TCU is learning a lot about its four new players, and its four new players are learning a lot about NCAA Division I basketball.
But to TCU coach Trent Johnson, it’s already clear what he has in new point guard Malique Trent.
“He’s not afraid to try to make a play when it means something,” Johnson said. “That’s a good thing.”
Trent, perhaps the most talented recruit in Johnson’s latest class, is second on the team in scoring and assists and first in steals during a 3-2 start for the Horned Frogs, who host No. 22 SMU (4-0) on Wednesday night. He has started every game and has played the third-most minutes.
It’s all new to him, but he’s doing fine.
TCU coach Trent Johnson, on point guard Malique Trent
It’s the contribution expected from the player rated the No. 1 combo guard in junior college last season and named the NJCAA freshman of the year.
“It’s a good quality in anybody, in any sport,” Johnson said of Trent’s willingness to make a play. “The kid’s a player, whatever you want to call them, that aren’t afraid to try to make plays within the confines of what you’re doing offensively and defensively.”
Trent’s shooting percentage is only 37.3 percent, and he’s made only 8 of 32 shots from 3-point range. But Johnson said part of that is because he — along with fellow newcomers Vladimir Brodziansky, Jalen (JD) Miller and Lyrik Shreiner — are seeing better competition than they’re used to.
“It’s all new to him, but he’s doing fine,” Johnson said. “He’s very coachable. His body language sometimes gives you the impression that he’s not engaged. But he listens. He’s very engaged. You look at him, you look at Vlad, you look at Jalen, all those guys, it’s all new to them.”
In three wins, TCU is 71-for-96 on free throws. In two losses, the Frogs are 33-for-46.
Brodziansky leads the Horned Frogs in points (13.4 per game), rebounds (7.4) and blocks (2.0).
Veteran junior guard Brandon Parrish is third in scoring (11.0) and is 10-for-13 on 3-point shots.
The other starters through the first five games have been guard Chauncey Collins and center Karviar Shepherd. Off the bench, Devonta Abron is averaging 8.2 points and 4.6 rebounds.
189 Games played between TCU and SMU, with SMU leading 104-85, but 15 of the past 23 have been won by TCU. The former SWC and WAC rivals have played every year except two since 1921.
The Horned Frogs averaged 75.6 points against what Johnson called a challenging schedule that has included South Dakota State, Rhode Island and Illinois State, each postseason teams last year, and that now will add a fourth such team, SMU, on Wednesday night.
“Do I like their willingness to listen and learn? At times. Do I like our toughness on 50-50 balls? At times,” Johnson said. “That speaks volumes to why we’ve won three games and lost two, because we’ve been inconsistent at all those things. There are two games that if we take care of the ball, if we rebound, if we do things with a sense of urgency, there’s probably two games that we could have won.”
TCU men vs. SMU
7 p.m. Wednesday, FSSW