It might be unfair to label Texas Tech basketball head coach Mark Adams an unproven commodity. After all, the man has won over 500 games as a head coach in his career. But he’s never had the challenge of swimming in waters as deep as he is swimming in now that he’s been put in charge of a Big 12 program. And after just a week on the job, his greatest perceived weakness, his ability to recruit, is being put to the test.
When Adams was first tabbed to lead the Red Raiders, immediate questions began to surface about his ability to recruit elite talent. Again, that may not be fair given that at the JUCO level, where he won a National Championship, Adams had to recruit to places like Clarendon and Big Spring.
But no one has seen Adams recruit to a Big 12 school and may doubt whether he’s dynamic enough personality-wise to do so. And it doesn’t help matters that he’s following in the footsteps of the most successful recruiter in program history. In other words, the bar is rather high.
For what it’s worth, recruiting was something that Adams has not been tasked with doing over the past five years as associate head coach. Instead, he was an X’s and O’s guy tasked with building Texas Tech’s now famous and often-imitated “no middle” defense.
But as the face of a program, Adams won’t have the luxury of pulling a Kliff Kingsbury and ignoring recruiting while immersing himself in drawing up plays and watching game videos. Even when he has his full staff in place, complete with what we hope is at least one ace recruiter the likes of former Red Raider assistants Al Pinkins and Ulric Malagi, Adams will have to prove capable of being a closer who can entice top talent to come to the South Plains.
And unfortunately for him, there’s no time for him to simply dip his toes in the turbulent waters of college basketball recruiting. That’s because his program is losing players at a head-spinning rate.
In the past week alone, Tech has seen Kyler Edwards, Mac McClung, and Micah Peavy enter the transfer portal. Additionally, Terrence Shannon has decided to test the NBA Draft waters and it is highly unlikely that he will return to Lubbock for another season.
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Between them, that’s 44.2 points, 14.6 rebounds, and 5.2 assists per game. Yikes. And what’s more, the program’s only 2021 signee, 4-star forward Jaylon Tyson, has entered the transfer portal and committed to Texas dealing another hit to the already bruised ego of this fan base.
Fair or not, the perception that Adams will struggle as a recruiter has not been helped by his inability to convince these players to stay the course as Red Raiders. On the other hand, Tech has received commitments to return from Marcus Santos-Silva, Clarence Nadolny, and Chibuzo Ago but being as Santos-Silva is the only member of that trio that was a key contributor this year, those wins are nowhere near as meaningful as the losses Adams has incurred since taking over.
The good news for Red Raider fans is that games don’t start until November. And the transfer portal is teeming with talent that could help offset these significant defections.
That means Adams has plenty of time to assemble a competitive roster for the upcoming season. But until he starts to come up with some wins when it comes to acquiring talent, the perception of his ability to recruit is going to continue to be questionable at best.
One of the pluses in hiring Adams was supposed to be his rapport with the players on the roster and that was supposed to help him keep the roster largely intact. That hasn’t happened so it is hard to blame Texas Tech basketball fans for worrying about what next year will hold for a program that is coming off of three-straight NCAA Tournament appearances for the first time in its history.
Make no mistake, it isn’t time to sound any alarms. After all, Adams hasn’t even conducted his first practice as head coach.
But almost immediately, his greatest perceived weakness is being put to the test and the early returns are not great. Here’s hoping that what we’ve seen so far is just the natural transition period that most programs undergo during a coaching change and that Adams is due for a hot streak on the recruiting front. That’s because sooner rather than later, he needs to start giving the fans some reasons to feel optimistic about the future of Tech hoops.