Texas Tech basketball: 3-point ace Kerwin Walton commits to Red Raiders

Mar 16, 2022; Fort Worth, TX, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels guard Kerwin Walton (24) shoots during practice before the first round of the 2022 NCAA Tournament at Dickies Arena. Mandatory Credit: Chris Jones-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 16, 2022; Fort Worth, TX, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels guard Kerwin Walton (24) shoots during practice before the first round of the 2022 NCAA Tournament at Dickies Arena. Mandatory Credit: Chris Jones-USA TODAY Sports /

Monday, the Texas Tech basketball team may have put the finishing touches on its 2022-23 roster.  And the piece they added seems to be a telling indication of where this program is headed schematically.

North Carolina transfer shooting guard Kerwin Walton announced on social media that he will be joining the Red Raiders for the upcoming season.  That gives Mark Adams another potentially deadly outside shooter from 3-point range, something that is invaluable in the new offensive scheme of assistant coach Steve Green, who will be orchestrating Tech’s offensive attack this season after a lengthy and successful run as head coach of South Plains College.

For his career, Walton is a 39.9% shooter from beyond the arc.  He’s hit 81 career 3-pointers on 201 attempts thus giving Tech a reason to believe that the program will be much improved in that aspect of the game next season after being worst in the Big 12 in 3-point shooting percentage in conference games this past season.

In 60 career games at the college level, he’s had 15 in which he’s made at least three shots from beyond the arc.  And overall, he’s averaged 1.4 makes from long distance per outing.

But Tech is hoping that he returns to the form he showed as a freshman rather than repeating his performance from 2021-22.  Two seasons ago, Walton shot 42.0% from downtown making 58 three-point attempts.  For context, Kevin Obanor led last season’s Red Raiders with 48 makes from deep despite playing 357 more minutes than Walton played in his freshman campaign.

As a sophomore, Walton’s time on the floor fell off quite a bit and so too did his shooting, though he remained a far above-average marksman.  Playing almost eight minutes per game fewer than he did the previous season, Walton shot just 35.4% from 3-point range making only 23 shots from deep.

Of course, he will be expected to impact the game in other ways for the Red Raiders, especially on defense, which is not necessarily his calling card.  But make no mistake, Walton’s appeal is his ability to shoot the ball.  And his addition to the roster completes an offensive overhaul for Mark Adams’ program.

Last season, Tech essentially had just three above-average 3-point shooters, Obanor, Bryson Williams, and Terrence Shannon Jr.  Each of those players shot over 33% from distance while also making at least 33 attempts.   Of course, Obanor is the only one of that trio that will return for Tech next season meaning that the Red Raiders had to retool on the fly this offseason.  Now that they’ve added Walton, it is safe to say that Tech has amassed quite an impressive array of 3-point weapons.

Gardner-Webb transfer D’Maurian Williams is a career 38.8% shooter from beyond the arc who hit at a 39.3% clip as a sophomore last season.  He’s made 132 shots from outside in 57 career games at the college level.

Oregon transfer De’Vion Harmon has hit 119 career 3’s and is coming off a season in which he shot a career-best 36.7% from distance.  Even Utah Valley transfer big man Fardaws Aimaq is capable of stepping out and knocking down a 3 from time to time.  Last season, he averaged 1.4 attempts from deep per game making 43.5%.

Additionally, Texas transfer Jaylon Tyson, who joined the Red Raiders at the start of the spring semester, was a quality 3-point shooter at the high school level as was incoming freshman point guard Pop Isaacs.  The point is that we can expect the Red Raider offense to look vastly different next season.

This season, Tech made only 6.1 shots from deep per game.  That was good for only 299th in the nation.

Meanwhile, Green’s team at South Plains made 7.6 per game in 2021-22 while attempting 23.3 (Tech shot 18.9 per game last year).  To put that in perspective, Kansas State led the Big 12 by attempting 24.5 shots from deep per game this season while Baylor was second at 23.5.  No ther team in the league shot as many 3s as South Plains did at the JUCO level.

It will be fascinating to see how the transition to this new offensive system plays out for the Red Raiders next season.  After all, it’s been ages since Tech was considered a prolific 3-point shooting team.  But with players on the roster that can shoot it as well as Kerwin Walton can, Tech could completely change its offensive identity in the course of one offseason.