The Texas Tech basketball team has extended an offer to Sean McNeil, the top scoring JUCO player in the nation.
Throughout the 2018-19 Texas Tech basketball season, many have wondered if the Red Raiders have enough offensive firepower to be a true national title contender. So given that offense is a concern right now and that the Red Raiders stand to lose quite a bit of their scoring this offseason, it is no surprise to see that Chris Beard and his assistants are going after Sean McNeil, the top JUCO scorer in the country.
The 6-foot-4 shooting guard is averaging over 30 points per game this year for Sinclair Community College in Dayton Ohio. The Kentucky native is one of the hottest JUCO targets in the class of 2019 and holds offers from Colorado State, Texas Tech, West Virginia, Dayton, Western Kentucky and Ole Miss.
But when the college basketball season ends, the competition for McNeil is certain to intensify. According to the “Dayton Daily News”, as many as 80 schools have contacted Sinclair coaches to inquire about McNeil including Indiana, Virginia, Marquette, Kentucky, Louisville, Ohio State and Kansas State.
It is easy to see why. The freshman who only had offers from Kentucky Wesleyan and Bellarmine out of high school has scored in double-digits in 23 of 24 games played this season. What’s more, he’s had only three games with fewer than 20 points and has topped the 30-point mark ten times.
On November 17th, he set a school record with 55 points draining 9-14 shots from 3-point range and hitting 14-16 free throws. Two games later, he nearly matched that with 47 points as he hit 7-11 from deep.
Thus far, he is hitting 4.2 shots per game from behind the arc and is shooting at a 40.8% clip from long-range. He is also averaging 6.0 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game for the 16-9 Tartans.
McNeil may remind some Texas Tech basketball fans of a JUCO superstar that got away several years ago. In 2010, Marshall Henderson transferred from Utah to Texas Tech but after the firing of Pat Knight, he enrolled at South Plains J.C. in Levelland.
After earning National JUCO Player of the Year honors, he then transferred to Ole Miss where he averaged 19.6 p.p.g. in two seasons. Like McNeil, Henderson was a dynamic scorer with unlimited range and almost too much swagger but in this recruiting battle, Tech does not have the advantage of geography in its favor as it did with Henderson, a native of Hurst, Texas.
But it is easy to see how McNeil could fit into Chris Beard’s plans next year. The Red Raiders expect to lose leading scorer Jarrett Culver to the NBA this offseason leaving a 17.7 p.p.g. hole in the roster.
However, McNeil could be more of a replacement for senior Matt Mooney who is averaging 10.7 p.p.g. in his lone season as a Red Raider. Mooney has proven to be an efficient outside shooter while establishing himself as the best on-ball defender on the roster meaning his absence will be felt next year.
Tech has already signed the best recruiting class in program history including forward Jahmius Ramsey from Duncanville, who is the highest-rated player to ever sign with the Red Raiders. But that is not stopping Beard and his staff from continuing to add talent in the class of 2019.
Tech is currently in the top 3 for 4-star point guard Damion Baugh from Memphis. Baugh is set to decide between Tech, Memphis and TCU in the upcoming weeks.
But because Beard could have as many as six open scholarships next year, there is plenty of room for more 2019 prospects. In addition to losing four seniors and Culver after this season, Tech already has an open scholarship that is not currently being used.
Many believe that Beard will bring in at least one graduate transfer this offseason as well because as it currently stands, there will be no seniors on next year’s roster. It doesn’t seem likely that Tech will land both McNeil and Baugh and once must wonder if McNeil will remain a priority should Baugh decide to join the Red Raiders.
Still, this is a name to keep in mind. McNeil could become one of the hottest targets in the country once the college basketball season concludes and the battle for the few remaining 2019 targets heats up following the annual roster shuffling that has become commonplace in the modern era of college hoops. Certainly we can expect the Red Raiders to be active in that market and Sean McNeil could be one of their top targets.