Typically, the summer months are a wasteland for college sports fans. However, the advent of “The Basketball Tournament” or “TBT” has given fans from schools around the nation an opportunity to see some of their former favorites take the court together again. Today, the Air Raiders, a group of former Texas Tech standouts, will take a shot at bringing home the $1 million grand prize for winning the 64-team single-elimination event as they entertain what is expected to be a large crowd in Lubbock.
Coached by veteran NBA assistant and Lamesa native Jason Staudt (also a Texas Tech graduate) as well as assistants Gino Saucedo, Robert Brashear, Ronald Ross, and Ross Rushing, this is an intriguing mix of players who had varying experiences in Lubbock.
Fans will be thrilled to see players who spent their entire college careers in Lubbock suit up to represent Tech (in an unofficial capacity that is) once again. Seeing Toddrick Gotcher, John Roberson, Zach Smith, Davide Moretti, Jordan Tolbert, and Dejan Kravic return will bring back some great memories as those multi-year program stalwarts were a huge part of Texas Tech hoops during their time on the South Plains.
Meanwhile, it will also be a joy to see players who only spent one year as Red Raiders get another chance to play in front of the Lubbock faithful. Most notable among that group will be Matt Mooney and Tariq Owens, two grad transfers who starred on the 2018-19 squad that reached the National Championship Game and became beloved in West Texas in the process.
Don’t sleep on Davion Warren though. In fact, the guard who helped Tech reach the 2022 Sweet 16 comes into this event as one of the players the Air Raiders will count on for scoring after he averaged 27.5 points per game in two outings in last year’s TBT. Like Mooney and Owens, Warren spent just one season in Lubbock and frankly, he didn’t display the type of scoring punch as a Red Raider that he showed last summer for the Air Raiders (though in 2021-22 he did manage to average 9.4 points per game for Tech).
Then there is the interesting case of Kyler Edwards who returns to play in Lubbock after leaving the program following the 2020-21 season to play his last season of college basketball at Houston where he helped the Cougars reach the Elite 8. Though he did defect to an in-state program that is rather unpopular with Red Raider fans, expect the Lubbock faithful to welcome Edwards back with open arms tonight at United Supermarkets Arena.
It will be the first year that Lubbock has the opportunity to be a host site for the first three rounds of TBT. Seeded as the top team in the Lubbock portion of the bracket, the Air Raiders will open with a game against No. 8 seed Purple Hearts, a team made up of players not from one school but who played at various mid-major programs during their NCAA days. The mission of Purple Hearts is to bring awareness to gun violence.
Also playing in the Lubbock regional will be Bleed Green (comprised of North Texas alums), HBCUnited (a team made up entirely of players from historically black colleges and universities), The Enchantment (mainly players who played at New Mexico and New Mexico State), Austin’s Own (comprised mainly of Texas Longhorn alums), In The Lab (a team of players from all over the NCAA map), and Rise and Grind (mainly D2, D3, and NAIA players with only three players with D-1 experience).
The home team will headline the nightcap tonight with an estimated tip time of 8 p.m. CST. The game can be seen on ESPN+ and will certainly give Red Raider fans some good vibes as we watch some of the most beloved players in program history return to do battle in Lubbock once again.