One year ago, the Texas Tech men’s basketball team achieved something that no team in the history of the program has ever done before as the Red Raiders competed in the NCAA Championship Final. A year later, the Red Raiders are stuck at home, but not because they were knocked out of the tournament.
Coming off the loss in the championship game, Red Raider fans were crushed, but as the team has progressed each year under head coach Chris Beard, they were hopeful for the future. Despite losing the majority of last season’s roster, such as Jarrett Culver, Tariq Owens and Matt Mooney, Tech landed several high-profile prospects to fill their shoes.
Jahmi’us Ramsey marked the program’s first-ever five-star recruit as he decided to play for Tech. With all of the hype around him, Ramsey proved why he was one of the nation’s top freshmen hoopers, leading the Red Raiders with 15 points per game and a team-leading 43 percent three-point percentage.
Along with Ramsey, Tech landed several other key players in Lubbock, including freshmen Terrence Shannon Jr. and Kevin McCullar as well as a pair of graduate transfers in Chris Clarke and TJ Holyfield. Despite the talented roster, Red Raider fans will never know how this team would have competed against the nation’s top teams in the 2020 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.
It's safe to say no one could have ever predicted this is how the college basketball season would have ended. The COVID-19 outbreak ended the 2019-20 college basketball season for Tech and every other team the postseason was just getting started. With the NCAA deciding not to grant the winter sports athletes an extra year of eligibility despite the unprecedented conclusion to their seasons, Tech’s loss to Kansas on March 7 was the last time Holyfield and Clarke will be seen in scarlet and black.
Looking back to a year ago, things were completely different. On April 8, 2019, hundreds of Tech fans, students and alumni were in Minneapolis getting ready to watch the Red Raiders compete for the program’s first national championship. Fast forward to April 8, 2020, Lubbock is more silent than it has ever been.
It is weird to see Lubbock so quiet and empty, especially after seeing how crazy the city was a year ago. After the Final Four win against Michigan State last season, I have never experienced something more crazy than the atmosphere on Broadway.
While I don’t condone some of the things that were done that night, it was something I will never forget. As I lived a few streets down from Broadway, I heard from a friend that hundreds of students and fans would be partying on the street if we won the game. Following Tech’s 10-point win, I decided to walk over and check it out.
Although things got out of control as people started to flood the street, looking back, it is something I will never forget. Just reflecting on coming to Tech in 2015, before Beard’s arrival, Tech struggled to fill United Supermarkets Arena. Now, there are lines of students waiting days before tipoff. Just being able to see everything progressively get better with this program, it sucks to know that will not be able to see how deep of a run the 2019-20 team could have made.