Chance McMillan stepping up at the right time for Texas Tech basketball team

As Big 12 play heats up, Texas Tech guard Chance McMillan is stepping up at just the right time.
Brigham Young v Texas Tech
Brigham Young v Texas Tech / John E. Moore III/GettyImages

Last offseason, when the college basketball transfer portal was in a frenzy, not many people around the nation noticed when Grand Canyon guard Chance McMillan committed to Texas Tech. However, that portal pickup by Grant McCasland is proving to be one of the best moves any Big 12 team made last spring.

It wasn't that McMillan was a poor player before coming to Tech. After all, he averaged 10.9 points and 3.1 rebounds per game a season ago.

What's more, he had just come off of a 16-point game against Gonzaga in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. That was one of 19 double-digit scoring games he put up that season. However, because he was a small-school player, few considered him a jewel of the transfer portal class.

This year, though, McMillan has been even better than advertised, especially considering the level of competition he's facing in the Big 12. However, he didn't find his footing as a Red Raider until the middle of the season.

In his first nine appearances this year, he scored over 10 points only twice. However, both of those games were impressive. He posted 17 points against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and 24 points on the road at Butler, a game in which he sank eight 3-pointers.

Something changed for McMillan, though, starting with the December 16 game against Vanderbilt in Fort Worth. That day, he scored 14 points and had three rebounds and three steals in an easy Red Raider win.

From that moment, Tech has seen McMillan reach double figures in eight of the last eleven games. That's been important because he's been Tech's only scoring option off the bench.

What's more, in his last three games, he's playing the best basketball of his career. Against BYU he had 14 points in the Red Raiders' impressive comeback.

Then, the Red Raiders got a career-high 27 points from McMillan in Norman as they squeaked out a one-point win over the Sooners. Then, he followed that up with 19 points on Tuesday night against TCU.

Averaging 20 points per game in that stretch, he's been a deadly outside shooter. In fact, he's made a combined 12 of 19 shots from 3-point range (63.2%).

What makes this three-game run all the more interesting is that it came on the heels of a terrible three games from the California native. Against Oklahoma State, Kansas State, and Houston, McMillan scored a total of just 15 points and was 2-10 from beyond the arc.

Now, the Red Raiders need McMillan to continue to be an offensive weapon off the bench. That's because he's become this team's second-best scorer in recent games.

Joe Toussaint is in the midst of a run that's seen him score over 10 points just once in the last four games. That included a six-point, eight-turnover showing against TCU on Tuesday night.

Also, Kerwin Walton isn't in a good way lately either. After a high-scoring run against non-Big 12 teams, the former North Carolina transfer has had only two double-digit scoring games in seven conference games.

Then, there is Darrion Williams, who has also seen his scoring dip. The sophomore who transferred in from Nevada has not scored over seven points in his last four games.

Thus, someone has had to join leading scorer, Pop Isaacs, as an offensive weapon for the Red Raiders and that's what McMillan has done. He's playing the role of a starter without officially starting.

Though he comes off the bench, he is a player that Grant McCasland turns to in order to close out games and that's far more important. Now, it will be critical for McMillan to stay hot because the Red Raiders are going to need his scoring touch given that the other players McCasland brings off the bench, Lamar Washington and Robert Jennings, struggle mightily to score.

If McMillan can stay locked in, perhaps Toussaint or Walton can rediscover their scoring touch to give Tech a third offensive threat at the guard spot. If that happens, a team that's been surprisingly efficient on offense this year could find another gear just in time for the stretch run of Big 12 play.