It appears that new Texas Tech basketball head coach Grant McCasland might be a natural closer. Thus far in his time in Lubbock, if McCasland has been able to get a recruit to visit the South Plains, he’s been able to seal the deal helping him put together a formidable roster in his first offseason in charge.
That trend continued again on Tuesday when West Virginia transfer guard Joe Toussaint announced his intention to sign with the Red Raiders effectively putting a bow on the roster for 2023-24.
A New York City native, Toussaint has only one year of eligibility remaining after starting his career at Iowa in 2019-20 before transferring to West Virginia last season. Now, with the recent resignation of former WVU head coach Bob Huggins, Toussaint has decided to call West Texas home for one season as he hopes to make his mark for a second Big 12 program.
To find out about Toussaint’s stats, you can read this preview of his visit to Lubbock last week. However, let’s now turn our focus to what this roster looks like with all 13 scholarships now filled.
What stands out are two important observations. First, this is a roster that is not very tall. While there is nice height and length at the wing positions, there is only one player (Arizona State transfer Warren Washington) on the team who is over 6-foot-8.
That is because the Red Raiders decided not to take a chance on Washington State transfer Dishon Jackson, a 6-foot-10 big man who committed to Tech last month but who the coaching staff decided to pass on because of concerns over his health. The scholarship he was going to fill now belongs to the 6-foot Toussaint meaning this team will have to play some small ball when Washington is not on the court.
Secondly, this team is being built with depth in mind, rather than star power. No player in the mix for next season was anywhere near being an All-American last season if even an all-conference performer. Sure, Tech swung for the fences with some of the bigger names in the portal this offseason but ultimately, the players that McCasland was able to land were primarily role players for their previous teams.
Right now, sophomore guard Pop Isaacs (one of the few returnees from last season’s Red Raider squad) is as close to a proven reliable scoring threat as this roster can boast. But his 11.5-point-per-game scoring average from last season is far from what other programs are bringing to the table from their leading scorers this season.
Still, Tech will have an abundance of players who might be able to score in double-digits on any given night. After all, Arizona State transfer Devan Cambridge, his friend Washington, Grand Canyon transfer guard Chance McMillan, Nevada transfer wing Darrion Williams, and Toussaint all averaged at least 7.6 points per game this past season.
Thus, the scoring load will almost certainly be evenly distributed across the roster, which will be an interesting turn of events from what we witnessed last season when if Isaacs, De’Vion Harmon, or Jaylon Tyson weren’t scoring big, the team struggled.
It will also be a summer of competition in Lubbock. With only Washington assured of a starting spot given the unique size he brings to the table, McCasland will have to sort out how he wants to assemble his rotation. Fortunately, he has options.
Cambridge, Williams, and Georgia transfer Kyeron Lindsay could all start on the wings. Isaacs, McMillan, and Toussaint each have the talent to be a starter in the backcourt.
What’s more, there are questions to be answered in the post such as, will McCasland insert true sophomore Robert Jennings into the starting lineup given his strength and wide frame despite how little Jennings played last season? After all, Jennings is the only prototypical power forward on this roster. Still, he was able to muster only 2.7 points and 1.9 boards per game in 2022-23.
That and other questions are still to be sorted out but what we do know after Tuesday’s news is that this roster is now set. McCasland has built an impressive team given the challenges that most first-year coaches face in their transition year at a new program.
Now, the countdown until November begins in earnest for Texas Tech basketball fans. Thankfully this year, though, we appear to have an intriguing football season to enjoy before that, and what a refreshing development that is as it will make the wait until the return of Red Raider basketball go by much more quickly.