Texas Tech basketball: Red Raiders make the cut for 5-star forward

Tuesday, the Texas Tech basketball program made the top five for 5-star power forward Damion Collins, one of the nation’s most elite big men.

Texas Tech is facing some familiar foes when it comes to the top target on their 2021 recruiting board.  Tuesday, 6-foot-9 forward Damion Collins from Atlanta, TX released his top five schools and included among them is Chris Beard’s program.

But to win this battle, the Red Raiders will have to fend off challenges from the likes of Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Kentucky, all of whom Tech faced in the 2019-20 season.  Of course, that’s a list that includes three Big 12 rivals meaning that there’s a great chance that Red Raider fans will see plenty of Collins regardless of if he decides to bring his game to the South Plains.

Rated as the No. 19 player in the nation and the No. 2 player in Texas, the freakishly athletic 210-pounder has the potential to be a transformational player for a college program, even if he is just a one-and-done player.  In fact, his scouting report might cause Tech fans to have flashbacks to a  Red Raider great who spent only a year in Lubbock, Tariq Owens.

“Quite thin but has long arms and is quick off the floor as an explosive leaper,” writes Jerry Meyer of 247Sports.com. “Highly mobile with good hands. Finishes with strength around rim and can score facing. Has potential to greatly improve as a face up player. Defensively, is a high level shot blocker who can also move his feet on perimeter. Can also rebound outside his area. Raw offensively in general but has great potential.”

Right now, Oklahoma appears to have an edge in the pursuit of this prized target.  That’s in part because Collins has played his AAU ball for a team sponsored by former Sooner Blake Griffin.  Also, the Sooners have already landed a commitment from Collins’ close friend Bijan Cortes, a 3-star guard from Oklahoma.

Also, Kentucky has gained major traction in this race after adding assistant coach Jai Lucas to Jonh Calipari’s staff.  Previously, Lucas had been on Shaka Smart’s staff at Texas and at that time, it was thought that his close relationship with Collins had the Longhorns leading the pack.

But perhaps Beard can sell Collins on the idea of being the next Tariq Owens in Lubbock.  Tech is always going to look to be adding some shot-blocking given how critical that skill is to the defensive scheme that the Red Raiders like to deploy and Collins would be a perfect fit in that regard.

When Owens, who set the program record for blocks in a season with 92, was anchoring the Red Raider defense in 2018-19, the Red Raiders had the top defense in the nation in terms of points allowed per 100 possessions.  But last season, without a true rim protector on the court, Tech’s defense fell to ninth nationally, which wasn’t bad but it was an increase of over six points allowed per 100 possessions.

So keep an eye on Damion Collins’ recruitment.  Right now, it appears that Tech might be playing from behind in this battle but the fact that they remain in the hunt is significant news and we all know, there’s no better closer in the nation than Chris Beard.