For as long as most of us can remember, TCU basketball has been very, very difficult to watch. So difficult, in fact, that many people have given up.
An 0-18 season in Big 12 play, and two conference wins since joining the Big 12 hasn't done much to stir up interest in the program, despite a new coach, a solid 2013 recruiting class and the promise of new facilities.
However, a lack of interest from most TCU students and alumni doesn't mean that the program isn't starting to head in the right direction, or at least has the potential to be competitive.
Yeah, yeah, that's a funny thing to say after going 2-34 in the first two seasons in the Big 12, but think of it this way. TCU had three wins this year over teams that made the NCAA tournament (Texas Southern and Tulsa, who they beat twice).
They pulled in one of the best recruiting classes in a long time, headlined by Kaviar Shepherd and complimented with Brandon Parrish, and Hudson Price. They have a true point guard who can also create for himself in Kyan Anderson.
They have a coach in Trent Johnston, who, while catching flak for two bad seasons here and fizzling out with LSU, has clearly installed a work ethic and sense of pride in a program that was clearly lacking under the previous few regimes.
And lest we forget, there were some serious injuries that hampered this team throughout the season, with Devonta Abron and Aaron Durley both missing the entire season, which contributed greatly to TCU's inability to rebound effectively.
However, the past is the past, and now it's time to look to the future, which, despite recent happenings, seems to be getting brighter. Besides Abron and Durley, who should join Shepherd, Anderson, Parish, and Amric Fields in contributing heavily to this team, there are three names TCU fans need to get comfortable with for the 2014-2015 season: Chauncey Collins, and Trey Ziegler.
If you haven't heard of Chauncey Collins yet, you're doing it wrong. The 3-star guard (as rated by 247 Sports) from Oklahoma City has been making huge waves during a breakout senior season that has seen him average over 30 points per game and score 50+ points twice, while leading his team to a homeschool state championship.
That's right, he's homeschooled, and plays in a league for which most folks don't hold much regard. Thus, he's been overlooked by a lot of the nation's top programs.
Don't let that fool you though, this kid can flat out play. One of his 50 point outings came against Midwest City, the second ranked 6A team in the state of Oklahoma, and the other, a 58 point showing in the Homeschool state championship, came against the No. 9 player of the 2014 class, UNC signee.
Watch his 58 point performance below (Collins is #1, Jackson is #44).
Collins will be a welcomed addition to TCU's front court, and should provide a legitimate scoring companion for Kyan Anderson. With Collins on board, there will be true depth in the backcourt, with Charles Hill Jr. and, as well as the next guy we're talking about, Trey Ziegler.
You may have wondered, why the heck is there a Pitt player as the banner photo on an article about TCU basketball? Well, that's because Trey Zeigler has had quite the trip across the country before finally ending up at TCU. A native of Detroit, Michigan, Zeigler began his college career at Central Michigan, where his father, Ernie Zeigler, was the head coach. In two seasons with the Chippewas, Ziegler averaged 16 points per game, scored 20+ points 19 times, and was a two-time All-MidConference player. His sophomore year he also averaged 6.5 rebounds per game, impressive for a 6-foot-5 guard.
When Ernie Zeigler was fired at Central Michigan, Zeigler transferred to Pitt, where his father's friend, Jamie Dixon, is head coach. Zeigler sat out a season, while still having two to play, and got on the court in 2012-13 for the Panthers. However, a reduced role that saw him getting only 15 minutes per game and averaging 4.4 points per contest left him frustrated, and he began looking for an opportunity for more time.
He found it at TCU, where he'll surely find plenty of playing time at the shooting guard position, and possibly time at small forward, depending on the lineup. He should remind TCU fans of a more-efficient version of Jarvis Ray.
Zeigler was a consensus top-30 recruit coming out of high school, and was the highest rated prep player ever to sign with a MAC program. As a senior in high school he held offers from Michigan, Michigan State, Oklahoma, Arizona, Duke and UCLA.
Chris Washburn will join TCU as Trey Zeigler did, among the transfer ranks, and he should have an immediate impact on the Frogs' rebounding ability when he steps on the court. The 6-foot-8 forward has three years of eligibility left after playing only one season for thebefore making the decision to transfer. According to multiple reports, Washburn left UTEP because he wanted to get closer to home (he's from Grand Prairie), and he didn't appreciate the way he was treated by a local El Paso television station when he was tied to an alleged bar assault in May of 2013.
Washburn saw limited time in his freshman season, another reason he transferred, as he averaged 4.4 points and 2.9 rebounds in just under 15 minutes per game. But a season of getting stronger and working on his game should make him an asset to the front court in 2014-15. Alongside Abron, Durley, Fields, and Shepherd, Washburn will bolster a rebounding effort that saw TCU get outrebounded by about 14 boards per game in the Big 12 this past season. Coming out of high school, Washburn was rated as the No. 119 player in the 2012 class and held offers from Baylor, Oklahoma State and Texas A&M, along with offers from UTEP and TCU.
So Frog fans, don't give up on the Trent Johnston era quite yet. This upcoming season could be a good one, as the Frogs add considerable depth to their roster, three (four, if you include Zeigler) legitimate rebounding threats and a pure scorer in Chauncey Collins.
No one should predict a Big 12 Championship or an NCAA Tournament appearance, but this team will absolutely be more competitive, and should win quite a few games. At this point, that's a major improvement, and we've all seen what positive momentum can do for a program.