Texas Tech basketball: Injury to Devan Cambridge a worst-case scenario

Texas Tech's forward Devan Cambridge (35) puts a brace on his left knee during the non-conference basketball game against Omaha, Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2023, at United Supermarkets Arena.
Texas Tech's forward Devan Cambridge (35) puts a brace on his left knee during the non-conference basketball game against Omaha, Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2023, at United Supermarkets Arena. /

In Wednesday night’s win over Omaha, any excitement surrounding the Texas Tech basketball team’s sixth victory of the year was tempered by concern over an injury sustained by forward Devin Cambridge.  On Thursday, we learned that the Red Raiders and Grant McCasland are now facing a worst-case scenario as Cambridge is going to miss the remainder of the season.

"“Devan has been a tremendous person and teammate since he arrived,” Texas Tech coach Grant McCasland said. “It’s a devastating injury for him and our program. He is still going to make a significant impact on our team this year through his leadership. I’m extremely confident that he will come back even stronger from this injury and is going to have a bright future.”"

According to the basketball program, the fifth-year senior who transferred to Tech this offseason from Arizona State would be eligible to apply for a medical redshirt allowing him to return next season should he desire to.

This news severely damages McCasland’s rotation and depth with just five games remaining until Big 12 play begins.  Cambridge is fourth on the team in minutes played per game (26) and third on the team in points per game (10.5) and rebounds per game (4.5).

Of course, he has been invaluable as a jack-of-all-trades who has started at the small forward position but who has played center for Tech when Warren Washington is on the bench.  Despite being only 6-foot-6, Cambridge proved to be athletic enough to check bigger players on the opposing team and when Tech went small, he was particularly effective as the biggest player on the floor for the Red Raiders.

Now, Tech will not only have to replace a starter but also, the reserve rotation will have to be adjusted.  One move that we already saw was the season debut of KyeRon Lindsay.

The transfer from Georgia who joined the program in January of 2023 is a true sophomore who has loads of potential.  But because of Cambridge’s presence, the plan was to try to red-shirt Lindsay, a player whose game most resembles Cambridge’s as far as the members of the current roster are concerned.

At 6-foot-8, he’s actually taller than Cambridge making one believe that he could provide some of what Cambridge brought to the table from a physical standpoint.  However, having played in only 11 career games, he doesn’t have the type of savvy that Cambridge does given that the latter has played in 135.

After the game on Wednesday, McCasland praised Lindsay for his work this year despite not playing.  However, he did point out that the Denton, Texas native is not where the program wants him to be defensively, an area that was one of Cambridge’s specialties.

Now, the question that has to be asked is whether Lindsay will slide into the starting lineup.  That would be the most logical option given his skill set.  What’s more, he did start eight games last year for the Bulldogs.

If Lindsay doesn’t start, does forward Robert Jennings?  Also a true sophomore, he has looked out of sorts this year and has not played more than nine minutes in any game thus far.  It is hard to imagine Jennings being able to log the type of minutes that Cambridge was logging and his game does not look like Cambridge’s given that he is not nearly as explosive of an athlete.

McCasland might decide to slide Chance McMillan into the starting five and play what would essentially be a four-guard lineup.  That would mean giving up some considerable size, though, given that McMillan is just 6-foot-2, four inches shorter than Cambridge.  Also, this move would considerably deplete Tech’s bench scoring given that McMillan is the team’s leading offensive option off the bench at 8 points per game.

The point is that this news is the worst that Tech could have braced for after Wednesday night.  In fact, it could be argued that Cambridge was the second-most irreplaceable player on the roster behind only Warren Washington.

Cambridge was brought to Lubbock to be a leader on and off the court and he was growing into that role.  He had four double-digit scoring games in a row prior to the Omaha game and he was starting to assert himself as he appeared to be growing more comfortable with his role on this team.

Now, he leaves a huge hole to fill and that task will likely be dispersed across the roster with Lindsay getting plenty of opportunities to help out.  This will be a test of this roster’s depth and this coaching staff’s ability to adapt on the fly.  It will be fascinating to see what Grant McCasland and Co. figure out after losing the most versatile player on the team.