Sports

Seniors driven to succeed, change perception of TCU men's basketball

The day before TCU defeated its second top 20 opponent in 11 days, senior forward J.R. Cadot offered up the key to beating then-No. 18 New Mexico.

"It's going to be a game where everyone has to contribute," he said. "It's not just going to be me, Hank [Thorns], or Craig [Williams]. It's going to be everybody. We're going to have to play collectively as a team defensively and share the ball."

Cadot's pregame analysis, which predicted exactly how the Horned Frogs eventually defeated New Mexico by 19 points on Saturday, wasn't exactly groundbreaking. But what set it apart was the conviction and determination in his voice. He wasn't just trying to say the right thing, the cliché. He, like his teammates, including seniors Hank Thorns and Craig Williams, believes.

Cadot, a native of Nassau in the Bahamas, transferred two years ago from Sheridan College, with a dream of helping turn around the TCU basketball program with Thorns, who transferred three years ago from Virginia Tech.

The Frogs (17-12, 7-6 Mountain West) will finish the regular season against No. 21 San Diego State (23-6, 9-4) at 6 p.m. Saturday at Daniel-Meyer Coliseum.

TCU is 6-0 at home in conference play with wins over then-No. 11 UNLV and New Mexico. A win Saturday against the Aztecs would give the Frogs three wins over Top 25 teams in a season for the first time. It would also boost their chances of earning a postseason tournament berth. The turnaround is exactly why Cadot came to TCU.

"I wanted to be a part of a change," Cadot said. "My whole life I've been an underdog and the TCU basketball program was the underdog. That's why I signed up to come here. We were looking forward to reaching some kind of tournament and going out and switching how people look at basketball here at TCU. We wanted to change that perception."

Thorns, who likes to take credit for getting Cadot to choose TCU after shepherding Cadot's campus visit, said the two bonded that night two years ago. Thorns admires the desire and determination to succeed that Cadot, Williams, Nate Butler and Cheick Kone had after growing up in often poor environments. Williams is from St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands, Butler is from Puerto Rico, and Kone is from Mali.

"I love that guy," Thorns said of Cadot. "I respect their struggle and what they've been through. They can teach me so much and I learn from them every day."

Part of what Thorns loves is the zeal with which Cadot plays. Already naturally gifted, his quickness is enhanced by his exceptional drive to outwork the opponent. His lightning-quick hands have come up with huge steals late to seal TCU's last two victories. His extra effort can be infectious.

Cadot's play was one of the few bright spots Tuesday during the Frogs' 71-59 loss at Wyoming. He led with 11 points and had five rebounds. He's also resilient and remains a positive force on the team. TCU's ability to shrug off debilitating losses has been one of its strengths this season. Much of the credit for that goes to the seniors -- Cadot, Thorns and Williams.

"If we had let those losses affect us we wouldn't be in the position we are now," Cadot said. "Just being mature and teaching these young guys no matter what happens we still have a chance."

The three will be recognized Saturday during Senior Night. All three hope to finish their TCU careers in the postseason, something the Frogs haven't seen since 2005.

"Being a senior there's just this desire in you... I've never felt this desire before to win, win, win, and play in a postseason tournament," Cadot said. "We want it so much. I've just tried to go as hard as I could these last couple of games because, in the end, you can't get it back. You want to be able to look yourself in the mirror and say I gave it everything I have, no matter what the outcome is."

Even without a postseason berth the Frogs will finish with a winning record for the first time in seven years.

"I'm happy personally that I was able to contribute and be part of the team that switched the program around," he said. "And I'm happy we've proved people wrong."

Stefan Stevenson

817-390-7760

Twitter: @FollowtheFrogs

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