Tubby Smith's second is likely a Texas Tech first. Alex Foster of Seton Academy in Chicago, Illinois is the second recruit of Smith's Texas Tech tenure, and becomes the first Windy City native to play basketball for the Red Raiders. Who knows what the future holds, but any inroads into the talent-rich Chicago basketball scene Foster's signature portends could only mean good things for the Tech program.
And Foster himself represents a highly respectable first step.
As a high school sophomore, Foster was regarded as one of the nation's top twenty-five recruits. And while his stock has diminished considerably from that lofty perch, Foster is still regarded as a very solid recruit.
At various points in his high school career Foster was recruited by Nebraska, Tennessee, Auburn, Wisconsin, Illinois, Northwestern, Purdue, Harvard, Notre Dame, Valparaiso, Rhode Island, San Jose State and possibly Memphis. He ultimately signed with Tubby Smith at Minnesota, but was granted a scholarship release after the Gophers fired Smith and replaced him with Richard Pitino.
Foster averaged a modest 11 points and seven rebounds per game as a senior, but did compete in the very tough 2A public leagues of Chicago. Those numbers would likely have doubled had he played in a typical district in Texas.
Foster is built very much like former Texas Tech forward Steve Miles. He is six-foot-eight and anywhere from 200 to 215 pounds. That's light in the britches to play the four spot, but Foster is surprisingly strong and physical for a player with such a slender physique. Combine that strength with a very nice mid-range jumper and it's quite clear that Foster will be able to play both forward positions immediately, and in time will probably grow into a pure power forward.
Foster is an honor's student, and had an offer to attend Harvard. Both facts speak to Foster's intelligence, and those smarts are borne out in his play. Foster is a polished, fundamentally sound player who does not rush; he lets the game come to him. He does a great job of holding the ball high while in traffic, and he does not put the rock on the hardwood unnecessarily. Many players never learn those basic basketball habits.
Foster is a southpaw with long arms, and he has good defensive anticipation, all of which allow him to be a pretty salty shot blocker. All in all, Foster appears to be a well-rounded player who will be an asset on both ends of the court.
Odds are very good that Foster will make an impact as a freshman. Tubby Smith would not have recruited him if he didn't think Foster fits his system well. That is an advantage he will have over every other player on the roster, with the possible exception of new point guard Rob Turner.
Foster will compete with Jordan Tolbert, Jaye Crockett, Kader Tapsoba, Dejan Kravic and Aaron Ross for playing time. His combination of strength and shot-blocking ability means that he could easily be Tech's best front-court defender the minute he hits campus. Offensively, Foster will lag Tolbert, Crockett and Kravic, which, given Tech's problems scoring last season, will militate against him getting huge minutes. Nevertheless, Foster is a very nice addition both to the roster and the Red Raider basketball family.