TCU's maiden voyage in the Big12 was not a particularly enjoyable one for TCU fans. Trent Johnson inherited a Mountain West roster and is in the process of trying to significantly upgrade the talent. He inked the 34th rated recruiting class in 2013 so there is some hope that he will do that if given time. His first season resulted in a 11-21 record (2-16) in the Big12. He did have a couple of wins against NCAA tourney teams that were a bit shocking. The first one was a 62-55 victory over #5 Kansas. It has the distinction of the victory with the largest disparity in RPI spread in college basketball history. Kansas' RPI was #7. TCU #236 heading into the game. TCU also upset Oklahoma near the end of the season.
There were injury and academic problems for TCU before Big12 play. Two starters were casualties. Amric Fields had a season ending injury in non-conference play. Jarvis Ray was declared academically ineligible. Ray will be a senior this year. Fields will be a junior. The news did not start well this year for the Horned Frogs. Devonta Abron- who averaged 7 points and 6 rebounds last year as a sophomore tore his achilles during an exhibition tour in Europe. Aaron Durley- a redshirt freshman also tore his ACL which is the second year in a row for him. Both are expected to miss the season.
Trent Johnson's record as a coach is 237-205. He has taken three different programs to the NCAA tournament: Nevada, Stanford and LSU. He was a hot coaching commodity after going 28-8 at Stanford and then 27-8 at LSU in back to back seasons. But his last three years at LSU (40-54) have taken some luster off his star.
Johnson's teams have tended to be more efficient defensively than offensively. According to KenPom, his teams have finished in the upper 1/3 defensively each year (except last year at TCU where they were 172 in defensive efficiency). Johnson's staff at TCU consists of: Donny Guerinoni- who has spent the last 8 years with Johnson; Brent Scott- who has been with Johnson for 4 years and Kwanza Johnson- who spent time at Nevada and Georgia under Mark Fox- a former Johnson assistant.
5-11 175 lbs Kyan Anderson (JR)
Kyan Anderson was TCU's best player last year. He averaged 12 points; 3.4 assists and 1.4 steals. He shot 41% from the field; 35% from 3 point range and 72% from the free throw line. He is quick and a good defender. The Horned Frogs are optimistic that the talent around him will be better this year allowing him to shine and not attract so much attention from defenders. He seems to be a good game manager and leader.
6-2 185 lbs Michael Williams (FR)
Williams is from San Antonio. He's a solid point guard prospect who is well thought of for his toughness, leadership and basketball IQ. He is able to knock down open shots. He will be expected to back-up Anderson. The weaknesses are athleticism and being able to shoot off the dribble.
6-2 185 lbs Charles Hill (SO)
Hill logged 20 minutes a game last year as a freshman. He averaged 5 points and 2 rebounds. He has solid athleticism. But his KenPom offensive efficiency rating was below 80 (78.7). This doesn't give confidence that he will be a major contributor going forward.
6-2 180 lbs Clyde Smith (FR)
Smith is an athletic guard from the Hotchkiss School who had offers from Notre Dame, Boston College, Stanford and Iowa. He's a good student and a guy known for his basketball savvy. He had limited minutes as a freshman (10 per game) and didn't show good things offensively. He shot 21% from the field (18% from 3pt) and 46% from the free throw line.
6-6 195 lbs Jarvis Ray(SR)
Ray was academically ineligible last year. He is a likely candidate to start at the shooting guard position. In the first 10 games of last year, he averaged 26 minutes per game. He had 6 points and 2 rebounds per game. Like most of the players on TCU, the shooting numbers need work (32% FG; 20% 3pt; 56% FT).
6-2 175 lbs Christian Gore (SO)
Gore is one of the better shooters on the team. He logged 11 minutes last year- becoming eligible after the first semester. He shot 43% from 3 point range (6-14). He came from Brown University. Should be a valuable role player off the bench.
6-5 203 lbs Trey Zeigler (SR)
Zeigler was a top 30 recruit coming out of high school. He played for his dad at Central Michigan- where he averaged over 15 points per game as a freshman and sophomore. He was an athletic slasher who didn't shoot particularly well. He transferred to Pitt and gained immediate eligibility after his dad was fired at Central Michigan. His time at Pitt wasn't the highlight of his basketball career. He got a DUI and was suspended early on. He only averaged 4 points and 2 rebounds in 16 minutes per game when he played. He is hopeful that TCU gives him a fresh start. He will be eligible next year.
6-6 200 lbs Hudson Price (FR)
Hudson is the son of Mark Price- a college star at Georgia Tech and four time NBA All-Star. Price was one of the best shooters in the game. Probably no surprise that his son can shoot. But he's actually known more for his mid range game than knocking down 3's. His natural spot in college is probably as a small forward. He does a decent job of slashing and creating off the dribble.
6-8 255 lbs Devonta Abron (JR)
Abron is a physical guy who went for 7 points (53% FG; 60% FT) and 6 rebounds last year. He gives TCU toughness inside. He tore his achilles this summer which was a big blow to the Horned Frogs chances to compete in the Big12. He will sit out this year with a medical redshirt and have two more years left.
6-9 210 lbs Amric Fields (JR)
Fields averaged 10 points and 2.5 rebounds in 21 minutes per game as a sophomore. He had a knee injury early in the season last year and has been slow to recover this year. They will need much better rebounding numbers from him. Less than 2 rebounds per 10 minutes for a guy that is 6-9 is not good. He shoots pretty well from the outside- 34% from 3 point range; 51% from the field. He shoots 73% from the line. TCU is counting heavily on him to produce. Trent Johnson mentioned that 7 NBA teams have sent scouts to see him practice before his injury.
6-8 240 lbs Chris Washburn (FR)
I watched Washburn in AAU ball. He is the son of Chris Washburn Sr who was a manchild at NC State in the 1980s. He was chosen #3 in the NBA draft in 1986. Money and youth were a toxic combination. He was out of the league a few years later with drug problems. The dad has been drug free for over a decade. The son is a mobile big who can score and rebound. He averaged 4 points and 3 rebounds as a freshman for UTEP. But transferred to TCU after an assault of a bouncer at a nightclub in El Paso. He will be one of TCU's best players when eligible. He is asking for a waiver this year but the case looks like a long-shot.
6-10 270 lbs Aaron Durley (FR)
Durley is a project. He committed to Marquette originally. He played alongside Cameron Ridley (Texas commit) in high school. He is a physical player who they are hoping develops into a force along the frontline in the years to come. He was injured before the 2012-13 season (ACL) and unfortunately reinjured that knee this summer during the exhibition tour. He will miss the 2013-14 season.
6-6 185 lbs Brandon Parrish (FR)
Parrish is from Arlington, TX. He has a college ready body who has an ability to shoot, score and make shots off the dribble. His motor and effort have been the question marks. He has a lot of upside if he can achieve consistency in his mental approach to the game.
6-10 225 lbs Karviar Shepherd (FR)
I was able to watch Shepherd several times in AAU ball and with Prime Prep in Dallas. It was a big recruiting coup for Trent Johnson. He was #68 in the 247Composite Index in the 2013 class with offers from LSU, Louisville, Kansas and Texas A&M. He is a good shot blocker, rebounder and enforcer in the paint. He needs work on his skill set- particularly his hands. Johnson has a good track record with bigs including the Lopez twins at Stanford and was able to convince Shepherd to entrust his development into his hands.
Outlook and Questions
TCU was the worst team in the Big12 last year and it looks like this year could be a repeat. But they are upgrading the roster fast with transfers and better recruits. They are probably a year away from competing on a regular basis in the Big12.
Five questions for TCU heading into the season:
1. I'll ask the same question this year that I did last year. How committed is TCU to basketball and how much fire does Trent Johnson have to turn this program around? Johnson is 57 this year. Daniel Meyer Coliseum is undergoing a $45 million renovation next year which should be a huge step in the right direction.
2. How will this team improve on offense? Kyle Anderson is a Big12 quality offensive player. Who else is? Trent Johnson has been hyping Amric Fields but he is coming off a serious injury and didn't light the world on fire in the Mountain West. Shepherd will need time to develop.
3. TCU proved they could surprise some teams at home. But they were not competitive on the road. They lost every game by 9 or more on the road in Big12 play. Will they be able to improve in this area and steal some road games while winning a better percentage at home?
4. Will Kyan Anderson be a top 5 point guard in the league? He has the potential to be- but he will need to take a big leap to be in the upper echelon. If he does, TCU could surprise some people.
5. What constitutes success? TCU will have trouble getting to 5 wins in conference in my view. Is that the bar? If they win 5, does that give the program the momentum they need to take another step forward?
C: Karviar Shepherd 6-10 225 lbs (FR)
PF: Amric Fields 6-9 220 lbs (JR)
SF: Hudson Price 6-6 200 lbs (FR)
SG: Jarvis Ray 6-6 195 lbs (SR)
PG: Kyan Anderson 5-11 175 lbs (SO)
F: Brandon Parrish 6-6 195 lbs (FR)
G: Charles Hill Jr 6-2 185 lbs (SO)
G: Christian Gore 6-2 175 lbs (SO)