Texas Tech Basketball had their best year ever in 2018. They went to the Elite 8 and were an injury away from truly competing for a Big 12 title. Then, they lost five seniors, a transfer and a first round draft pick.

Can a team who lost so much and only returns two starters hope to get back to the level of success they enjoyed in 2018?

Coach Chris Beard started to rebuild the roster by adding two grad transfers in Tariq Owens and Matt Mooney. He added another transfer from the JUCO ranks, national champion Deshawn Corprew. Then he got the top-rated recruit ever to join Texas Tech in Khavon Moore along with freshman Kyler Edwards.

At that point, it looked like the class was done. And then this week, Texas Tech signed a very intriguing prospect in French big man Joshua Mballa.

Mballa was born in Detroit, Michigan and raised in France. He then returned to the states to play at Putnam Academy, the same school that Malik Ondigo was recruited from.

Mballa is a 6'8" kid with a 7'1" wingspan, and his intangibles read like Chris Beard's dream player. A New England recruiting website described Mballa as a "6-foot-8 forward with a long and chiseled frame, he's a good athlete who plays with a high motor and has the potential to be a high volume rebounder, finisher, and versatile defender."

The Putnam Science Academy coach added this: "Josh is one of the toughest players that has come through our program. His combination of strength, athleticism and versatility makes him extremely unique. This is a late steal and a great fit for both Josh and Texas Tech. Coach Mark Adams did a great job of making a connection with Josh and was consistent in recruiting him all season."

A tough, high-motor, versatile defender? Sign me up.

Here is a full game of Mballa (24) and company winning the National Prep Championship last season.

Not only did Mballa play for Putnam, he also played in the EYBL and Adidas Gauntlet circuits in the states, as well as playing for the French National Team the last two summers.

Here's a game from his time with the French National Team in 2017. Mballa (6) had 10 points and six boards in 15 minutes of work. Yes, that's him on the featured image of the video below.

Despite being 6'8" and listed as a power forward, Mballa is generally guarding the perimeter in this limited amount of action I've seen. He will likely fill the role of Zhaire Smith as a long (he's longer than Zhaire) perimeter defender on the other team's most athletic player when he's in the game.

Again, there are many, many minutes to go around in 2019.

Anyone else getting really excited for basketball season?

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