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Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
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Thursday / January 17.
  • With Massive Game at MSG, Texas Tech’s Jarrett Culver Impresses NBA Scouts

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    By ADAM ZAGORIA

    NEW YORK — For all the hype surrounding Duke freshmen Zion Williamson, R.J. Barrett and Tre Jones coming in and out of Thursday’s game at Madison Square Garden, it was Texas Tech sophomore guard Jarrett Culver who had the best game of them all.

    Playing in front of a slew of NBA personnel, as well as Jimmy Butler and Trae Young,  Culver finished with 25 points on 9-of-21 shooting, including hitting four 3-pointers. That came one game after recording a career-high 30 last Saturday. He has now scored 20 or more points in five games and in double-figures in all 11.

    “This kid just put them on his back,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “Really good player, smooth, really smooth. It would be interesting what he’d do with a true point guard. He’s going to be a pro, he’s going to be a pro. He’s good. He looks like he’d be a great kid to coach.”

    The 6-foot-5 Culver is currently projected as the No. 16 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, per ESPN.com, and he certainly helped himself on Thursday.

    “Most NBA scouts I talked to believe that Jarrett Culver will be drafted somewhere in the middle of the first round even before his performance vs. Duke,” ESPN’s Fran Fraschilla told ZAGSBLOG. “But, it never hurts your stock to play well against a quality opponent on a big stage like the Garden.”

    Unlike the Duke freshmen, who were all playing their first games at the Garden, Culver already had a game there under his belt.

    “I played here last year and it was a great experience,” he said. “Big games like this—we all see it as an opportunity and that’s what we took it as.”

    Culver led the Red Raiders with 14 points and four rebounds as they took a 29-28 halftime lead. He shot 6-for-9 from the field with two 3-pointers in the first half.

    Culver drained his fourth 3 of the game and followed it with a dunk to give Texas Tech a 53-49 lead with 7:27 remaining and then had three free throws in the middle of the Blue Devil run.

    “He’s one of the best guys in college basketball,” Texas Tech coach Chris Beard said. “The secret is out. Jarrett Culver is a great player. And, what makes him really special is the kind of person he is, his character. He’s the real deal. The guy is like an old school student of the game. He’s in the film room more than anybody I’ve ever coached. He always wants to get better. He’s that fine balance between confident and killer, but he’s also the nicest guy in the world. He’s going to kill you in one-on-one at 10:30 a.m. on Sunday then he’s going to help you go to church at 11:15. He’s special.”

    Photo: Getty Images

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    Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle. A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013. He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.