Perhaps no team in college basketball has a greater range of possible outcomes than Texas Tech — the product of a coaching staff and roster that enter the 2021-22 season mostly unproven in their current roles.
Texas Tech promoted assistant Mark Adams after Chris Beard left for the Texas job in the offseason, and while Adams deserves immense credit for developing Texas Tech's clever "no-middle" defensive scheme — it's been so effective that other schools like Baylor and Kansas have copied parts of it — he still faces major questions as a 65-year-old with previous head-coaching success at lower levels but not in Division I.
The Red Raiders' rotation also is difficult to project outside of mainstays Terrence Shannon Jr., Kevin McCullar and Marcus Santos-Silva. More than half of Adams' roster is made up of transfers, with a majority of them profiling as scorers at non-Power 5 schools who will now get a chance on a bigger stage.
Adams has said he wants to play faster, while also transitioning to a more modern offense. Those changes are just more reason to see Texas Tech as potentially the Big 12's great wild card: capable of a Top 25 ranking, while still potentially at risk of missing the NCAA Tournament if things don't fall right in Adams' first year.
At a Glance
HEAD COACH: Mark Adams
2020-21 RECORD (BIG 12): 18-11 (9-8)
2020-21 POSTSEASON: NCAA: Lost to Arkansas 68-66 in the second round
G Kyler Edwards (10.1 ppg, 4.8 rpg)
G Mac McClung (15.5 ppg, 2.7 rpg)
G Micah Peavy (5.7 ppg, 3.1 rpg)
McCullar, who mostly played the 4 spot as a 6'6" guard last season, should help Texas Tech when it comes to culture, as he has the reputation for toughness. Though he hasn't been a great shooter thus far, McCullar's defensive stats are exceptional, as he's elite for his size when it comes to defensive rebounding, steals and blocks.
Santos-Silva — a great rim protector in his own right — also returns after serving as the team's primary 5 man. He thrived on the offensive glass a season ago while struggling with efficiency in post-up settings.
Bryson Williams also should be a factor in the frontcourt after averaging 15.1 points for UTEP a season ago; that included a 23-point, 13-rebound effort against Kansas in a March loss at Allen Fieldhouse.
Kevin Obanor is a 6'8" forward who averaged 19 points and 10 rebounds for 2021 NCAA Tournament darling Oral Roberts. Daniel Batcho, a 6'11" forward from France, also is an intriguing option after transferring from Arizona, where he redshirted after suffering a knee injury last season.
Shannon surprised some in early July by announcing he was returning for a junior season after being projected as a potential NBA second-round pick. That was a huge win for the Red Raiders, as Shannon should compete for first-team All-Big 12 honors with elite athleticism and strong penetrating skills.
Texas Tech will mostly be relying on an assortment of newcomers for the rest of its guard minutes. Mylik Wilson could be a starter after taking on a lead role last season at Louisiana, where he was a good finisher at the rim and also a disruptive defender. Sardaar Calhoun, from Florida State, should be an outside shooting threat after making 40 percent of his perimeter attempts a year ago, while Kaelen "KJ" Allen has the potential to display big-man skills as a 6'6" small forward after averaging 18.5 points and 9.3 rebounds during his only juco season at East Los Angeles College.
Two others will try to prove they can maintain their scoring after transferring up to Texas Tech: Davion Warren, who led the Big South in scoring average last season for Hampton (21.2 ppg), and Adonis Arms, who averaged 10.5 points for Winthrop in just 17 minutes per game. Chibuzo Agbo and Clarence Nadolny return to Lubbock as well after getting spot minutes last season.
Adams seems to be betting on himself in his first season at the helm, bringing in a bevy of natural scorers who will have to be quickly taught his defensive principles, which have been the staple of Texas Tech's success the last few years.
Will it work? That's the big question for Texas Tech, whose high ceiling and low floor should make for a fascinating storyline in 2021-22.
Postseason Prediction: NCAA Tournament Round of 32
Big 12 Prediction: 4