TCU Basketball saw their second player declare early for the NBA Draft Thursday, as small forward Kouat Noi made himself eligible, telling Drew Davison of the Star-Telegram “I’m all-in. I feel like it’s time to go. I could definitely stay another year, but I feel like it’s my time. I’m ready to go to the next level. It’s going to be a hard process, but I’m 100 percent confident in myself.”
Noi made the announcement via twitter as well:
I would like to thank God, my family, coaching staff, fans, and my teamates for being apart of my life. With that being said, my time here at TCU has come to an end and I have decided it’s time for me to pursue my career as a professional basketball player, thank you!#Gofrogs pic.twitter.com/GMp6qIYy1f— Kouat Noi (@KouatN) April 12, 2019
Kouat Noi arrived at TCU in 2016, a David Patrick recruit signed out of Montverde Academy (FL) by way of Newcastle, Australia. Standing 6’7” and weighing 205 pounds, the lanky forward redshirted his first year on campus before establishing himself as an effective sixth man as a freshman. As a freshman, he played in 33 games, starting nine, averaging 22 minutes per contest. Noi dropped 10 points and collected four points per, shooting nearly 50% from the field and 43.4% from three in his first collegiate action. In year two, he improved across the board; though his three point percentage dropped to 36%, he added more of a driving/slashing element to his offensive arsenal and became a much improved rebounder and defender, averaging nearly 14 points and five rebounds per.
Though he struggled with injuries and illness throughout the season, he was still the Frogs’ second-leading scorer, and had more made threes (74) than any other player for TCU. Noi’s issues in his sophomore campaign were mostly related to his inconsistency on the offensive end of the floor; though he had 14 games where he scored at least 15 points and six that saw him drop at least 20, he scored in single-digits in five of his final eight games as a Frog - going scoreless against Kansas State in a loss before scoring just four in a win at Texas.
Noi certainly has the skillset that the NBA desires - he could be a perfect 3 and D wing off the bench at the professional level. But he won’t likely be ready to do so in 2019. He does not show up on any of the pre-draft rankings at this time, and with the NBA having only 30 draft slots, he is unlikely to draw one. The G-League has 27 teams and a four round draft, so that could be an option for him, but it’s more likely that he starts his professional career in an overseas league. He would be eligible to receive a draft grade and return to TCU, but seems to have made it clear that is not what he desires to do.
Additionally, a former Frog has also declared for the NBA Draft, three year TCU point guard Jaylen Fisher. Fisher is also unlikely to be drafted - his injury history will scare most teams away. But he could be a G League or overseas candidate as well, as is probably more ‘ready’, when healthy, to contribute to a high level pro team. But it’s a big if that he can stay healthy for a full season - something he was not able to do at TCU. Fisher played in just eight games this season, scoring 12 ppg while shooting 44% from three point range.
Noi’s decision is a surprising one to most, and certainly hurts the program. Noi and Bane would have been one of the best 1-2 scoring punches in the Big 12 next year, and now Jamie Dixon faces the prospect of not having either. The Frogs return RJ Nembhard, Kevin Samuel, Kendric Davis, and Russell Barlow, and should get Lat Mayen (Noi’s cousin) back off of the DL in the fall. They have three players signed in the class of 2019 - PJ Fuller, Diante Smith, and Francisco Farabello. That leaves them with 8-9 scholarship players for the fall, and potentially three slots to fill. Jamie Dixon has been transparent that he will be combing the transfer portal looking for experienced options. TCU could also choose to keep Owen Aschieris on scholarship after awarding him one for the rest of the semester in January.