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New Year’s Resolutions: 2021 Breakout Candidates

We saw some new faces take over in 2020 — who’s up next?

Austin Krob is one of the brightest stars on a roster full of them. He’s one of our 2021 breakout candidates.
Melissa Triebwasser

2020 introduced us to some shining stars in the Horned Frog family. We watched Lauren Heard dominate the Big 12 on the hardwood for TCU Basketball, averaging 18/6/4 for the conference’s #2 team and being named to the All-Conference team. We were introduced to true freshmen Quentin Johnston and Zach Evans, two gridiron giants who made their names known with big plays and plenty of highlights. RJ Nembhard when from a nice spark off of the bench to a legit #2 to a full-fledged superstar, and Gene Wood blasted five home runs in just 15 games in an abbreviated TCU Baseball season.

Now it’s time to turn the calendar and start to imagine who might be next — who we are going to think about this time next year as the future of the Frogs. For this exercise, we included only players who played for their respective programs at some point in 2020.

Here are a few nominations.

Mike Miles | TCU Basketball

Okay, okay, this one is kind of cheating. The true freshman point guard out of Lancaster was named Big 12 Freshman of the Week twice in 2020, and averaged nearly 15 points and five assists in 30 minutes of play through the ten games he played before the New Year dawned. But it’s pretty obvious that he’s only begun to reach his potential, and the ceiling is limitless for the young star.

Miles has quickly established himself as 1B next to RJ Nembhard for TCU Basketball, and when both are on the floor, it’s bad news for opponents. The Frogs are off to a surprising 9-2 start and the team picked to finish ninth in the Big 12 is 2-1 in conference play, having won their first two league road games for the first time in 23 years. Miles is a big part of that, and will be asked to play an even bigger role as the games get tougher over the next several weeks.

Other Names to Watch: PJ Fuller, Chuck O’Bannon

Tavy Diggs | TCU Women’s Basketball

Speaking of the hardwood, if you haven’t seen Tavy Diggs play, it’s time to jump on the bandwagon. Raegan Pebley’s team is a lot of Lauren Heard, but the senior point guard is watching her career wind down, and the Frog fans are looking for the next great player.

Let me present to you Tavy Diggs.

The sophomore from Richardson is all kinetic energy and potential, a 4* wing who has no idea how good she can be: yet. When you watch her play you see that she has “it”, a smoothness to her game, and inherent confidence, and the special abilities that take a player from good to great.

So far this season, she’s averaging 9/4/2 while shooting nearly 50% from the field. She’s still working to earn her coaches’ trust, especially on the defensive end, and with that will come more PT. She does at least two things every game that make you take notice, and when Heard graduates, she has a chance to step into the lead scorer role seamlessly for a squad that looks primed for years of strong runs.

Other Names to Watch: Kayla Mokwuah, Aja Holmes

Austin Krob | TCU Baseball

Frog fans most lamented the loss of the TCU Baseball season, as the Horned Frogs were red hot when the world shut down. Well, now, in 2021, we get the entire 2020 team back and add a crop of true freshmen and talented transfers to what might now be the deepest team in the sport.

While we have high expectations from guys like Haylen Green and Russell Smith on the bump, reports out of fall ball are that Austin Krob is the best professional baseball prospect on the roster: period. Krob, a 6’3” sophomore who spent a year at Kirkwood Community College prior to matriculating to TCU, made seven appearances out of the bullpen in 2020, striking out 15 in just 11.2 inning and allowing just seven hits and no runs. With a five pitch arsenal that includes a 94 mph fastball and a duo of breaking balls, Krob may well have the best stuff on the team. Schlossnagle called him a cross between Brandon Finnegan and Nick Lodolo. Pretty high praise.

Other Names to Watch: Tommy Sacco, Sam Thompson

Bud Clark | TCU Football

With Ar’Darius Washington and Trevon Moehrig off to the NFL, the Frogs will be looking for two safeties to take over in the spots of two superstars. Expect to hear a lot about Josh Foster and Nook Bradford, two guys that played well when forced into action multiple times this fall and have the athleticism and football IQ to be great.

But on sheer ability on paper, true freshman Bud Clark looks the part of future star. At 6’2” and 190 pounds, the Louisiana native is big, strong, and fast. A four star recruit, Clark was just outside the top 300 signees in the country, and though he recorded just three tackles in ten games this season, the potential just oozes out of him.

I fully expect Foster and Bradford to be “the guys” to start the season, but I have a feeling we will all be talking about Bud this time next year.

Other Names to Watch: Josh Foster, Earl Barquet

Grace Collins | TCU Soccer

Okay, okay, picking the 2020 Offensive Player of the Year and scorer of the game-winning goal in the Big 12 Championship game is absolutely cheating. But for a program that has mostly flown under the radar, bringing a little extra attention to a rising star is never a bad thing.

Grace Collins was a problem for opposing defenses during the Horned Frogs’ run to a title; the sophomore forward out of Houston led the Frogs with five goals, a career high and good for second in the conference. Three of those goals were game-winners, including her masterpiece in the defacto championship tilt. She was twice named Big 12 Player of the Week (Oct. 27, Nov. 10) in addition to earning National Player of the Week (Oct. 27) honors once, and quickly became a fan favorite for her footwork and smoothness around the goal. She will get a chance to introduce herself nationally when the NCAA Tournament is played this spring, where her Horned Frogs will have a chance to make a deep run.

Other Names to Watch: Marz Akins, Olivia Hasler

Alastair Gray | TCU Men’s Tennis

Gray became the veteran voice for a young TCU Tennis team that retained the high expectations that have been the norm under coach Dave Roditi. He had a firm grasp on the number one spot for the Horned Frogs as the only upperclassman on the team, and held up his end of the bargain in 2020 — winning 18 matches, delivering an 8-2 record in dual singles play, all at No. 1, and posting a 5-2 dual record against ranked opponents, including three Top 50 victories. He finished the year ranked No. 30 in the ITA singles rankings. He has a chance to elevate to superstardom in 2021.

Other Names to Watch: Luc Fomba, Juan Martín

Afedo Manyang | TCU Volleyball

The collegiate volleyball season was marred with cancellations and postponements, so many so that the Big 12 halted play midstream with plans to resume in the spring. The Horned Frogs struggled in the fall, going just 1-10 through their first 11 games, but the future looks bright in Fort Worth behind a bevy of talented young players. Though junior Katie Clark remains the team’s star, it looks like she will get some help with the team hits the hardwood again a few months from now.

The sophomore class for the Horned Frogs is incredibly strong; Julia Adams was a Big 12 All-Rookie team member in 2019 and was leading TCU in kills when play stopped and MyKayla Myers was putting a strong campaign together as well. But our breakout candidate for 2021 is Afedo Manyang, a Fort Worth native who was dominating the nets with 14 blocks in ten games and added 95 kills on a .211 success rate. Her 3.12 points per set were second best on the team.

The 6’3” middle blocker spent her wonder years at Everman High School, where she was an All-District First Team member four times and Offensive Player of the Year twice. As a freshman at TCU, she was second amongst first year players in blocks per set in the conference and led the team in blocks/set (0.95) and aces per set (0.22).

Other Names to Watch: Julia Adams, Kate Georgiades