Spring 2021 Magazine

Texas Tech's Jarrett Culver feels God is with him while leading Red Raiders to Final Four

Texas Tech is enjoying its finest men’s basketball season ever. The Red Raiders shared the Big 12 conference title with Kansas State, Texas Tech’s first conference crown since 1996, when it was in the Southwest Conference. The No. 3 seed it earned for the NCAA Tournament matched the school’s previous best, and the 30 wins (and counting) are a program record. The Red Raiders will make their first appearance in the Final Four on Saturday, when they face Michigan State at 8:49 p.m. ET.

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The team’s best player all year has been sophomore Jarrett Culver, who was named the Big 12 Player of the Year. When he received that news via text from Red Raiders head coach Chris Beard, Culver was on his way to church.

“I was so excited,” Culver told ESPN’s Holly Rowe. “I was screaming gospel music. I got to church, told my parents. They were excited during church. It was pretty fun.”

Culver’s father, Hiawatha, serves as a pastor at Rising Star Baptist Church in Lubbock, where Texas Tech is located. The family moved to Lubbock when Culver was 3, and he chose Texas Tech over schools like Texas and Illinois, opting to stay close to home.

As a freshman last season, Culver averaged 11.2 points and helped guide the Red Raiders to their first Elite Eight appearance in program history. Now a sophomore, his 18.9 points per game lead the team. Through four NCAA Tournament games, he’s averaging 21.5 points and 6.8 rebounds. He also has the most defensive win shares (3.4) of any player in college basketball according to Sports-Reference.com, and is a projected lottery pick in the upcoming NBA draft.

During his rise, Culver has continued to lean on his relationship with Christ.

“It plays a big role,” Culver told The Athletic. “Before games, I’m praying and reading my Bible. It’s a routine now. I feel like God is with me on the court, and He protects me. It’s big for me.”

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