Texas Tech Basketball Fans Can Settle Down Now
Over the last two seasons, Texas Tech basketball fans have been begging for a true big man. TJ Holyfield and Marcus Santos-Silva played in the role over the last two seasons, with the latter returning for 2020-21, but few feel that the pair of players really filled the need.
Sure, Santos-Silva improved the rebounding numbers down low, particularly on the offensive end of the floor, but at 6'7", he doesn't get the benefit of the doubt a taller player would. He also didn't protect the rim, with just 32 blocks compared to Holyfield's 50.
The roster hole is amplified to the fanbase when they look at Texas Tech's back-to-back Elite 8 runs and see 6'10" Tariq Owens, 6'11" Tommy Hamilton, 6'8" Norense Odiase, and 6'8" Zach Smith on the rosters. When Hamilton, Odiase and Zach Smith were all on the roster together, it was 6'5" Zhaire Smith who led the team with 42 blocks.
To me, it's not the height that matters, but the production. A lot of people wanted Matt Haarms to transfer to Texas Tech when he left Purdue. I was not one of those people. His production did not match his hype. It's not that I prefer short basketball players; that's ridiculous. I'm just not enamored with 7-footers like most.
In that respect, I feel like I'm in the minority. Texas Tech fans have been absolutely begging for a big man, and they're getting their wish.
Mark Adams is signing a big man.
Daniel Batcho spent last year at Arizona, but didn't play for the Wildcats in 2020-21 due to an injury. He also missed the 2018-19 season with a knee injury while playing in his home country of France.
In between those two injuries, Batcho was named the MVP of the Adidas Next Generation Tournament in Belgrade back in February 2020 while averaging nearly 15 points, 11 rebounds and 2 blocked shots per game over the four-game showcase. In the championship game of the tournament, Batcho played 35 minutes and finished with 24 points, 15 rebounds, and three blocks.
His European style should fit nicely into Texas Tech's new style, but I don't expect him to play more than 10-15 minutes a game. Even with limited minutes, Batcho's potential is intriguing. The injuries are worrisome for a player that stands at 6'11", but by all accounts, Batcho was healthy enough to play last season but was held out because he "didn't know the plays," according to former Arizona coach Sean Miller.
Here is Batcho, post-surgery, throwing down a jam.
Still, Miller never pulled the trigger on playing Batcho at Arizona. Even after Miller said this this about the freshman: "He’s aggressive. He’s a very good defensive rebounder, adept at FIBA basketball where pick-and-roll and playing up and down, being able to defend pick-and-rolls, those are things that he’s been doing for a number of years. Hungry guy, a guy that loves the game."
Those all sound like great attributes for Coach Adams, who said in his first press conference that he wanted to play a more euro league-style. Batcho certainly doesn't look like he's a big man just for the sake of having a big on the roster like Malik Ondigo, Russell Tchewa, and Vladislav Goldin ended up being.
Batcho was named one of the top 30 international prospect coming to the NCAA from the guys at id-prospects.com. The scouting report has Batcho's recruitment to Texas Tech making even more sense with skills like excelling at defensive rotations, being impactful as a weak-side rim protector and having good timing and instincts on blocks. Offensively, I'm not sure how Batcho fits with the wide open offense we've been expecting from the new Red Raiders, but his skill as a screener and his ability to finish around the rim makes him more than a rebound and kick guy on the offensive end.
With the potential Batcho signing (he's not official yet), there are 12 players on the Red Raiders team. That leaves one spot for sure available on the 13-man roster give or take a scholarship or two with the COVID-19 seniors and returnees.