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March 11, 2014

Red Raiders add JUCO PF

Tubby Smith's Texas Tech basketball program picked up a substantial commitment on Tuesday in the form of Missouri State-West Plains big man Justin Jamison. The 6-foot-9, 260-pound prospect picked the Red Raiders over offers from Florida State, Oregon, Pitt, SMU, TCU and others.

RRS: What made Texas Tech the right place for you?
JJ: "Everything about it, starting with Tubby Smith. He was there since day one. We had our jamborees in the summer time in Dallas and he was there watching the first game. He stayed and watched the second game. He watched me throughout the whole jamboree and he came out during the middle of the season, came out at the end of the season. He was in constant contact the whole time. I was in constant contact with Joe Esposito, the assistant coach. They were both great. They both kept in contact with me equally.

"That was one of the biggest things that was going to go into my decision was my relationship with the coaches and my relationship with the team. When I got on campus, it was a no-brainer for me."

RRS: This may be hard to quantify, but did you get a sense early on how big of a priority you were for Smith and his staff?
JJ: "Esposito was adamant from day one about how much not only wanted me, but how much they needed me, how much they loved me. They were serious about me being No. 1 on their board. Esposito was out to see me like six times. Coach Smith was out to see me three or four times. It was just one of those things. The love was there. I could feel it. It was right there in front of me. There was no doubt about that I felt like if I went there, I would be in the best hands possible. They care about me and they want me to succeed personally and on the floor.

"When I got there and talked to all the people in academics -- everybody around that campus is so passionate about Texas Tech and so passionate about the sports programs. Not only football. It's a football school, but in basketball, they have an under .500 record this year but you go to the Texas game and over half the arena is filled. They're up in the rafters screaming their heads off. It's a great environment and I just wanted to be a part of it.

"The team is going to do some special things. Like they say, they're building a monster there. I want to help build it. I didn't want to go to a school where they already had something built and I was just coming in to be another piece of the puzzle. I wanted to go somewhere where there wasn't that big of a basketball tradition there and I came in and I helped build that thing."

RRS: I've heard you spoke with Chancellor Kent Hance, President Duane Nellis and other officials during your visit. How much of a role did that play in your decision?
JJ: "That was another thing. It wasn't just the basketball coaches or anything. When you walked into a room and met somebody, you could tell that those people really, genuinely cared about you. They genuinely wanted you there. The Chancellor was so great. I love the Chancellor so much. He's a great guy. He came up to us and introduced himself at the basketball game. He was always telling us how much they wanted us. He mailed handwritten letters home to our parents and told them how much they wanted us to be Red Raiders. The President was so excited about the direction that everything is going.

"Like I said, they had an under .500 record this year and the buzz on campus for basketball was crazy. This is going to be something special here. I can feel it."

RRS: What is their plan for you? How are they going to use you once you get to campus?
JJ: "They want just want me to come in this summer and get better at every aspect of the game. They can use me in any way possible. I can step out and hit a three. I can play with my back to the basket. I love to bang down low and get rebounds. I can even stretch the floor and hit a three or whatever.

"I think that me and Jordan Tolbert, we really connected on the visit and we really had a good time on the visit. I feel like me and him are really going to play well off of each other -- we can both kind of stretch the floor, we can both come out and set the screens. With the way they run their offense, the four and the five kind of have to be interchangeable the way they hard hedge and switch on ball screens and stuff."

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