Keenan Evans and Zhaire Smith; one already a Texas Tech legend, the other with the potential to be.
Together, the senior and the freshman collectively led the way for Texas Tech’s first Elite Eight appearance in school history. That’s where the road ended for the Red Raiders, but nevertheless, Evans and Smith shined en route to arguably the most successful season in Texas Tech basketball history.
Not surprisingly, the two were praised for their performances, earning a place among Bleacher Report’s All-Tournament Team through the Elite Eight.
Evans earned the higher recognition of the two, being placed on the First Team after averaging 18.3 points, 3.5 assists and 2.5 rebounds throughout the NCAA Tournament.
“All season, Keenan Evans was a relentless driver. Either he got to the rim or got to the free-throw line just about whenever he wanted,” Bleacher Report’s Kerry Miller said. “Despite battling a toe injury, that didn’t change in the tournament. He averaged 8.3 two-point attempts and 8.0 free-throw attempts per game. Better yet, he made 87.5 percent of those free-throw attempts, including a perfect 10-of-10 in the comeback win in the first round.”
Smith, the fresher-faced of the two Texas Tech standouts, was a star in his own right, and thus, was named to Bleacher Report’s Second Team, joining Kansas’ Devonte’ Graham and Kansas State’s Barry Brown as Big 12 representatives on the list.
“For as much of a one-man show as Keenan Evans sometimes was for Texas Tech this season, Smith still managed to play one heck of a second fiddle as a freshman,” Miller said. “He only averaged 12.0 points per game during the tournament, but he filled up the stat sheet with 7.3 rebounds, 2.5 assists and a combined 2.0 blocks and steals. It’s not far off from what he did all season, and it’s a nice glimpse into what lies ahead for this star.”
However, it’s clear that what lies ahead for Evans is a professional career, either in the NBA or elsewhere, but Smith’s immediate future remains to be seen. If Smith does ultimately elect to return to Lubbock, the Red Raiders would seemingly be his team to take over in Evans’ absence. If not, and his days at Texas Tech are over, at least he went out on the heels of one of the top performances in the NCAA Tournament.