Basketball season tips off Wednesday, which means it’s time to take stock of the Frogs’ roster. We’re starting with the backcourt players. Most of the returning production from last season comes at these positions, but the departure of Shawn Olden means that young players will need to step up and provide quality depth.
Departures: Shawn Olden, Dalton Dry, Clayton Crawford
Newcomers: Kendric Davis, Owen Aschieris, Dylan Arnette
#25 Alex Robinson (Sr, Mansfield Timberview)
2017-18 Stats: 9.7 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 6.1 APG, 44/33/58 shooting splits
Robinson is the engine of the Frogs’ offense, and last season played as the only true point guard on the roster after Jaylen Fisher’s injury. He improved his finishing ability, and was best on the team at getting to the charity stripe. The crafty lefty will need to find a new pick and roll partner after the graduation of Vlad Brodziansky, but regardless he remains the best distributor on the team. Two key areas for Alex to take the next step in will be turnovers and free throw shooting. Robinson’s increased turnover rate made sense considering the playmaking burden placed on his shoulders, but this season he should be aided by the return of Fisher. His true shooting percentage increased from 48.7% to 50.4% from 15-16 to 16-17, so if A Rob can shoot even league average from the free throw line then he will be a far more complete offensive player.
#1 Desmond Bane (Jr, Seton Catholic [IN])
2017-18 Stats: 12.5 PPG, 4.1 RPG, 2.5 APG, 54/46/78 shooting splits
TCU’s breakout player from a year ago, Bane seems like a natural choice to structure the offense around. He was one of the most efficient scorers in the nation last season, leading the NCAA in 3 point percentage for a good chunk of the year and Big 12 play in true shooting percentage. He’s also going to be a key on defense, as he’s big enough to handle wings, yet quick enough to keep up with guards. One of the adjustments that Coach Dixon made against Oklahoma last year was sticking Bane on Trae Young. He is multi-dimensional on offense, equally good in transition and as a spot up shooter. If Bane can reliably create his own offense, he has a chance to become an even more special player than he already is.
#10 Jaylen Fisher (Jr, Bolton [TN]
2017-18 Stats: 12.3 PPG, 1.5 RPG, 5.4 APG, 50/44/84 shooting splits
Jaylen has the potential to be TCU’s best player. It will be all about staying healthy for him, as he hasn’t suited up for the Frogs since January 13. He has missed the preseason with an additional injury, as he did not suit up for the Purple/White Scrimmage. When he is on the court, he is a dynamic talent who elevates the TCU offense. He improved markedly from his freshman season, becoming very efficient on two pointers and yet another reliable threat from beyond the arc. He also cut down on turnovers, which was another point of emphasis in my preview from last season. He can handle the ball as a point guard or shift off ball, where his pull up midrange game can shine. Fish’s injury last year put a large burden on Alex Robinson, so hopefully he can get healthy and take TCU to the next level.
#22 R.J. Nembhard (RFr, Keller)
2017-18 Stats: 1.5 PPG, 1.0 RPG, 0.8 APG, 29/0/25 shooting splits
Nembhard had an injury that derailed his true freshman season, but he is back now after receiving a medical redshirt. He was a force at Keller high school his senior season and, despite his in game struggles last season, should be a solid bench scorer. He was the MVP of the scrimmage this past Friday, leading all players in scoring. The biggest thing to watch with R.J. will be how well his jump shot holds up. It looked like the coaches had worked on his mechanics in the scrimmage, and that could pay dividends for a player who will likely make his mark cutting to the basket. Additionally, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Nembhard become a key defensive player for the Frogs, as he has the frame and athleticism to excel.
#5 Kendric Davis, (Fr, Houston Sam Houston)
2017-18 Stats (Sam Houston): 22.6 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 6.6 APG, 79/51/82 shooting splits
Davis is an interesting prospect, as he is a true 4 star talent who was a 3 star solely due to his size. At 5’11, Davis is the smallest player on the team, but the stats listed above speak for themselves. At 79% shooting and 22.6 points per game, it is clear he knows how to pick his spots and still handle a heavy offensive burden. There will likely be an adjustment period for him as he learns to handle the taller and faster Division 1 players, but once he finds his groove he will be a key ball handler for the Frogs.
#13 Dylan Arnette (Fr, Dallas Carter) and #31 Owen Aschieris (So, Santa Fe Christian [CA])
Arnette and Aschieris are both walk-ons. Arnette is a local product from Dallas Carter, where he averaged 16 points per game and led the Cowboys to the playoffs. Aschieris played in the scrimmage, looking comfortable taking shots and working within the offense. He also competed in the three-point shootout, scoring 10 points.