With basketball season tipping off this Saturday, it’s time to take stock of the team the Frogs will be putting on the hardwood this season. Today we’ll be taking a look at the TCU backcourt, with a preview of the forwards and centers coming later this week. So without further ado, let’s dive into some player previews. All statistics per KenPom.
#25 Alex Robinson (Jr, Mansfield Timberview)
2016-17 Stats: 11.2 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 5.8 APG, 42/33/63 shooting splits
After sitting out a year following his transfer from Texas A&M, A-Rob was perhaps the most important new addition to the team last year. Jamie Dixon loves guards who can run his offense out of the pick and roll, and Alex is the perfect point guard to do so. He racked up the assists, nearly setting a TCU single season record and having his 32.5% assist rate ranking 38th among all qualified players in the country last year. It was clear how key he was to Coach Dixon’s offense, as he was on the court for 82% of his possible minutes, the highest on the team. Looking to this upcoming season, it will be important for Alex to shoot the ball at an effective clip. His 46.2% effective field goal percentage ranked last on the team, largely due to his 63% free throw shooting. This eFG% fell to 44% during conference play, as his three-point shooting was under 30% during the Big 12 slate. Alex is a dynamic player, however, and there’s reason to believe that in year two he will be more efficient scoring the ball. Robinson really is the engine that makes the offense run, and his expected improvement is a big reason why TCU is ranked highly in all the preseason polls.
#0 Jaylen Fisher (So, Bolton HS [TN])
2016-17 Stats: 9.9 PPG, 1.9 RPG, 4 APG, 39/38/75 shooting splits
If Alex Robinson was the most important newcomer last season, Jaylen Fisher was likely the most exciting one. Fish was the top rated basketball recruit in team history, a 4-star prospect ranked #69 in the 247sports composite. Just watching his play as a freshman it was easy to see the raw athletic ability that landed him that ranking. Fish hung with veteran point guards like Frank Mason and Monte Morris, which was no small feat for a freshman. He led the team with 38% three-point shooting, and under Coach Dixon’s tutelage there’s little doubt he’ll continue to improve. He needs to cut down on his turnovers (26% TO rate led the team) and be more efficient within the arc, as he shot only 44% on 2 point shots. The advanced stats were also not favorable, as his 97 offensive rating also ranked last on the team and well below the team’s 112.1 rating. However, considering Jaylen’s physical attributes and Jamie Dixon’s knack for coaching up offense, there should be no concerns about his progress moving forward. If he can cut down on the turnovers and generally up his efficiency, his ceiling is perhaps the highest on the team.
#1 Desmond Bane (So, Seton Catholic [IN])
2016-17 Stats: 7.1 PPG, 2.9 RPG, 1.9 APG, 52/38/78 shooting splits
Desmond “not a freshman” Bane quickly became a key contributor off the bench for the Frogs, scoring at a super efficient clip (58.7% eFG led the team) and providing key depth when Jaylen Fisher got hurt at the end of last season. Bane was a high school phenom, averaging 30+ points per game at his Indiana high school, and it was clear from year one that his top trait would be his scoring ability. He’s built like a linebacker for Gary Patterson at 6’5 210 and can bully smaller players to score. His three-point shooting took a harsh dip during Big 12 play, converting only 29% of his 28 attempts. 28 attempts is not a huge sample size, and Bane’s invitation to the tryouts for the U-19 national team should give Frog fans hope that he can take another step this next year. Bane is one of my favorite players on the team, and I think he is poised to be the breakout player on this squad.
#22 R.J. Nembhard (Fr, Keller HS)
2016-17 Stats (Keller): 26.4 PPG, 6.5 RPG, 3.2 APG
Nembhard is the kind of player that TCU is pulling in more reliably under Jamie Dixon, and it should pay dividends both this season and beyond. Nembhard is a fantastic athlete who led Keller to one of their best seasons in recent memory, and was rewarded by being the #10 ranked player in Texas by the 247sports composite. His build is similar to the San Antonio Spurs’ Dejounte Murray, with a slim build and a long wingspan. At 6’4, he should be able to play both guard positions and spell Robinson and Fisher against opposing bench units. He has a knack for putting the ball in the basket, but since arriving on campus he has been working to retool his jump shot. Nembhard should have a very productive freshman season and in the long term is a player to watch as an all-Big 12 level talent.
#2 Shawn Olden (Jr, New Mexico JC)
2016-17 Stats (NMJC): 16.6 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 1.7 APG, 38/37/66 shooting splits
Olden comes from the same junior college that produced Kenny Hustle, and that alone should be enough to get Horned Frog fans excited about one of the more experienced newcomers to this team. Olden started his career at Pepperdine, having a breakout freshman year before leaving the team following his sophomore year. Olden is a scorer first, using a good chunk of his team’s possessions and trying to establish a rhythm early. He’s a smooth lefty that should get some open shots within the flow of the offense. He can shoot the 3 ball well (37% last year) and can finish in the paint through contact A good player comparison from what I’ve seen would be Jamal Crawford.
#20 Dalton Dry and #33 Clayton Crawford
Dry and Crawford are both walk-ons who aren’t expected to see much playing time outside of blowouts and the early non-conference slate. Dry is a local kid from Fort Worth Country Day who has played 39 games over his three year TCU career. His career averages are 0.5 points per game, 0.46 rebounds per game, 0.1 assists per game on 28.6% shooting. Crawford is on his second sport at TCU, as he was a former member of the golf team with a lifetime best score of 65 (-7).