Texas Tech basketball: The top 25 Red Raiders in the Big 12 era

MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA - APRIL 08: Jarrett Culver #23 of the Texas Tech Red Raiders celebrates the play against the Virginia Cavaliers in the second half during the 2019 NCAA men's Final Four National Championship game at U.S. Bank Stadium on April 08, 2019 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA - APRIL 08: Jarrett Culver #23 of the Texas Tech Red Raiders celebrates the play against the Virginia Cavaliers in the second half during the 2019 NCAA men's Final Four National Championship game at U.S. Bank Stadium on April 08, 2019 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) /
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Boston Celtics’ Tony Battie (R) dunks the ball in front of Detroit Pistons’ Jerry Stackhouse (L) during the first quarter of the second game of their Eastern Conference semi-finals 08 May 2002 at the Palace of Auburn Hills, Michigan. AFP Photo/Jeff KOWALSKY (Photo by JEFF KOWALSKY / AFP) (Photo credit should read JEFF KOWALSKY/AFP via Getty Images)
Boston Celtics’ Tony Battie (R) dunks the ball in front of Detroit Pistons’ Jerry Stackhouse (L) during the first quarter of the second game of their Eastern Conference semi-finals 08 May 2002 at the Palace of Auburn Hills, Michigan. AFP Photo/Jeff KOWALSKY (Photo by JEFF KOWALSKY / AFP) (Photo credit should read JEFF KOWALSKY/AFP via Getty Images) /

No.10: Tony Battie

6-foot-11 Tony Battie had only one season playing in the Big 12 but what a season it was.  After averaging just 6.8 points and 6.6 rebounds per game over his first two years in Lubbock, the center exploded as a junior in 1996-97 (the inaugural season of Big 12 basketball) as he scored 18.8 points and pulled down 11.8 rebounds while blocking 2.5 shots per game.

That lone season of dominance was good enough to warrant his selection at No. 5 in the 1997 NBA Draft, which remains the highest any Red Raider has ever been drafted.  And he owes most of his success to a random act of genetics.

When he was recruited to Tech by James Dickey, the Dallas native was a run-of-the-mill 6-foot-7 wing player.  But a massive growth spurt the summer before he arrived on campus turned him into the towering presence that Tech fans remember.

Still, it took a while for him to figure out how to play as a big man.  At times early in his career, he looked lost as he tried to grasp the nuances of playing under the basket rather than on the perimeter.

But once it clicked, Battie became one of the nation’s best players.  And his 1996-97 season remains one of the top in Tech history.

His average of 18.9 points per game in league play that year have him at No. 2 on the all-time Red Raider p.p.g. career list for Big 12 play.  What’s more, his 303 points in Big 12 play are the 11th-most any Red Raider has ever scored.

Playing right around the rim and finishing with a ton of dunks, Battie shot 56% from the floor in Big 12 play that season, a program record.  And his 117 field goals, about half of which had to be dunks, rank tied for 5th most in a season in Big 12 play by a Red Raider.

Additionally, his 11.8 rebounds per game in league play are a record for any Texas Tech basketball player.  So too are his 45 blocks in Big 12 play that season.

For one season, Tony Battie might have been the most dominant big man Tech has ever had.  But because his run of excellence was just one year and because he played only one season of Big 12 basketball, he doesn’t rank as high on this list as he would have had he put together multiple seasons of destroying the Big 12.