Texas Tech basketball: Without Davide Moretti, Kyler Edwards must take over

AMES, IA - FEBRUARY 22: Head coach Chris Beard of the Texas Tech Red Raiders coaches Kyler Edwards #0 of the Texas Tech Red Raiders from the bench in the first half of the play at Hilton Coliseum on February 22, 2020 in Ames, Iowa. The Texas Tech Red Raiders won 87-57 over the Iowa State Cyclones. (Photo by David K Purdy/Getty Images)
AMES, IA - FEBRUARY 22: Head coach Chris Beard of the Texas Tech Red Raiders coaches Kyler Edwards #0 of the Texas Tech Red Raiders from the bench in the first half of the play at Hilton Coliseum on February 22, 2020 in Ames, Iowa. The Texas Tech Red Raiders won 87-57 over the Iowa State Cyclones. (Photo by David K Purdy/Getty Images) /

In 2020-21,  Kyler Edwards must take over both on and off the court now that Davide Moretti is no longer in the Texas Tech basketball program.

It isn’t too much of a stretch to say that the Texas Tech basketball program now rests on the shoulders of Kyler Edwards.  After all, the departure of Davide Moretti means that there is a leadership void on the roster, and Edwards looks like the most logical candidate to step up.

This isn’t to suggest that Edwards will be expected to be the best player on the team next year from a statistical perspective, though he will have to be strong in that regard.  Rather, it is fair to suggest that Edwards will have to be the steadying presence his team will need both on the court and in the locker room.

That’s the beauty of college sports.  With players having just four years of eligibility, new leaders must constantly be in development for the moment when they are thrust into the role of the alpha male.

Such is where Edwards now finds himself.  He’s now got 68 appearances in a Red Raider uniform with 31 being starts, all of which came this past season.  Of course, six of those came in last year’s NCAA Tournament with two being in the Final Four, giving him the type of experience that only a select few players in the nation have.

Amazingly, the next most experienced player on the roster (in regard to appearances as a Red Raider) is Avery Benson, who has made 51 appearances, all off the bench.  And being as he’s averaged just 7.2 minutes per game in those contests, he is hardly going to be considered a stalwart next season.

Other than that, no other player set to be on next season’s team will have more games as a Red Raider under his belt than the 29 that both Kevin McCullar and Terrence Shannon Jr. amassed as freshmen in 2019-20.

Make no mistake, playing for Chris Beard is a unique experience.  The systems his teams run on both ends of the floor are unique as are the expectations he places on his players.

Thus, Edwards’ role as the player with the most experience under Beard and his coaching staff is now more invaluable than ever.  Beard has said over and over again that he values age on the roster and he has lost a grizzled senior-to-be in Moretti meaning that there will be just one senior on next year’s team, grad transfer Marcus Santos-Silva, who will be experiencing a significant learning curve himself.

Now that he’s a junior, Edwards is an upperclassman and he has to assume full responsibility for the team.  He took an important step in that process as a sophomore as he went from a backup guard to a starter who doubled his minutes per game.

However, at times this year, he was still a bit lacking when it came to vocal leadership on the court.  He also had too many moments of inconsistency and too many stretches in which he was not a player his team could count on.

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There were two different periods of the season in which he went at least three games without hitting double digits.  That included the final four games of the year, all of which the Red Raiders lost.

In fact, in some of the biggest games of the season, he was not able to help lift his team.  In a loss at West Virginia, he scored just nine points on 3-12 shooting.  He then had back-to-back 20-point games before scoring just nine points in Tech’s ugly loss at TCU.

Then, as Tech hit the skids in the last two weeks of the season, he averaged just six points per game while shooting just 22% from the floor as his team went 0-4.  That’s not good enough from a player that Tech counted so heavily on last season and it must not be what happens next year.

Also, Edwards has to get back to shooting the 3-pointer the way he did as a freshman when he hit 44.9% from deep.  Last season, his percentage from behind the arc fell to just 32.2% but with Moretti now off to the professional ranks, Edwards has to shoot somewhere around 40% given that Tech has lost it’s two top 3-point weapons from last season, Moretti and Jahmi’us Ramsey (assuming that the latter does stay in the NBA Draft as expected).

On a positive note, Edwards did show that he has the ability to be an all-conference player.  Against Kentucky, he had 18 big points and over the course of six games in February, he averaged 14.3 points-per-game.

The good news for Edwards is that he doesn’t have to be a one-man-band.  In fact, he will have as much talent around him next year as any player in Tech history has enjoyed.

Tech is supplementing the roster with the No. 9 overall recruiting class in the nation and the No. 1 class in the Big 12.  Also, Beard has already added one potential game-changing grad transfer in Santos-Silva and he’s trying to add more talent through the undergrad transfer market in either Mac McClung or Both Gatch.

What’s more, the talent that is returning is nothing to sneeze at.  Joel Ntambwe will be a huge addition after sitting out last year and both McCullar and Shannon could make massive strides in their second seasons. Also, don’t forget that super athletic forward Tyreek Smith, a former 4-star signee, will return from a broken foot that kept him out all of his true freshman season.

Next. Kyler Edwards' best games of 2019-20. dark

Still, Kyler Edwards might be the most important player on the roster now that Moretti has taken his game to the professional league in his native country.  He is a program guy, one who, since the moment he arrived, we have expected to see in Scarlet and Black for four years.  So if he is able to step up and become the Texas Tech basketball team’s next leader, he will not only elevate his status among his teammates but he will also become one of the most beloved players in the Beard era, especially if next year proves to be as special as we all think it might be.