Joe Yeager for Inside the Red Raiders
Davide Moretti’s announcement that he will sign a professional contract with LBA team Olimpia Milano means that, once again, Chris Beard will field an almost entirely new teams next season. Fellow guard Jahmi’us Ramsey has declared for the upcoming NBA draft and there is no real reason to believe he won’t keep his hat in the ring. In addition to that duo, the two best players on last year’s team, Texas Tech loses graduate transfers T.J. Holyfield and Chris Clarke to graduation, and forward Andrei Savrasov and center Russel Tchewa to transfer.
As of this writing, the returnees from the 2019-20 team will be junior off guard Kyler Edwards, sophomore swingman Terrence Shannon, sophomore point guard Clarence Nadolny, sophomore small forward Kevin McCullar, and junior shooting guard Avery Benson.
The 2020 recruiting class, which is ranked No. 9 in the nation, features combo guard Nimari Burnett, small forward Micah Peavy, power forward Chibuzo Agbo, and power forward Esahia Nyiwe. The first three come from the high school ranks, while Nyiwe is a junior college transfer.
In addition to that talented quartet, Beard will welcome transfers Jamarius Burton, a combo guard from Wichita State, and Marcus Santos-Silva, a power forward from Virginia Commonwealth. The initial word on Burton was that he would redshirt, while Santos-Silva would complete coursework this summer that would make him eligible to play next season.
Should Burton instead pursue and receive a waiver to play next season, this would give Beard a 13-man roster. Benson, however, is a former walkon who earned a scholarship last season. Theoretically, he could be returned to walkon status, which would give Beard a scholarship roster of 12 players. The maximum number of scholarships a D1 team can carry is 13.
Beard and his staff are reportedly still pursuing several players. They are shooting guard Mac McClung from Georgetown, power forward Jonathan Kuminga, currently a 2021 prospect who is considering reclassifying to 2020, Air Force point guard A.J. Walker, and Utah swingman Both Gach.
Of those four players, the only one who would certainly play next season is a reclassified Kuminga. McClung, Walker and Gach would have to be granted waivers to be eligible.
Texas Tech’s roster is very fluid given the departure of players, the most recent of which is Moretti, and Beard’s willingness to turn over his roster in pursuit of the best possible talent. It is hardly out of the question that other players presently on the roster may not be there for the opening tap next season.
Moretti’s departure leaves gaps that will be almost impossible to fill, however. Most obviously, he was a sterling deep shooter—one of the best in school history. With Moretti going professional, the only shooter on the roster is Kyler Edwards, and he is streaky rather than steady. Another pure shooter would be most welcome. But, among the players Tech has signed and those Tech is reportedly pursuing, only A.J. Walker is a shooter. Last season he connected on 40 percent of his 119 attempts from distance.
Moretti was also an extremely experienced player within Chris Beard’s system. Beard trusted Moretti implicitly, and relied upon him to communicate his wishes to teammates when Moretti was on the court. That feature cannot be replaced by a newcomer. Another player, most likely Kevin McCullar, will have to assume the role of quarterback on the court, and he will only be a sophomore.
Moretti had other abilities as well, such as deadly free throw shooting and a sneaky-cum-crafty midrange game, but those will not be missed quite as much.
In short, Chris Beard has a huge job on his hands in attempting to manage this roster. There are so many variables as of this moment, such as Kuminga’s status for 2020, and how the NCAA would rule on Burton, McClung, Walker and Gach. Beard believed an NCAA waiver for Ntambwe last season was a slam dunk, but instead the door was slammed in the face of Beard and Ntambwe. Counting on that organization to grant a waiver, no matter how justified it may be, is a colossal gamble.
But, the bottom line is that, no matter what happens, Moretti will be missed badly. Rather than replace him, Beard will likely hope to compensate by creating monstrous strengths in other areas. Fortunately, he will have the talent to do just that and more.