On Tuesday, we took a look at the guards on the 2017-18 Horned Frogs basketball team, and now we turn our eyes to the front court. There’s a ton to be excited about with this group, so we are going to get right to it. As always, stats per KenPom.
#34 Kenrich Williams (Sr, New Mexico JC)
2016-17 Stats: 11.4 PPG, 9.7 RPG, 2.7 APG, 50/36/59 shooting splits
What can be said about Kenny Hustle that hasn’t already been said? The man was a revelation this past season, evolving into a double-double machine after missing the entire 2015-16 campaign due to injury. He’s the most versatile player on the team, able to bang inside and grab rebounds (his 23% defensive rebound rate is insane for a wing player, ranking second best in the Big 12 last year), while still being able to step outside and play the perimeter. He was the team leader in steal rate, offensive rebound percentage, and defensive rebound percentage, in addition to being ranked second in offensive rating, minutes used, effective field goal percentage, true shooting percentage, and two-point field goal percentage. In short, the guy can really play. Kenny is the top NBA prospect on the team, as his rebounding ability and three-point shooting could make him a valuable asset. I fully expect him to be in the league at some point in the future, and I will call my shot here and now to say that he will be firmly in the Big 12 player of the year discussion come March.
#10 Vladimir Brodziansky (Sr, Pratt CC)
2016-17 Stats: 14.1 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 0.6 APG, 56/37/78 shooting splits
One of the most pleasant surprises of this past season was the emergence of Vlad as a legitimate force inside. He led the team in traditional counting stats like points per game, but also was an advanced stats darling with a team leading 123.4 offensive rating. All this led to a major honor for the Slovakian, as he was named to the preseason all Big 12 first team. It’s not hard to see why the other Big 12 coaches would have great respect for Vlad, as he tore up conference play, ranking in the top ten in nearly every offensive category (including #1 at free throw shooting at 87%), as well as ranking second in block rate. He’s a great combo of a rim protector who can also step outside and play the outside game, as evidenced by his 37% 3 point shooting. Vlad came into TCU stick-thin, and in the past that has been his biggest weakness against teams like Kansas who can throw Landen Lucas-types at him in the post. However, he has bulked up quite a bit every year, and this year I’ve been impressed by how he looks physically leading up to tip-off this Friday.
#15 JD Miller (Jr, Seagoville)
2016-17 Stats: 7.2 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 1.0 APG, 42/32/61 shooting splits
JD Miller can occasionally be the forgotten man with all the other big names taking the spotlight in the starting lineup, but his ability to contribute this season will be key to the Horned Frogs’ success. A former prized recruit of the Trent Johnson-era, Miller shows flashes of being a great threat on the outside. His 32% overall three-point shooting is not ideal, but during conference play he found his rhythm, converting 38% of his attempts. His size at 6’8 235 allows him to flex between both forward positions; his quick feet allow him to guard small forwards while his range can provide a mismatch for opposing 4s. The Frogs don’t need him to be a superstar averaging a ton of points a game, rather they need him to be a Brandon Parrish type who can knock down the open three and flow within the offense. He’s exactly the type of glue guy you need on team like this.
#12 Kouat Noi (RS Fr, Montverde Prep [FL])
2016-17 Stats: N/A (Redshirt)
Noi is the most intriguing player on this roster for me. The Australian product redshirted last season, but rumor around campus was that he was absolutely dominating in practice. He’s been praised profusely by Coach Dixon, and did very well in the summer exhibitions that TCU participated in in his native Australia. From the little footage I’ve been able to find, Noi appears to have a nice 6’7 frame that should suit him to either forward position. If he is as good as advertised, he may even push JD for his starting role, but we will simply have to see how he performs when the season tips off.
#23 Ahmed Hamdy (Sr, VCU)
2016-17 Stats (VCU): 5.9 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 0.2 APG, 48/0/62 shooting splits
Hamdy comes to TCU from a very successful mid-major program in the VCU Rams. He actually played one year of high school ball at Trent Internationale, but hails from Egypt. His usage rate is pretty high for a role player at 26%, meaning that he will try to score the ball if he gets it. He should be the primary initial backup for Vlad, playing a solid 10 minutes of good rebounding that he showed at VCU (22% defensive rebound rate was second on the team). He’s going to need to avoid fouls, as he averaged 7.4 fouls/40 minutes, and move the ball more than he did at VCU (3% assist rank was second to last on VCU and would have been last on TCU by 2%). Regardless, it’s really valuable to add an experienced grad transfer who has made it to March Madness before and can provide some solid minutes off the bench.
#21 Kevin Samuel (Fr, Redemption Christian)
Samuel was yet another four-star recruit that Jamie Dixon was able to pull into his first recruiting class, and he is literally a massive haul for the Frogs. The biggest player on the team at 6’11 275, Samuel has the look of a grown man at age 19, before he has even gone through a college S&C program. I couldn’t find statistics for his senior year, but based on his film, he should be an immediate force on defense if nothing else. Samuel is the kind of player who can anchor a defense, and should benefit from working with Vlad, who is a great shot blocker in his own right.
#45 Austin Sottile (Sr, St Louis U High School)
Sottile is another walk on who is unlikely to see a lot of minutes this season. Last year he made 12 appearances, averaging 0.5 points, 0.3 rebounds, and 0.1 assists per game on 75% shooting. He also made a half court shot during the purple and white scrimmage to win a fan $1000, which was pretty awesome itself:
Jack Spooner took home a $1,000 check signed by Coach Dixon, after this shot from Austin Sottile. pic.twitter.com/HZgHA5isna— TCU Basketball (@TCUBasketball) November 3, 2017
#13 Lat Mayen (Fr, Australia)
I’m really excited for Mayen, however we won’t get to see him this season as Jamie Dixon announced he will redshirt this season. We will get our first peek at the Aussie in 2018-19.