According to college basketball insider Jeff Goodman, the Texas Tech basketball program has been one of the offseason’s biggest winners in regard to the transfer market.
It’s become trendy to try to pick winners and losers during any sport’s offseason. That has now the norm with recruiting at the college level and drafting in the pro ranks as friendly neighborhood bloggers and content creators try to make it through the months with no games. And now, a new market has emerged to give us winners and losers; the transfer portal. Fortunately, that’s an area where many believe the Texas Tech basketball program is capitalizing.
In fact, according to Jeff Goodman of Stadium, the Red Raiders are the nation’s second-biggest winners in this year’s transfer portal feeding frenzy trailing only Minnesota. That’s not surprising to see given that Chris Beard and his program landed three of the top available talents.
Of Texas Tech, Goodman writes, “This one is almost an annual ritual now. A couple of seasons ago, Matt Mooney and Tariq Owens helped get the Red Raiders to the national title game. Last season, it was TJ Holyfield and Chris Clarke who came in and made plays. Chris Beard will now add Georgetown transfer Mac McClung (15.7 ppg) and Wichita State’s Jamarius Burton (10.3 ppg) — who could wind up getting waivers. The Red Raiders also added a key grad transfer on the frontline in hard-playing VCU forward Marcus Santos-Silva (12.8 ppg, 8.9 rpg).
But while no one is disputing how much talent the Red Raiders have added, there is a huge potential fly in the ointment. As Goodman notes, Tech will need the NCAA to grant waivers to both McClung and Burton if either hopes to play this year. For what it’s worth, Beard has said that he expects Burton to sit out this year and not apply for immediate eligibility.
You’ll have to forgive Tech fans for being a little bit cynical about trusting the NCAA to do right by a player and give him immediate eligibility. After all, we just went through the Joel Ntambwe saga this past season.
For that that may not have been following along as closely as others, Ntambwe is a talented forward who transferred to Tech from UNLV last offseason after the Runnin’ Rebels fired their head coach, Marvin Menzies.
In fact, he was one of five UNLV players to leave the program as underclassmen last year. But he was the only one of those who did not receive a waiver from the NCAA.
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The reason many believe that Ntambwe was three times denied by the eligibility board is the grudge UNLV holds towards Beard and Tech after Beard shunned UNLV to come to Lubbock despite being on the job in Vegas for less than a month in 2016. Thus, it has been rumored that the administrators at UNLV did everything in their power to prevent Ntambwe from being granted a waiver.
If true, that’s sad and pathetic given that Ntambwe was still just a high schooler when Beard had his brief stint in the desert as head coach. But the lesson we learned is that the NCAA can’t be trusted, even if a player seems to have a legitimate case for the granting of a waiver.
Now, Tech is putting its season in the hands of that same process and the same review board. Make no mistake, McClung is a key component of what Beard hopes to do this season and should he be ruled ineligible, it will have a huge impact on a team that has to replace last year’s top two scorers, Jahmi’us Ramsey and Davide Moretti.
McClung is the perfect fit offensively for what Tech needs. He is a brazen player who loves the huge moment and who has never met a clutch shot he didn’t think he could make. He’s a closer and that’s what Tech didn’t have this past season as time and again Beard saw his team wet itself when games were on the line in the closing seconds.
Without McClung, Tech may still have a closer in 5-star freshman Nimari Burnett, the program’s first-ever McDonald’s All-American. But asking a freshman to carry that type of responsibility is far from ideal.
The dynamic McClung appears to have a decent case for a waiver. He reportedly did not see eye-to-eye with his former head coach, Patrick Ewing, and the final straw may have been when the Georgetown head coach overstepped his bounds and publically said on a podcast that McClung was going to withdraw from the NBA Draft before the player himself had actually made that decision. McClung feels such remarks hurt his potential draft stock.
“”It was a number of different events that made me feel I had no choice but to transfer from Georgetown,” McClung told ESPN. “I really wanted to stay, but things throughout my career made me realize that I couldn’t…The podcast with Andy Katz was not the deciding factor to my decision to transfer. I think it affected my pre-draft process, and seemed to confuse a lot of teams.”
For Goodman’s proclamation of Tech being a huge winner in the transfer portal to be true in 2020-21, the NCAA has to do right by McClung (and possibly Burton) as well as the Texas Tech basketball program. Only then will we truly be able to feel as if the work Beard did in this new avenue of talent acquisition is worth celebrating right away.