One thing about new Texas Tech basketball coach Chris Beard—he’s sure making some waves. A returning roster featuring a core of solid Big 12 players has been augmented, reduced and totally reshuffled. And it’s not even June.
Beard quickly dipped into the JUCO ranks to sign All-American shooting guard Niem Stevenson, along with well-traveled junior college combo guard Shadell Millinghaus.
Soon thereafter, backup forward Rokas Ulvydas announced he was transferring from Texas Tech, and this prompted some concern about a sudden lack of depth in the front court.
That worry lasted less than a week. Beard’s latest coup is the commitment of graduate transfer Anthony Livingston from Arkansas State.
Following hard on the heels of Livingston’s pledge, Tubby Smith signee Keon Clergeot announced his decommitment from Texas Tech. The sense here is that Beard may have encouraged that decommitment inasmuch as he feels has bigger fish on the line.
But Livingston is the focus of this piece.
A 6-foot-8, 240 pounder originally from Washington, D.C., Livingston played prep ball at Stevens Prep Academy in Raleigh, N.C. in 2010-11, Beacon Prep in Atlanta in 2011-12, and after a one-year hiatus from organized basketball, played junior college ball at San Jacinto College in 2013-14.
Livingston spent his last two years in Jonesboro, Arkansas playing for the Arkansas State Red Wolves. Beard doubtless became acquainted with Livingston as both Beard’s UALR Trojans and Arkansas State play in the Sun Belt Conference. Indeed, one of UALR’s five losses last season came against the Red Wolves.
Regardless of the recruiting whys and wherefores, Texas Tech just gained a major talent. Livingston is ranked by ESPN as one of the top five graduate transfers in college basketball and it’s easy to see why.
Livingston has been remarkably consistent over the past two seasons averaging in the neighborhood of 16 points and 10 rebounds per contest in both years. That rebounding number is particularly impressive.
Livingston is not a deadeye shooter, connecting on only 43 percent of his field goals and 26 percent of his treys last season, but playing for a team that went 10-20 likely warped those shooting numbers. Nobody on the Arkansas State roster shot better than 48 percent from the floor.
Livingston did shoot 86 percent from the free throw line, however, and blocked a respectable 25 shots.
The video evidence shows that Livingston has an excellent mid-range baby hook, polished footwork around the hoop, and the ability to knock down the occasional 3-ball. Livingston doesn’t appear to have the greatest blow-by ability, but plays under control well enough to convert on penetration even when he doesn’t actually beat his man.
The addition of Livingston makes Tech’s frontcourt a house crowded with real talent. The only surefire starter up front will be Zach Smith, with Livingston, Norense Odiase, Aaron Ross, Matt Temple and Justin Gray all vying for starting roles. As of this moment, it is hard to recall a Tech front court with this much talent.
But while Livingston brings some serious game to Lubbock, he also brings a bit of baggage.
In late May of 2015 Livingston was charged with assaulting a Jonesville, Arkansas police officer. Livingston reportedly resisted arrest outside of a medical facility, and after punching an officer in the throat, was eventually arrested after being shot with a stun gun. Livingston was ordered to undergo a mental evaluation and to appear in court on June 29, 2015. The outcome of that court appearance is unknown, but whatever the result, it didn’t prevent Livingston from starting all 31 games for Arkansas State last season.