A few weeks ago, I was sitting next to my friend John Werner at a basketball game. I mentioned to him that Texas Tech coach Chris Beard has said on multiple occasions that he believes Jarrett Culver will go down as one of the best players in Red Raider basketball history.
John, the longtime Baylor hoops beat writer for the Waco Tribune-Herald, has always been a big fan of the legendary Lance Hughes. Naturally, he asked me where Hughes would fit among the greatest Texas Tech basketball players.
I was intrigued by this question, so I’ve spent some time compiling my rankings of the Top 20 Red Raiders. I leaned heavily on contributions to NCAA Tournament teams along with the list of 1,000-point scorers in the Texas Tech media guide.
It should be noted that I didn’t include current players. And I thought about these guys — Zach Smith, Sean Gay, Gerald Myers, Rayford Young, Jaye Crockett, Mike Russell, Andy Ellis, Del Ray Mounts, Mark Davis, Gene Knolle — who could have been on the list but ultimately were edged out in my rankings.
- Jason Sasser — Scored in double figures in 71-straight games. Only player in program history with more than 2,000 points, 300 assists and 800 rebounds.
- Andre Emmett — Red Raiders career scoring leader with 2,256 points. Led Texas Tech to NCAA Tournament appearance in Bob Knight’s first season as head coach in 2002. Then advanced to the NIT national semifinals in 2003 and went back to the NCAA Tourney in 2004.
- Rick Bullock — Averaged a double-double sophomore through senior season. Highest career per-game scoring average at 19.8 and only Red Raider to score more than 2,000 career points and pull down more than 1,000 career rebounds.
- Jarrius Jackson – Texas Tech’s second all-time leading scorer and one of the few players in school history to make the NCAA Tournament three times.
- Bubba Jennings – Stats aside, a list of Texas Tech’s all-time greats would be incomplete if it didn’t include Jennings in the top 5. He scored 19.5 points per game in leading the Red Raiders to the Southwest Conference regular season and tournament titles and the NCAA Tournament in 1985. Jennings is Texas Tech’s No. 9 all-time scorer, but if he hadn’t played just before the inception of the 3-point line in college basketball, he might be as high as No. 5.
- Keenan Evans helped the Red Raiders reach the NCAA Tournament in 2016 and 2018. Averaged 17.6 points as a senior in 2018 as he led the Red Raiders to their first ever Elite Eight appearance.
- Martin Zeno – Scored more than 1,900 points with more than 400 assists. As a freshman, Zeno quarterbacked one of Texas Tech’s best teams as the 2004-2005 Red Raiders reached the Sweet 16.
- Dub Malaise – One of only two players, along with Gene Knolle, to average more than 20 points for his career. Led the Red Raiders to SWC regular season title in 1965.
- Will Flemons – Like Rick Bullock, Flemons is an icon of interior play for the Red Raiders. He averaged 20.2 points and 10.8 rebounds in leading Texas Tech to the NCAA Tournament during James Dickey’s first season as head coach.
- Cory Carr – Major contributor on Red Raiders’ Sweet 16 team in 1996 and averaged more than 23 points per game in first two seasons of the Big 12.
- Tony Battie – Highest ever NBA Draft pick taken fifth overall by the Boston Celtics in 1997. Force on the interior on 1996 Sweet 16 team. Averaged 10.7 points and 8.3 rebounds in three seasons. Averaged 18.9 points per game in Big 12 play in 1997.
- Jim Reed led Texas Tech to the NCAA Tournament in 1954 and 1956 after winning the Border Conference in both seasons. Reed finished his career with more than 1,600 points and 1,300 rebounds.
- Koy Smith – In the Texas Tech record book, Smith looks like a solid role player. But he might be the Red Raiders’ all-time winner of the best supporting actor award. On teams that featured Flemons, Sasser, Carr, Battie and other stars, Smith made a ton of big baskets as he averaged double digits in three of his four seasons. Smith averaged 13.3 points on Sweet 16 squad in 1996.
- Lance Hughes – Texas Tech’s No. 8 all-time scorer specialized in dunks and 3-pointers. If post-career intramural points were included, Hughes, who legend has it played intramural ball with Kliff Kingsbury, might be the only Red Raider to top 20,000 points.
- Tony Benford – Picked up where Bubba Jennings left off and led the Red Raiders to a second-straight NCAA Tournament appearance when they won the SWC Tournamentin 1986. Averaged 14.4 points as a senior on a team that won games with defense and ball control.
- Darvin Ham – No stats needed. Although Ham contributed in myriad ways to the Red Raiders outstanding teams in 1995 and 1996, his backboard-shattering dunk against North Carolina instantly made him one of the Red Raiders all-time greats.
- Greg Lowery – Joined Gene Knolle as Texas Tech’s first two African American players. Lowery averaged 24.5 points as a senior in 1972 and 19.7 for his career.
- Zhaire Smith – A highlight machine, Smith was arguably the catalyst for the Red Raiders’ Elite Eight team in 2018. Texas Tech’s first one-and-done averaged 11.2 points and 5 rebounds.
- Toddrick Gotcher – Finished his career No. 10 in 3-pointers made. Scored 952 career points and averaged 10.9 as a senior. But more important than the stats, Gotcher ferried the team through the turmoil of coaching changes and low points of early 2010s and then led it to a berth in NCAA Tournament in 2016.
- Ronald Ross – Starred as a senior on Texas Tech’s Sweet 16 team in 2005. Averaged 17.5 points, 5.45 rebounds, 3 assists and 2.6 steals.