Household Names

Jordan Tolbert and Luke Adams might both be freshmen, but are already fan favorites in their short time in the scarlet and black. Story by Joshua Koch.

When Texas Tech head coach Billy Gillispie first talked to the media this fall, he was asked which new players would end up being household names – he didn't know.

Now with nine games under their belts there are two players that have put themselves out there, opened some eyes and have become household names – Luke Adams and Jordan Tolbert.

Both freshmen, Adams a walk-on, Tolbert out of Fort Worth have not only have been producing for the Red Raiders, but also have shown that youth and inexperience is not a problem.

Tolbert has started in every game this season wearing No. 32, Mike Singletary's old number, and is utilizing every bit of his six foot seven inches in the game.

"We knew the kid (Jordan) Tolbert coming in," Grambling State head coach Bobby Washington said following Sunday's game. "He's definitely going to be something that coach's going to be able to build around. He does great in that high-low game that I know coach (Gillispie) comes from. He gets down there and really battles."

Tolbert went for 22 points against the Tigers, 18 of those points coming in the second half alone, and it marked the second straight game Tolbert had eclipsed the 20-point mark.

He is not only also leading the team in scoring, 14 points per game, but also in rebounding averaging 6.2 boards per game, tied for the lead in field goal percentage at 61 percent on the young season.

When taking those numbers and comparing them to where they rank in the Big 12 Conference, Tolbert ranks 9th in scoring, 11th in rebounding and 3rd in field goal percentage.

The one stat that is not tracked is unbelievable and acrobatic slam-dunks, which Tolbert, when given the chance, can rock the rim.

Lone senior Robert Lewandowski said when it comes to this team, his most favorite thing is giving it off to the other big man.

"One of the things I love about this team is Jordan Tolbert and the presence he has down low," he said. "Looking back through all these games, I may not be the highest scorer, but I love passing the ball to that kid. He can catch it almost anywhere, and he scores almost every time."

With all the praise coming his way, sometimes that can get to players and that is one thing that Gillispie does fear with all the attention the young freshman has garnered.

But the one thing that the first-year head coach did point out was that there is a bright future for Tolbert as a Red Raider and a basketball player in general.

"He's got a chance to be a really, really good player," he said. "When he learns, like any other freshman in the country, that every single possession is so important in practice, because how you practice is how you play. He's going to be a beast, he's not there yet, but he has so many great things, so many great qualities that will allow him to be there once he continues to mature."

Now to the other player that has gotten some name recognition in a short amount of time.

He only stands 5-foot, 9-inches, making him the second shortest player on the squad, but that doesn't stop him from making his presence felt.

Adams is a freshman just like Tolbert, but is closer to home considering he is from Big Spring, which is just around a one and a half hour drive down Highway 87.

He has only played in two games, but has already become a fan favorite, and especially after his how he performed in his first career start.

Gillispie said the reason behind Adams getting the start was plain and simply because he had been practicing hard and had performed well in the last game.

In the previous game, which was back on December 7 against TCU, Adams played just 11 minutes and produced just three points all coming at the charity stripe.

In Sunday's game against Grambling State, Adams, who averaged 26.9 points per game in high school, showed up to play against the Tigers.

In the opening ticks of the game, in a flash, Adams, who hadn't even attempted a 3-pointer in his collegiate career, opened at 4-for-4 from behind the arc.

Everyone in the United Spirit Arena was shocked, including the Grambling State head coach, but one person that wasn't was Gillispie.

"Nah, he makes shots everyday in practice," he said. "He can make shots, he led 3A in scoring last year. He can shoot it, but he can really score it. He's really done a good job making us better offensively."

Adams finished the game with 15 points and his entire scoring coming from behind the arc going 5-for-10 on the night.

Following the game, Washington, Grambling State head coach, said even a walk-on player can play and Adams caught them by surprise, and his squad should have adjusted after the first two swished through the net, but didn't.

Adams scored the first 12 of 14 points for the Red Raiders in the game, making a statement to everyone that he can play.

One person that Adams also impressed along with the fans was also Lewandowski, and he said that he brings a lot to the team in every aspect.

"Luke is a great kind of a spark player," Lewandowski said. "He plays hard all the time, he doesn't just add spark, but he plays hard, he's a great shooter as you guys saw today. He loves to feed the post and he does a good job getting inside those big guys.

"He's a great just all around player."

There is no telling if these numbers will hold up, or if people can expect Tolbert and Adams to continue playing like this, but one thing is for sure.

Gillispie didn't know who would become household names, but now he has two and they are freshmen, which is another good sign for the future of Red Raider basketball.

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