Texas Tech basketball: Chris Beard says Vlad Goldin is no project

Texas Tech basketball head coach Chris Beard had glowing remarks about true freshman center Vlad Goldin who appears to be more than just a big-man project.

Over the last two Texas Tech basketball games, we’ve been able to get our first look at 7-foot-1 true freshman Vlad Goldin, who had been sidelined with a left wrist injury.  And quickly, the Russian native has become a fan favorite.

But that’s often the case with 7-footers.  They are so uncommon and so important in the game of college basketball that it becomes our natural inclination to obsess over them in the hopes that they become a dominant force in the paint.

That’s why everything that 7-footer Russell Tchewa did last year was magnified.  For instance, in the Kentucky game, he had a blocked shot and four points and when he departed the game, he received an ovation worthy of someone who had just dropped 30 points and pulled down 10 rebounds.

But Tchewa didn’t stick at Tech just like the two previous big men that Beard had brought in from Putnam Science Academy in Connecticut, Josh Mballa and Malik Ondigo, neither of whom made it past two years as a Red Raider before entering the transfer portal.  Of course, Beard went back to Putnam to find Goldin, the fourth big man he’s brought in from Putnam, and naturally, it made us all wonder if he was going to be another project like his predecessors from his alma mater.

But after Sunday’s victory over Grambling, Beard seemed to put that notion to bed by speaking glowingly of his 7-footer.  In fact, he went out of his way to say that Goldin is not a project.

“This is a 7-footer that moves around, shoots jump shots, making free throws,” Beard said. “He’s got a calmness to him and a demeanor.  Absolutely, he’s going to be a rim-protector for us, shot-blocker, deflections.  Talented young player…I think there’s a role for him on this year’s team on game night…this is a future pro…this is not a project type big…”

In his debut on Friday night, Goldin ended up with four points and three rebounds in six minutes of action against Troy.  He followed that up with six points, four rebounds, a block, and an assist against Grambling on Sunday afternoon.

While those performances came in garbage time and were certainly far from dominant, the skills he has displayed have been encouraging.  First of all, he’s 4-4 on the year at the free-throw line.  That’s an area where big men ofter struggle so the fact that Goldin has been solid there might be an indication that he has a nice shooting touch.

He has also shown nice hands and an ability to run the floor.  Both skills were on display when he finished a fast break with a dunk that saw him run the length of the court and receive a pass while in full stride.  Coordination like that is lacking for many true freshmen 7-footers when they arrive on campus.

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Moving forward, it will be interesting to see if Goldin starts to get more minutes and if his playing time begins to come prior to garbage time.  That would be an indication that he’s starting to earn a place in the regular rotation, which Tech likely needs him to do given that he’s the only player on the roster over 6-foot-7.

When Big 12 play begins, the Red Raiders are going to have to deal with some elite big men such as Oscar Tshiebwe and Derek Culver from West Virginia, Kai Jones from Texas, and Kevin Samuel of TCU just to name a few.  Thus, Goldin’s size could be invaluable in those matchups.

When Golding signed with Tech, many fans were skeptical about the fact that the program was bringing in another Putnamen big man.  That’s understandable given that the previous three that Tech signed from that school proved to be unable of helping the Red Raiders in their first year on campus.

But Goldin has the look of a big man who is going to be more than just a long-term project.  In fact, he might become an integral part of this year’s team as he gains more experience.

“We’re doing everything we can to develop him,” Beard said, “and at the same time, see if there’s a role where he can help us win some games this year.”

It’s hard to recall Beard ever saying the same of the other Putnam big men that he had in his program.  That’s why it feels like Goldin could be the first big man high school signee of the Beard era to turn into a key contributor.