After a heartbreaking loss, freshman delivering in clutch for TCU

TCU coach Jamie Dixon said freshman Desmond Bane has had “a lifetime” of experience over the past two weeks.
TCU coach Jamie Dixon said freshman Desmond Bane has had “a lifetime” of experience over the past two weeks. AP

It didn’t take long into his first March basketball for Desmond Bane to rise to the occasion for TCU.

Two weeks ago, the freshman guard made three free throws with two seconds left to beat Kansas at the Big 12 tournament.

Sunday, starting in place of the sidelined Jaylen Fisher, he played a season-high 37 minutes and made four free throws in the last 24 seconds of overtime to help win an NIT game at Iowa.

“He’s grown up after the Kansas deal,” TCU coach Jamie Dixon said.

It’s almost easy to forget, as Dixon put it, “He’s the guy that had the open shot against West Virginia.”

Ah yes, the open shot against West Virginia on Feb. 25 at Schollmaier Arena in a game that TCU believed it needed to win to make the NCAA Tournament. Bane missed at the buzzer, and the Frogs lost by a point.

He’s had a lifetime of experience in about two weeks, the ups and downs. I think he’s ready.

TCU coach Jamie Dixon, on freshman guard Desmond Bane

But games are funny about providing second chances. They almost always do, and almost always sooner rather than later.

“He doesn’t make it, is crushed, and then he’s on national TV winning the game,” Dixon said. “He’s had a lifetime of experience in about two weeks, the ups and downs. I think he’s ready.”

Bane will no doubt be counted on in a similar role at 6 p.m. Tuesday when TCU meets Richmond at Schollmaier Arena with a trip to Madison Square Garden for the NIT semifinals on the line.

The Horned Frogs earned one last game at home for seniors Brandon Parrish, Karviar Shepherd, Chris Washburn and Michael Williams, who all played a part in the win against Iowa.

TCU senior Brandon Parrish told him after the West Virginia game to be ready for his next chance.

“I remember after that West Virginia game, he was in the locker room with his head down,” Parrish said. “I went up to him and said, ‘You’re going to have moments like this, but don’t ever put your head down. You’re so talented, you should never let this affect another game.’ The biggest thing I told him was that I believe in him, and sure enough, he’s come through.”

TCU freshman Desmond Bane played a season-high 37 minutes on Sunday against Iowa, scoring 13 points with a career-best four assists and was 6 for 7 on free throws.

Bane said it helped.

“I was obviously down a little bit that I let the team down,” he said. “But there’s a lot of plays that go into a game, and the coaches and Brandon and the other seniors really had my back. Everybody kept telling me to keep my head up. It was tough at first, for sure, being a freshman — I’d never been in a situation like that. But I’ve moved on.”

Bane was no sure thing to be making an impact one way or the other this season. He was one of the last signees to Dixon’s first class, and at 17 when he signed, is the youngest player on the team.

A broken hand before his senior season at Seton Catholic High School in Richmond, Ind., kept him under the radar in recruiting, targeted mainly by Division II and small Division I schools, he said. He played AAU ball, but not to his full potential because of the injury, he said.

“I still couldn’t get a Division I offer until the high school season started, and then they just started flooding in,” he said.

21.8Minutes on average for Desmond Bane in five postseason games for TCU. In the regular season, he averaged 19.6.

Dixon credits assistant Ryan Miller for finding Bane.

But it was Dixon’s reputation that sold the deal.

“I knew his background. I knew he was a great coach,” Bane said. “Coach Miller and I formed a really close relationship. I knew they cared. And playing alongside Jaylen Fisher, right after he committed, I got in contact with him and we said, ‘Let’s do this.’ 

Which is what’s happened for them. Deep into their first March.

Carlos Mendez: 817-390-7760, @calexmendez

TCU vs. Richmond

6 p.m. Tuesday, ESPN2

Related stories from Fort Worth Star Telegram