Manager's note: This week, we will be publishing trial posts from our FOW finalists. With over 60 applicants, thanks to those who sent an email. This piece is by Dalton Goodier; enjoy!
Last season TCU's traditionally dormant program began taking baby steps towards respectability by going undefeated out of conference, winning more conference games than it had in its first two years of Big 12 play combined, and won a Big 12 tournament game for the first time in school history. Still, the season ended on a difficult note as the NIT Selection Committee decided that TCU's resume wasn't quite strong enough for an invite into the second-tier postseason tournament.
Although there were some positive developments for the team as the season wore on, the program is still a ways away from getting out of the conference cellar and being a quality program. Here, we'll take a look at this off-season's to-do list for AD Del Conte and Coach Johnson as they prepare to take the next step forward.
1. Get out of the Wilkerson-Greines
Last season the men’s team played their home games twenty minutes off-campus at the Wilkerson-Greines Center, a court more suited for high school play.
This year the payoff for that sacrifice is coming as the Daniel-Meyer Coliseum is reopening after a 63 million dollar renovation is completed and the new arena opens up to fans and players alike. Gone will be the outdated facilities of old. Finally, the basketball program will have the same luxuries of top-notch infrastructure and capability that the football and baseball programs have. TCU is a metroplex school playing in a major basketball conference. Now, the school can add quality facilities to its recruiting pitch.
Moving back into the refurbished DMC should not only give the Frogs a recruiting boost, it should also instill a measure of passion and pride into a student section and fan base that has been lukewarm to the program in recent years.
2. Replace Kyan Anderson's production
Kyan Anderson finished his career in the purple and white at or near the top of nearly every statistical category a guard can touch. He is among the program’s career leaders in steals, assists, points, games played and started, free throw percentage, and minutes played.
With Anderson gone, someone will need to step up and give the Frogs at least some of those numbers or the program will take a step back next year. In addition to a couple of guards coming into the program, veterans such as Chauncey Collins, Hudson Price, and Brandon Parrish will be looked to as possible heirs to Anderson’s throne.
Especially interesting is the case of Collins. Last year as a true freshman Collins averaged less than ten minutes and four points per game. However, as a high schooler in Oklahoma he displayed the ability to score in bunches and flashed some of that potential early in the season, scoring ten or more points several times before spending most of the stretch run on the bench. If his game can adapt to the athleticism and tenacity of Big 12 defenses, he may well be the answer at point guard.
3. Find a leader
In addition to his numbers, Anderson was also the heart and soul of the team. His steadying leadership presence led the Frogs through coaching changes, conference transitions, and the beginning of the DMC renovation project. Now it will be up to new captains Kenrich Williams, Chris Washburn, and Karviar Shepherd to step into that role.
Coach Johnson recently tweeted that the three would be next season’s captains and while the three have been solid contributors and have brought the right attitude to the court, at least one of them will have to provide a sense of veteran leadership. Whether these quieter, workmanlike players become more vocal or maintain a lead-by-example style remains to be seen but their continued maturation will be a difference-maker in the Frog’s 2015-2016 campaign.
4. Fill out the recruiting class
TCU has already received commitments from two guards and a small forward and is hoping to add a big man to the mix to round out this year’s recruiting class. Malique Trent, Lyrik Shreiner, and Jalon Miller have committed to the Frogs while post Chris Boucher is currently sitting on an offer.
Malique Trent redshirted at Norfolk State, transferred to New Mexico Junior College, and has now signed with the Frogs. In doing so he passed on offers from Tennessee, Kansas State, Houston, and Creighton. During his lone season of play in New Mexico he averaged 16.4 points per game on his way to earning JUCO All-American Honorable Mention honors.
Lyrik Shreiner is a 6’4 guard out of Arizona. Rivals and Scout have him listed as a three-star recruit and he possesses the explosiveness and range to vie for playing time next season. Shreiner also held an offer from Louisville but committed to TCU in March.
Jalon Miller is the only recruit to have signed an official Letter of Intent, having inked with the Frogs during the early signing period in Novemeber. At the time, Coach Johnson called Miller TCU’s "number one target" and said that Miller "will give us scoring and rebounding from the wing position. He will have a great impact on our program and we are looking forward to being a part of his continued growth as a basketball player." A four-star recruit according to ESPN, Miller is a DFW native.
The battle for Chris Boucher seems to be down to Minnesota and TCU. At 6’10, Boucher would be a solid get for the Frogs simply because of the additional depth he could provide down low. The Frogs have been very small over the last few seasons and although last season represented a marked improvement in that regard, Coach Johnson knows he needs a constant influx of size in order to compete in a league as competitive as the Big 12. Boucher is a JUCO prospect out of Northwest College in Quebec and would look to have an immediate impact.
The Frogs are continuing to recruit well under Johnson and bringing in a fairly large class with players who can contribute right away has been a priority for the program. Shortly after the conference tournament, Coach Johnson and the program declined an offer to compete in a lower-tier postseason tournament and Johnson hit the recruiting trail shortly thereafter. With several key players graduating, those efforts will be key for the program going forward.
Last season marked a period of transition for the Frogs. A staple of the program, Anderson, is gone and it'll be up to a whole new crop of Frogs to make sure the renovated DMC marks a new era of excellence for the program. While the team is still a season or two away from truly consistently competing at a level we’d like to see, CDC and Coach Johnson have quite the offseason ahead of them where they can continue to lay the foundations for sustained success.