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Late 2016 Culver committed to Texas Tech, where he would kickstart his college career. As a freshman Culver averaged 11 points, 5 rebounds and a steal starting 20 of a possible 37 games. Whilsr shooting 38% from the perimeter and 45% from the field. His total 229 points scored in conference play, broke the big 12 freshman record set back in 2005.
It wasn't until the next year as a sophomore, where not only Culver but texas tech had a breakout season. He came into the pre-season as a big 12 honorable mention, and was one of 20 players to make the 2019 jerry west award watch list. With departures of Zhaire Smith and Keenan Evans, Culver was forced into a leading role his second year, now starting all 38 games. Culver upped his averages to 19 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists and 1.5 steals. But while he improved his field goal percentage to 46%, his three point shooting fell to 30%.
Even still, Culver led the red raiders to a share of the big 12 regular season title, and was named big 12 player of the year at the end of the conference play.
But it wasn't until the NCAA tournament, when Culver's draft stock really propelled to lottery status. Culver recordered a near triple double against northern kentucky in the first round, the second round his double double saw them past #6 seed buffalo. Culver 22 points was instrumental in the red raiders historic upset over the #2 seed michicgan wolverwines in the sweet 16. Which led to another upset in the elite 8, when Culver's 18 points bested the efforts from Rui Hachimura's #1 seeded Gonzaga Bulldogs.
Though from that point onwards, Culver really began to struggle, scoring just 10 points on 3/12 shooting in their final four win over Michigan State. Culver's struggles continued in the national championship game, where his 15 points of 5/22 shooting. Wasn't enough to seeout Virginia, who became national champions in their overtime victory over texas tech.
Still though, Culver's body of work from start to finish of his sophomore season. Makes him one of the top prospects in this years draft class. He led Texas Tech to their first ever National Title game while also securing the school’s first-ever Big 12 title. He was the lynchpin in an all-time great defense while carrying the load on offense. His basketball IQ and selflessness are evident on both ends of the floor, and his defensive prowess is infectious.
At 6’6 195 pounds with a 6’10 wingspan, Culver has a great body for a 3-and-D wing. He proved that he can lock down the best opponents while also taking on a considerable offensive load. Coming into this season, Culver wasn’t high on many draft boards. He was vastly considered as a player with a lot of potential, As the season progressed, Culver proved how much he improved over the summer and worked his way to lottery pick consideration.
Culver is one of the most well rounded and versatile wings in this draft. He was one of the best defenders in the country, becausoe of his size and instincts that allow him to guard nearly every position on the floor. His impact and consistency on the offensive end has drastically improved And despite the percetanges Culver can stretch the floor and is at his most dangerous when attacking the rim. Culver’s skill set is one that will fit in perfectly with any style. He is a great individual and team defender who also makes big-time plays on the offensive end.
While it is incredibly easy to fall in love with Culver’s game, there's still skeptism about how his shot will translate to the NBA, and if he'll ever be a number one option because of it. Culver struggled to create space against college athletes, and he won’t find it any easier in the NBA. His reformed shooting mechanics are promising but still have leaps and bounds to go in order to be reliable. We’ve seen plenty of success stories with players reworking their shot, but the long list of failures tilts the scales away from optimism. Culver will need to focus on becoming comfortable with this new shot. Once he does so, he could turn into an elite 3-and-D wing.