With the TCU basketball season kicking off tonight against Southwestern, it’s time to take stock of the roster that will represent the Frogs this year. While Parker has a nice write up previewing the schedule and advanced stats (check out his great preview here), I will be looking at each player individually and telling you what to expect this season. This article will cover both the few players we’ve come to know and love, but also introduce you to the whole host of new talent joining the team this season. Without further ado, let’s dive into the 2019-20 TCU men’s basketball roster!
#1 Desmond Bane - Senior from Richmond, IN
2018-19: 15.2 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 2.4 APG, 1.1 SPG, 0.5 BPG, 50/43/87 shooting splits
Oh Des, what can I write that hasn’t already been written? Bane’s scoring led the team last season, and he has begun to attract national attention, as ESPN named him the #21 player in the country in their preseason preview. Anyone who has watched the Frogs over the past three seasons knows that Bane is a deadeye shooter who can catch fire at any moment. As the ESPN article mentions, he had a major performance on the national stage when he dropped 30 points on Nebraska in the NIT. He’s never been afraid of the big moment, drilling the game winning three against Oklahoma State and a crazy buzzer beater to send the Kansas State game into overtime.
Desmond Bane hits a HUGE 3 for TCU..— BettorIQ (@BettorIQ) March 14, 2019
TCU beats OK State 73-70 pic.twitter.com/Wb2cUhnCEo
Oh, and did I mention that those games were both in the Big 12 Tournament? Des has ice in his veins.
Bane declared for the NBA Draft this past offseason to test the waters, and it’s not hard to see why. His strong frame allows him to guard bigger players than you would expect for a 6’5 guard, while he has also stuck on the perimeter and been the Frogs’ best option against quick guards like Trae Young. His shooting speaks for itself (43% career three point shooter, 57% inside the arc), but his supreme athleticism is obvious when he gets a head of steam. If Kenny Hustle carved out a niche in the NBA by crashing the boards, Des has a shot if he can develop into a nice 3&D bench player.
With ball-stoppers like Kouat Noi and Kendric Davis moving on, the offense will run through Des more than ever before. Bane took a bit of heat last season for disappearing from games, but this season the entire offense will be built around him. It wouldn’t surprise me if he clears 20 points per game with ease. A next step for him will be developing his game off the dribble; I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw a little bit of Bane at point guard this year. However he’s used, Frog fans need to get out and appreciate Desmond Bane this year.
#21 Kevin Samuel – Sophomore from Barbuda
2018-19: 7.4 PPG, 7.0 RPG, 0.6 APG, 0.6 SPG, 2.1 BPG, 67/0/44
Kev had quite the freshman season, blocking over two shots a game and shooting the second best percentage from the field in team history. Samuel is the prototypical five, protecting the rim, setting screens, and sealing on the roll. While the NBA has started moving away from that type of player, in college his size alone will be too much for many teams to handle. His post-game isn’t fully developed yet, but he flashed a nice righty hook and I imagine will take a big step forward this season. As a rim-roller he’s dangerous with a head of steam, and the Frogs will definitely need him to give a little more on offense this season.
Samuel manning the backline has to have Coach Dixon confident that, at the bare minimum, the Frogs will have a top interior defense in the Big 12. As raw as he was on offense, Kev is a finished product on defense, blocking shots and clogging up the lane against the slashing wings of teams like Kansas. With a solid perimeter defender in Bane and Samuel handling inside, TCU will have at least two plus defenders in their starting lineup. In college basketball, that is a major asset, especially in non-conference play where other teams may only have one guy who is really going to hurt you.
#22 R.J. Nembhard – Sophomore from Keller, TX
2018-19: 4.4 PPG, 2.1 RPG, 0.9 APG, 0.5 SPG, 0.4 BPG, 35/30/62 shooting splits
Looking at the roster, I don’t think anyone has a bigger opportunity to breakout than R.J. A former prized recruit who revitalized Keller’s program, Nembhard has shown flashes of what he can do in the past. He has a nice array of moves to beat guys off the dribble, and shows natural slashing instincts that complement the perimeter game of Desmond Bane. His lanky frame and long wingspan give him the physical tools to be a pesky defender, just look at the game of Dejounte Murray to see what length and athleticism can do for you on that end of the floor.
With R.J., it’s all about the finishing touches. His shooting stroke hasn’t been consistent, but the ability is there as he showed in high school. His finishing around the rim has also left something to be desired, but should improve as he adjust to the physicality of the college game. It’s all raw talent for R.J., and there is a giant opening in the rotation for him to gobble up some minutes.
#34 Russell Barlow – Sophomore from Dallas, TX
2018-19: 0.3 PPG, 1.0 RPG, 17/0/0 shooting splits
Unfortunately, the January mass exodus of the roster forced the Frogs to burn Barlow’s redshirt for only eight games and 52 total minutes of action. It’s hard to get too much of a read on him from that time, so I’ll fall back on my analysis of him coming out of high school. He’s a thinner big man who has a nice shooting stroke and plays like a modern 4. His progression this season will be crucial to shore up the frontcourt depth behind Samuel. The Frogs will need to hope for Barlow to join the Vlad Brodziansky school of development, where he can maintain a strong base despite his slim frame. If Barlow develops into anywhere close the player Vlad was, he will be a major contributor for the Frogs this season.
#4 P.J. Fuller – Freshman from Seattle, WA
Hello, welcome aboard the P.J. Fuller hype train, my name is Christian, and I’ll be your conductor this season. In all seriousness, get ready for some exciting basketball when #4 is on the court. A highly touted 4 star recruit who played his high school ball in Las Vegas, Fuller is dripping with athleticism. Just look at the first dunk in his highlight reel and tell me this guy can’t get the Schollmaier rocking.
He has the size to play either guard position, though with Edric Dennis and Francisco Farabello in the mix I would expect him to stick off ball. His game reminds me of a raw, UCLA era Russell Westbrook, gobs of athleticism with a streaky outside shot. When he’s on though, expect the points to come fast and furious. I don’t know if P.J. will be the most effective true freshman on the roster this season, but I have little doubt he’ll be the most exciting.
#3 Francisco Farabello – Freshman from Argentina
Farabello comes in as a highly touted point guard prospect, the #13 player at his position in this most recent class. His pedigree doesn’t stop there; he represented Argentina in the FIBA U19s and is already drawing rave reviews from Coach Dixon and staff. I’d feel pretty confident predicting that if Farabello doesn’t start the season in the main 5, he ends up there by March.
I’m really excited to see how Farabello runs the offense. He’s got a reputation as a killer passer, and if he’s anything like his fellow Argentinian Manu Ginobili, we may see some flair to those passes. The scoring ability is still developing, but he’s far from bad. Considering he may be running out there with more ball dominant players, it may not be a bad thing if he takes a back seat in the offense in year one.
#10 Diante Smith - Freshman from Fort Walton Beach, FL
Smith enters as almost the forgotten recruit, but let’s not forget this kid was a 4 star talent who held offers that spanned the country. He’s a classic do it all combo forward, in my mind, a perfect JD Miller replacement. One area where he can really help: defense. He averaged over two steals a game in high school, and his strong frame and above average athleticism will let him guard essentially 1-5.
Coach Dixon has been raving about Smith this preseason; of all the newcomers, I think I’ve seen the most positive press for him. Given the complete decimation of wing depth for the Frogs, minutes should be plentiful for the young freshman. Like Farabello and Fuller, we will have to wait and see how he does against Division I competition.
#0 Mickey Pearson - Freshman from Lincoln, AL
Pearson arrives in Fort Worth via prep school, where he played a year instead of attending Saint Louis University. Pearson profiles similarly to Smith, though he wasn’t as highly touted nor have I heard as much about him from Coach Dixon. Every scouting report I’ve read emphasizes his strength on the glass and his defense, and it also helps he scored 26 points a contest in his senior year. Pearson may have to earn his minutes, considering he’ll be blocked by Smith in the rotation to start, but opportunity will definitely come knocking sooner or later.
#11 Taryn Todd - Freshman from Vaughan, Canada
A Canadian guard arriving via Las Vegas, Todd was teammates with PJ Fuller in high school. A 43% three point shooter, Todd can light it up from deep while having enough versatility to play either guard spot. If he plays a role this season, I expect it to be in the Patty Mills/Jamal Crawford bench-spark role. Other, more seasoned guys are likely to take up the minutes at pure point, but Todd is such a prolific scorer that he could be used as an X-factor to help pick up a stagnant Frogs offense.
#2 Edric Dennis – Senior from Dallas, TX (UTA Transfer)
2018-19 (UTA): 14.3 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 2.3 APG, 0.8 SPG, 0.1 BPG, 35/31/76
Dennis comes to the Frogs from another metroplex program: my hometown UT Arlington Mavericks. There Dennis was given the green light, and boy did he take it. This resulted in the whole spectrum of outcomes, from 30 point games to 2/10 shooting nights. I imagine his role will be dialed back a bit for the Frogs, since Dennis will be surrounded by superior talent (sorry, Mavs fans). Given that Dennis will likely start at point guard, I’m interested to see his ability to run the offense, especially because he wasn’t really asked to do so at UTA.
Dennis played his first two seasons of college basketball at Jackson State, where he was a more consistent three point threat than he was during his lone season in Arlington. All in all, Dennis has a shot to play on the biggest stage now, and Coach Dixon made it a point in his presser to say how much that means for Edric. I fully expect him to be an easy kid to root for, and hopefully the revamped TCU offense can help him shine this year.
#5 Jaire Grayer – Senior from Flint, MI (George Mason Transfer)
2018-19 (George Mason): 10 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 1.3 APG, 0.3 SPG, 0.4 BPG, 41/41/65
Grayer was a key player for George Mason, a three year starter before getting hurt only a few games into his senior campaign. Anytime you can take a solid contributor who has proven their worth at a mid major, you should do it. Grayer is a killer on the boards for a guard, and that’s in addition to his solid three point shooting. He’s disruptive if not overly flashy, in fact, he profiles similarly to Desmond Bane.
I’m excited to see what Grayer can do for the Frogs. The last grad transfer the Frogs took was Ahmed Hamdy, and I think I speak for all Frog fans when I say we could’ve used that type of player last season. At the very least, Grayer and Dennis can help out Bane and bring some senior leadership and culture to a young Frogs squad.
The Frogs have a ton of new faces, and this didn’t even include Jaedon Ledee or Kevin Easley, who have to sit out this season due to transfer rules. Anyone who tells you with certainty what kind of season this will be is more confident than I am. All I know is that I’m excited for the ride and am ready to back these Frogs old and new. Time to get out on the court and beat Southwestern.