For the second straight season, there are plenty of new faces on the Texas Tech roster — not to mention a new guy sitting in the head coach’s chair. The new group will have to contribute right away in order for Tech to rise from its last-place seat in the Big 12. Here’s a look at which each player may bring to the table:
Josh Gray, guard
■ Height: 6-foot-1
■ Weight: 175 pounds
■ Last school: Houston Wheatley
Gray is the most touted of the five incoming recruits who will play for Texas Tech this season. The dynamic point guard averaged 24 points and six assists per game as a high school senior and ended up with the Red Raiders after being released from his scholarship at Mississippi State.
Though just a freshman, Gray has already taken on a leadership role for a Tech team with only one senior on its roster for the second straight season.
“He brings toughness,” fellow guard Toddrick Gotcher says. “He’s a real point guard. Playing with him, he gives us the ball, gives the post the ball, and he can score, too. His toughness is the main thing. We look at him as a leader.”
Daylen Robinson, guard
■ Height: 6-foot
■ Weight: 175 pounds
■ Last school: Moberly Area (Mo.) Community College
Robinson has the ability to be an explosive scorer. At Kansas City Northeast High School, he averaged 32 points per game during his senior season — including a 57-point output in his final prep game — and he won the DiRenna Award as the city’s top prep player.
He continued his strong production at the junior-college level, where he averaged about 14 points per game over two seasons at Moberly Area Community College in Missouri.
Despite the big numbers at previous stops, though, Robinson says he has little concern for stats.
“I really don’t care about scoring,” he said. “I care about distributing the ball. I can play defense, so hopefully I’ll just come out and contribute any way I can.”
Jamal Williams, guard
■ Height: 6-foot-4
■ Weight: 190 pounds
■ Last school: Lake Land (Ill.) College
Williams groomed his game on the streets of Brooklyn, N.Y., and he credits those experiences for shaping who he is as a basketball player.
“It’s tough,” Williams said, “You’ve got a lot of ball-handlers. It’s a flashy type of basketball. You go out there and you pick up speed and learn moves, and that’s basically what happens out there.”
With good size, Williams can be used in a variety of roles, even possessing the ability to defend the post should Tech use a smaller, four-guard lineup in stretches.
“He’s a Bruce Bowen-type,” Tech coach Chris Walker said. “He can hit a shot, create a shot. He’s more of a vocal leader. He’s got that New York attitude. He’s an older guy, so we can use his experience down the road, for sure.”
Trency Jackson, guard
■ Height: 6-foot-2
■ Weight: 185 pounds
■ Last school: Northwest Florida State
Trency Jackson has already claimed the title of Tech’s best dunker from his teammates, but he may prove to be most valuable without the ball in his hands.
Jackson helped lead Northwest Florida State to a runner-up finish in last season’s NJCAA tournament, and his coach, Steve Forbes, says Jackson was the team’s best defender.
Tech coach Chris Walker is hopeful Jackson can develop into the type of defender who can create havoc for an opponent’s top scorer on any given night.
“When he turns the energy up, it really gets the team going,” Walker said. “I think he can be that defensive stopper. We’ll see as time goes on if that’s a role he’ll embrace.”
Dusty Hannahs, guard
■ Height: 6-foot-4
■ Weight: 210 pounds
■ Last school: Pulaski (Ark.) Academy
Hannahs can shoot. During his senior year at Pulaski last year, he made 52 percent of his 3-point shots on the way to being named the Arkansas player of the year. He scored at least 40 points three different times last season.
But as deadly as he is from behind the arc, Hannahs says he has worked hard to develop other parts of his game.
“You can’t be too good at any one thing in this game,” Hannahs said. “Defense is really what I’ve been focusing on, keeping high intensity. That’s one of the adjustments you make as a true freshman. You have a lot of quick guards, a lot of fast guys.”
Hannahs’ father, Gerry Hannahs, was a major league pitcher for four seasons with the Montreal Expos and Los Angeles Dodgers, but Dusty Hannahs says he always gravitated toward the hardwood.
“Basketball was just what always had my heart,” he said. “I continue to work hard at it.”
Dejan Kravic, center
■ Height: 6-foot-11
■ Weight: 240 pounds
■ Last school: York University (Canada)
It’s been a long wait for Kravic, who redshirted last season after transferring from York University in Canada. He won’t have to wait long this season, though, for an opportunity to make an impact.
Kravic will likely begin the season as the team’s starting center, and he’ll be looked upon to help the Red Raiders overcome a major rebound disparity it suffered through a season ago. Tech was last in the Big 12 in rebounding at 30.3 per game.
It will mark a change for Kravic. He ran the court and played as a perimeter-hybrid-type player in Canada, where the basketball is played similar to the up-and-down European style. But Kravic has added muscle to his frame and believes he is ready to be an imposing force in the low block.
“I’m really excited,” Kravic said. “I haven’t played for almost two years now, so I’m ready to get on the court.”
Kader Tapsoba, forward
■ Height: 6-foot-10
■ Weight: 222 pounds
■ Last school: Tyler Junior College
Tapsoba was on campus last season but never saw the court in game action because of a leg injury.
The Africa native began showing glimpses of promise during practices late last season, and Tech coach Chris Walker says he has continued to see improvement out of Tapsoba since official practice began.
“Having a chance to be on the court,” Tapsoba said this summer, “that feels nice.”
Though still raw and inexperienced — he didn’t start playing basketball until he was 14 — Tapsoba could be a player who provides much-needed frontcourt depth this season, one who can provide good energy in short spurts