Joel Ntambwe returns to Texas Tech, adding another potent player to the mix | Zagsblog
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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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Sunday / September 20.
  • Joel Ntambwe returns to Texas Tech, adding another potent player to the mix

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    By ADAM ZAGORIA & ZACH SMART

    Three weeks ago, Texas Tech coach Chris Beard wasn’t sure if Joel Ntambwe would ever suit up for the Red Raiders.

    The 6-foot-9 Ntambwe, a transfer from UNLV, had been training in Miami with his younger brother Jonathan Kuminga and had not joined his teammates on campus. Kuminga announced last month he had signed with the NBA G League Select Team and will be moving to train with the team in Walnut Creek, Calif.

    But that changed on Wednesday when Ntambwe returned to Texas Tech, where he will presumably play the upcoming season. Beard confirmed by text that Ntambwe was back on campus after it was first reported by Zach Smart.

    “Joel was understanding of the fact that going back to Texas Tech was the best possible avenue for him and his future,” said a source close to the situation.

    “He has an opportunity to be a very good player on a really good team. He got a flight and has returned and we are happy he came to this conclusion and is ready to move forward.”

    A native of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ntambwe averaged 11.8 points and 5.5 rebounds during his freshman season at UNLV two years ago. He started all 31 games for the Runnin’ Rebels and added 11 blocks and 16 steals.

    Ntambwe gives the Red Raiders a versatile threat. He’s able to handle the ball like a guard and create offense. He possesses high-level scoring capabilities and has rapidly improved his deep jumper.

    Footage of Ntambwe playing against former Kansas State star and ex-NBA player Michael Beasley in Miami this summer shows is indicative of his now dependable shooting.

    Since he came to the United States, Ntambwe was regarded as a unique talent with his size and passing ability. He’s also pretty well-traveled. Ntambwe spent time at the now-defunct Forrest Trails Academy in North Carolina, Believe Prep, Aspire Academy, and others.

    He was heavily recruited by then-head coach Marvin Menzies and signed with UNLV after his senior year at Aspire Academy in Kentucky.

    Ntambwe joins a tremendous team at Texas Tech led by transfers MacMcClung (Georgetown) and Marcus Santos-Silva (VCU) and a top recruiting class highlighted by Prolific Prep guard Nimari Burnett.

    “All these guys are special,” Beard recently told John Fanta in an interview. “I love talking about all our players. With Nimari specifically, we’re proud to have Nimari as our first McDonald’s All-American in program history. He added: “We like our roster, we like our chances. But that consistency is our No. 1 objective.”

    Asked about the time frame of the season starting due to the pandemic, Beard said he’s optimistic there will be college basketball. “Ultimately, do I think we’ll play basketball?” he said. “I do.”

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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.