to bring some extra experience to the table but after offering a number of big men and point guards, he is still searching.

He did help bring more size to his roster by landing 6-foot-10 JUCO forward Esahia Nywie from Clarendon College.  However, the departure of 7-footer Russel Tchewa has necessitated the need to add another big man this offseason and it appears that Beard has set his sights on one of the biggest players in the nation.

At 7-foot-3, Haarms is six inches taller than any player in last year’s regular rotation.  Hopefully, he and Nywie can help the Red Raiders be more competitive on the glass in 2020-21 than they were in the recently-canceled season when teams often took advantage of their lack of size inside.

Some Tech fans still have less than stellar memories of Haarms from when he faced Tech in the 2018 Sweet 16.  That night, he had four points, two blocks, and three rebounds in 23 minutes while drawing quite a bit of attention for constantly pushing his pompadour out of his face.

That performance was far from a strong representation of what he has become as a player though.  After all, at that time, he was just a true freshman and he was thrust into the starting lineup by an injury to fellow 7-foot center Isaac Hass, who was unable to play due to an elbow injury.

In reality, Haarms is a fierce competitor who plays with an edge and who possesses a firey side.  Players of that ilk were noticeably absent from the Red Raider roster this past season and would be a welcome addition.

He’s also more than capable of hitting shots in the mid-range game.  That’s an essential skill that any player in Beard’s motion offense will have to possess.

Also, Red Raider fans need to remember that Haarms would not need to be a 15-point scorer every night.  Next year’s team will have plenty of players capable of putting up points including Moretti, Kyler Edwards, Terrence Shannon Jr., Kevin McCullar, and Joel Ntambwe.  Also, the three freshmen Tech has signed, Nimari Burnett, Micah Peavy, and Chibuzo Ago are all expected to be significant contributors in that regard.

But as the old adage goes, you can’t coach height.  Thus, a player of Haarms’ stature would help complete the 2020-21 roster and give Tech perhaps the one piece it was already missing.  Hopefully, Beard can close the deal on this grad transfer because if he does, Tech will likely enter next season as a top-10 team and a trendy National Title pick.