The TCU Horned Frogs lost their heart and soul in Mike Miles but retooled strongly using the portal as they look to capture the Big 12 title for the first time in school history.
As is tradition, CBB Review is again ranking the top 100 teams heading into the new college basketball season. Each day, we will reveal the next team until we reach the team slotted at number one. Follow along with #CBBRank on all our social media channels.
Jamie Dixon and TCU are building something special. From 2000-2021, the TCU Horned Frogs didn’t advance in the tournament once. Now, they’ve done it in back-to-back seasons. Last year, they finished fifth in a really competitive Big 12 conference. This year, with the pieces they have, the Horned Frogs are aiming for more.
It all starts in the portal, as Dixon went hard and brought in five guys to replace the five that left. The five coming in are significantly better than the five going out, including Jameer Nelson Jr., who averaged 20 PPG last season. They also bring in two Big 12 guys in Avery Anderson, a talented scorer from Oklahoma State, and Ernest Udeh, a former highly touted recruit from Kansas that showed flashes at times.
This team has revolved around Mike Miles the past few years, and finding that new “it” guy might take some time, but the talent on this roster is more than enough to make up for it. Combine that with an easy non-conference schedule and a favorable conference schedule, and this TCU team can shoot up the AP Poll throughout the season.
TCU plays Georgetown, Arizona State, and Clemson in the nonconference, all teams that we project to either miss the tournament or be on the bubble. They play in the Diamond Head Classic, in which they are far and away the best team in the tournament. In conference play, they only play Kansas once, albeit on the road. They only play Houston and Texas once as well, and both are at home. The only other team ahead of them in the CBB Rank is Baylor, who they play home and away. If you’re TCU, you have to be thrilled about this, and this will give them a major boost in those games.
Click here to learn more about our preseason top 100 teams heading into the 2023-24 college basketball season.
Head coach: Jamie Dixon (21st season, 8th at TCU)
2022-23 record: 22-13 (9-9)
2023 postseason finish: NCAA Tournament Round of 32 Exit
Notable departures: Mike Miles (Graduated), Damian Baugh (Graduated), Shahada Wells (Transferred to McNeese State), Eddie Lampkin (Transferred to Colorado)
Notable non-conference games: @Georgetown (Dec. 2), Clemson (Dec. 9), Arizona State (Dec. 16), Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic (Dec. 21)
PG: Avery Anderson III (6-2, 170, Sr.)
2022-23 stats: 11.1 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 3.4 APG, 1.5 SPG, 82.3 FT% (Oklahoma State)
SG: Jameer Nelson Jr. (6-2, 205, Sr.)
2022-23 stats: 20.6 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 3.6 APG, 2.4 SPG, 44.5 FG% (Delaware)
SF: Chuck O’Bannon (6-7, 220, Sr.)
2022-23 stats: 7.7 PPG, 1.9 RPG, 3.4 APG, 1.0 BPG
PF: Emanuel Miller (6-7, 215, Sr.)
2022-23 stats: 12.3 PPG, 6.5 RPG, 1.7 APG, 0.9 SPG, 0.9 BPG, 50.5 FG%
C: Ernest Udeh Jr. (6-11, 260, So.)
2022-23 stats: 2.6 PPG, 1.8 RPG, 0.3 APG, 75.6 FG% (Kansas)
6: Micah Peavy (6-8, 215, Sr.)
2022-23 stats: 7.0 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 1.2 APG, 1.0 SPG
7: Trevian Tennyson (6-3, 180, Sr.)
2022-23 stats: 15.7 PPG, 2.3 RPG, 1.2 APG (Texas A&M CC)
8: JaKobe Coles (6-8, 215, Jr.)
2022-23 stats: 8.6 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 1.2 APG
9: Essam Mostafa (6-9, 250, Sr.)
2022-23 stats: 12.4 PPG, 10 RPG, 0.9 APG (Coastal Carolina)
10: Xavier Cork (6-9, 235, Sr.)
2022-23 stats: 4.4 PPG, 2.6 RPG, 0.4 APG, 57.7 FG%
TCU Horned Frogs MVP: Jameer Nelson Jr.
On a team with no clear MVP, Nelson is the safe answer. Last year, Nelson was unbelievable, averaging 20 points on the offensive side, and 2 and a half steals on the defensive side. He had four 30-point games last season, including a 39-point performance on 62% shooting in conference play. All of this was enough to name him a top-ten transfer this past offseason according to On3.
He’s not the best three-point shooter, shooting just 30.7% last season, but showed improvement towards the end of the season, making three or more in four of the last seven games of the season after accomplishing this feat just 3 times in the 22 games prior.
Obviously, jumping up from the mid-majors to arguably the best conference in college basketball might take time. Delaware played just one Power 6 opponent last year, Duke, and Nelson scored just 10 points in that game. The season before, he scored 8 points against Villanova on 3-of-13 shooting. So, be patient with Nelson. If he doesn’t score 20 points in a nonconference game, it doesn’t mean he won’t end the season as TCU’s best player. We know he has NBA DNA in him, and his game should translate to the next level.
TCU Horned Frogs make-or-break player: Ernest Udeh
Let’s flash back to the 2021-2022 postseason, when a freshman big named Eddie Lampkin was willing his team to a potential upset against the top-seeded Arizona. Obviously, that didn’t work out for the Horned Frogs, but it proved how valuable a good center can be on this TCU team.
Ernest Udeh is a former McDonalds All-American and a player many Kansas fans saw as the next Udoka Azubuike. Luckily for the Horned Frogs, Udeh fell into their lap after Kansas landed Dickinson, leaving a major opportunity for the Horned Frogs to get a star. At 6-11, 260, he has the frame to be a force down low on both ends of the floor. He won’t leave the paint, but he won’t need to.
We haven’t seen much from Udeh though. He only played 250 minutes the whole season, and his “best” game was a 10-point 2 rebound performance. So, what if he is a nonfactor? TCU has depth with Coles, Cork, and Mostafa, but having Udeh be a high-level player is the difference between a second weekend appearance for the first time since 1968 and another early offseason.
Key analytic: Three-Point Percentage
Last season, the TCU Horned Frogs shot 31% from deep, good for 330th in the country. Let’s see who they brought in to fix the problem.
Jameer Nelson Jr. – 30.7% 3P shooter
Avery Anderson III – 18% 3P shooter
Trey Tennyson- 40.2% 3P shooter
Ernest Udeh – 0% 3P shooter
Essam Mostafa – 0% 3P shooter
Tennyson is a nice pickup, but besides him, they didn’t go out and address this issue at all. Instead, they’ll have to rely on the midrange, post, and driving games of their players. In the past, that worked since Miles was so difficult to guard and mastered the mid-range game. With him gone, defenses are able to clog the paint, making the shot quality very difficult for the Horned Frogs. They’ll need Nelson to step up and start making them at a higher rate, or Tennyson to provide enough value on both ends of the floor to earn his spot in the starting lineup.
Another note is the experience. With the exception of Udeh, every player projected to be in the rotation is an upperclassman. Experience matters in college basketball, and we see the best of the best teams led by seniors each year. If TCU wants to be competitive in the Big 12 and be a national contender, they’ll have to rely on their experience, especially once the calendar flips to March.
TCU Horned Frogs 2023-24 projections
Projected conference finish: 5th in the Big 12
Projected postseason ceiling: NCAA Tournament – Elite 8 Exit