Mark Adams always wanted to be a Red Raiders quarterback or part of the basketball team when he was growing up in a small farming community about 30 miles from the Texas Tech campus.
As a Tech student in the late 1970s, Adams asked former basketball coach Gerald Myers a lot of questions. When the Red Raiders made it to the national championship game three seasons ago, after an Elite Eight appearance the previous year, Adams was Chris Beard's top assistant.
At age 65, Adams is now head coach at his alma mater, his first season as the top guy at the Division I level in a coaching career spanning four decades with 554 wins at five lower-level schools. The season opener is Nov. 9 at home against North Florida.
“It’s even hard for me to believe that I’m in this position,” said Adams, who got promoted in April after Beard left for Texas, his alma mater. “It is a dream-come-true job.”
While several players also left, junior guard and preseason All-Big 12 pick Terrence Shannon Jr. stayed after considering early entry in the NBA draft. He was the second-leading scorer at 12.9 points a game last season.
Leading scorer and All-Big 12 guard Mac McClung went undrafted and played in the NBA Summer League. Third-leading scorer Kyler Edwards transferred to Houston, an NCAA Final Four team last season. Micah Peavy, a starting guard as a freshman, is now at TCU.
Five of the six seniors on the roster are in their first season at Texas Tech, and none began their college career with the Red Raiders. Marcus Santos-Silva, the top rebounder last season at 6.4 per game, was at VCU three seasons before his Big 12 debut last year.
“Historically, this may be the first time we’ve had this many veterans, experienced team together, that hadn’t played together,” Adams said. “So our big challenge has been getting those guys to mesh together. ... They’re working really hard, and a lot of enthusiasm.”
Kevin Obanor, a 6-foot-8 forward, had three consecutive double-doubles in the NCAA Tournament last March while helping lead Oral Roberts to a Sweet 16 appearance. He averaged 18.7 points and 9.6 rebounds per game.
“We’re real excited about what he adds to our team. But to have a big guy that can shoot like he does, opens up the floor, is special," Adams said. “He’ll be a key ingredient to the success we have this year.”
Sardaar Calhoun is a 6-6 transfer from Florida State, and there are three super seniors making their Tech debuts: guards Davion Warren from Hampton and Adonis Arms from Winthrop, and forward Bryson Williams from UTEP.
After missing the first nine games last season because of an injury during the preseason, guard Kevin McCullar averaged 10.4 points, 6.3 rebounds and 2.1 assists in his 20 games (19 starts). His sophomore season ended with 15 points and eight rebounds in the NCAA Tournament against Arkansas.
NOT ON POINT
The Red Raiders again lack a true point guard, though that hasn't been a real issue in the past. They will have two or three combo guards on the floor together.
“The last four years we hadn’t had a true point guard and had great success with just doing it with different guys bringing the ball up the floor,” Adams said. “We have players, there’s four or five of them that have the skill set, they can handle the ball and pass.”
Adams is a highly regarded defensive coach, and the Red Raiders have been among the nation's top defensive teams since he joined the staff five years ago. He is now trying to teach his new staff the aggressive defense that other teams have copied.
“It's flattering. ... The only thing I’m upset about is the Baylor Bears, they copied it, now they run it better than we do," Adams said smiling, referencing the Big 12 team that won the national championship last season.
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