Freshmen producing for Texas Tech
Oklahoma’s Trae Young and Texas’ Mo Bamba understandably hog the freshman spotlight in the Big 12, but they aren’t the only newcomers having big impacts on their teams. Kansas will face two productive Texas Tech freshmen flying under the radar of the national spotlight tonight.
In the case of 6-foot-5, 195-pound Zhaire Smith from Garland, Texas, “flying” is the right way to put it.
“I played against him in high school a lot,” Kansas freshman Marcus Garrett said. “He’s a jumper. I think he’s got a 40-something inch vertical. That’s something right there. … He has a high motor and he plays hard.”
Smith averages 22.6 minutes, 10.7 points, 4.1 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 1.2 blocks and a steal per game.
Jarrett Culver, a 6-5, 190-pound native of Lubbock, averages 10.4 points, 3.8 rebounds and 1.8 assists in 21.2 minutes per game.
Both freshmen usually come off the bench, although they rank second and third on the team in scoring behind senior guard Keenan Evans (16.6 ppg).
“Culver is just a good player,” Self said. “He can just do a little bit of everything. He can score. He’s got good size. He can handle it. He’s like one of those jack-of-all-trades fours. He can post it and he can score beyond the arc.”
Smith and Culver have had the benefit of adjusting to the speed of the game against a soft non-conference schedule and came into conference play with a lot of confidence. Culver scored 13 points in a 77-53 rout of injury-weakened Baylor.