Keller Citizen

Keller basketball standout could help TCU men get serious

Keller center R.J. Nembhard recently gave his verbal commitment to TCU.
Keller center R.J. Nembhard recently gave his verbal commitment to TCU. Special to the Star-Telegram

This is why TCU decided enough was enough with its floundering men’s basketball program and hired Jamie Dixon in March.

Following a successful 13-year run at Pittsburgh, the TCU alum was asked to give basketball an identity. Well, Dixon scored his first win when Keller standout and national recruit R.J. Nembhard gave his verbal commitment to the Horned Frogs on June 30.

Pick your national recruiting service, and Nembhard (6-4, 190) is somewhere listed among the top 100 players. He has an explosive first step and can finish at the rim. He is very smooth with the ball in his hands. Nembhard, who can play the point or shooting guard, recognizes he had to keep working on his jump shot.

“TCU emerged at my leading candidate once my family and I built a strong relationship with the coaching staff,” Nembhard told The Lonnquist Notes. “What sold me was the coaching staff along with the academic and athletic opportunities I would benefit from at the school.”

The magnitude of this move won’t be recognized until November 2017, when Nembhard is on campus. But his faith in what TCU could become under Dixon is real. Nembhard did his research on Dixon and saw how the Panthers were a consistent winner in the Big East and later the ACC. If Dixon doesn’t come to TCU, Nembhard may consider this program out of courtesy and eventually go elsewhere.

TCU really hasn’t had much basketball success over the years. In fact, the program’s last NCAA tournament appearance was 1998. The Horned Frogs have played in March Madness only twice since 1971. Now in the Big 12, this is a basketball program hoping that all of the pieces are in place. The program renovated what was Daniel-Meyer Coliseum and turned it into the Ed & Rae Schollmaier Arena.

Dixon’s name can attract some instant success like Nembhard. Eventually, it’s going to come down to this program winning and becoming a factor in the league. Nembhard is also known as a pretty solid defender. Because of his length, he can guard three positions. As his offensive game matures, he will be able to offer more. He already doesn’t have a problem finishing at the rim.

“Dixon is a very humble and down-to-earth coach with a fiery style,” Nembhard said. “He expects a lot from his players but also teaches along the way. What clicked was seeing his winning attitude and seeing how the players all respond to him.”

Outside of Keller’s run to the 6A Region I quarterfinals in 2015, this news is one of the biggest events involving head coach Randall Durant’s program. The Indians are going to be good again in 2016-2017. With this decision presumably behind Nembhard, he is expected to sign his National Letter of Intent during the early period in November.

This summer he is with his select team, Houston Hoops, and preparing to go to Peach Jam in Georgia Wednesday-Sunday. In the meantime, While Nembhard and TCU have to wait for that union, it could eventually evolve into this local boy making good.

One more MLB draft signing

We would have been remiss had we not mentioned that former Colleyville Heritage standout Cody Thomas has moved on to the professional baseball ranks with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Selected by the Dodgers in the 13th round of the MLB free agent draft on June 11, Thomas bypassed the rest of his career at Oklahoma, signed for a $300,000 bonus and is with the Dodgers Rookie League team in Arizona playing where he was projected – the outfield. Through his first three games, Thomas was 2-for-7 (.286).

Between Thomas, Carroll shortstop Hudson Sanchez (1st round, San Diego), Justin Northwest right-hander Dustin May (3rd, Dodgers) and former Keller Fossil Ridge infielder Sheldon Neuse (2nd Washington), those four combined for signing bonus money worth $3.2 million.

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