On Friday, Kevin Obanor, the best outside shooting big man in college basketball, announced he has chosen Texas Tech over Arkansas as his transfer destination.
The announcement came via his Twitter account with the caption “Blessing on Blessings.”
Obanor, of course, is a grown man who best knows his own particular situation. Still, from the outside, it looks like the 23-year-old made a mistake in choosing the Texas Tech basketball program.
This isn’t meant to disparage Texas Tech. The Red Raiders are far from a bad program.
So, yes, specific relationships matter. But so does the bigger picture.
And when it comes to the bigger picture of what the Arkansas basketball program can do for Obanor in 2021-22 and beyond, on the surface the scales tilted in Arkansas’ favor.
Here are the top reasons why Arkansas would have been a better fit for Obanor than Texas Tech:
Eric Musselman vs Mark Adams
Musselman doesn’t know Obanor as well as Hester, but the two do have a prior relationship.
“I was recruited by Musselman, so we had a pretty solid relationship,” Obanor said before Oral Roberts played Arkansas in the 2021 NCAA Tournament.
“And things didn’t play out, but it’s all God’s plan.”
More importantly, Musselman is the more seasoned head coach, someone who is far surer thing in his ability to develop Obanor than new Texas Tech head coach Mark Adams.
Eric Musselman is rising coaching superstar in college basketball who has a track record of developing multiple transfers, including standout big man Justin Smith last year.
He also has plenty of NBA experience, as well as a staff filled with assistants with NBA bonafides.
Mark Adams hasn’t been a head coach at the Division I level since 1997 and has zero NBA experience.
Sure, Adams could turn out to be great, but Musselman is by far the more sure thing when it shoring up his weaknesses. Obanor just has one college season left to give himself the best shot possible at the NBA.
Why take unnecessary risk?
Bud Walton Arena vs United Supermarkets Arena
The Dean Dome.
Bud Walton Arena.
Arkansas basketball’s arena is on the short list of greatest home court atmospheres in the game. When it gets rocking and rolling, it ranks right up there with the best of the best — and often gets louder.
Obanor only got a glimpse of that atmosphere when he played against the Hogs last winter thanks to COVID-19 restrictions, but he should get the full treatment when playing in front of 20,000+ roaring fans through much of 2021-2022.
Texas Tech basketball players, meanwhile, play in something called the United Supermarkets Arena. Capacity: 15,000 or so.
This disparity reflects the gap in prestige between the two programs.
Arkansas has 11 Elite Eight appearances and a national title while Texas Tech has two Elite Eight appearances and a runner-up finish.
Even when looking at only the last 10 years, Texas Tech basketball’s overall record is 177-148.
Arkansas is 214-121.
Arkansas vs Texas Tech Basketball Roster Outlook
Obviously, Obanor will want to get plenty of playing time wherever he goes.
It will be a bit tougher to break into big minutes on Red Raiders because it looks like they already have two starting bigs in the the returning Marcus Santos-Silva and UTEP transfer Bryson Williams.
On top of that, Texas Tech has 7-foot Arizona transfer Daniel Batcho.
Arkansas, meanwhile, was likely going to play small-ball lineups including one with Jaylin Williams as the lone starting big and Toney and Umude as forwards.
But Obanor projects to slide into the starting lineup to give Arkansas a more traditional frontline. Likely either Toney or Umude would come off the bench as a result.
At Arkansas, Kevin Obanor has a more direct path to big minutes and a better shot at winning a national title.
With two true point guards with deep-shooting range in Chris Lykes and KK Robinson, Arkansas also has better personnel to match Obanor’s particular pick-and-pop talents than Texas Tech.
The Red Raiders have inferior point guard options in guys like Clarence Nadolny and incoming transfer Mylik Wilson.
Nobody on either team is as devastating a shooter as Obanor’s former ORU teammate Max Abmas, but Arkansas offers the closest approximation.
Fayetteville vs Lubbock
Is this even an argument?
On one hand, a dried-out topographical nightmare of a place and on the other, one of the best areas to live in the nation?
Yes, former Arkansas basketball assistant Corey Williams left Fayetteville for Lubbock, but he did so to get a better shot at head coaching one day. Obanor is looking ahead to prepping for pro ball, and in his case Fayetteville — not Lubbock — makes more sense.
If Obanor has any doubts about Fayetteville, he can always talk to Lee Mayberry, the former Arkansas basketball great who now coaches women at Oral Roberts.
Plus, though Kevin Obanor is native Texan, he is from Houston. That’s nearly as long of drive (8 hours, 15 minutes) to Lubbock as it is to Fayetteville.
There are few more beautiful places to spend a final year in college.
Arkansas is still heading into the 2021-2022 season as a Top 12 team in most preseason polls after an already successful offseason getting transfers like Stanley Umude, Chris Lykes, Au’diese Toney and Trey Wade.
But inking Kevin Obanor would have almost certainly pushed the Razorbacks into the Top 5 in most polls and make Arkansas a regular pick to make the 2022 Final Four.
Playing for Oral Roberts in 2020-21, the versatile 6’8″ Obanor shot 46.3% percent from the three-point line and 87.5% percent from the free throw line while averaging 18.7 points and 9.6 rebounds.
That just scratches the surface of how good he is on offense, as the below efficiency stats show:
He’ll do well on almost any modern college basketball team, including Texas Tech.
But he could have maximized his last season in college by choosing the Arkansas basketball program.