Over four years, four TCU seniors watched the Horned Frogs’ men’s basketball program move from humiliation to exaltation.
The seniors are Michael Williams (a 6-foot-2 guard from San Antonio), Brandon Parrish (a 6-foot-6 guard from Arlington); Karviar Shepherd (a 6-foot-11 forward from Dallas) and Chris Washburn (a 6-foot-8 forward from Grand Prairie).
During the 2013-14 season, the four witnessed no conference wins in Big 12 action. But this year, under first-year head coach Jamie Dixon, the four seniors were an integral part of one of college basketball’s biggest turnarounds.
They put everything — blood, sweat and tears — out there on the court for us seniors.
TCU senior Karviar Shepherd, on the younger players
The four played roles in the Horned Frogs’ 88-56 victory over Georgia Tech on Thursday night at Madison Square Garden as TCU clinched the school’s first ever National Invitation Tournament title.
“To be in this moment right now speaks volumes to our commitment and our hard work,” Parrish said. “We came into our conference season as a winless team. But we knew we’re not losers. We never felt like we were losers, and we continued to fight and work. We dedicated out lives to this program.”
The biggest factor about the senior class could have been their willingness to sacrifice individual statistics and personal achievements for the good of the team. At some point within past four years, all four of TCU’s seniors have been starters. But all became role players this year, surrendering the spotlight to younger guys, and did so with good attitudes and supportive outlooks.
The seniors ended up taking a back seat to talented younger players such as junior guard Kenrich Williams, who scored 25 points during Thursday’s NIT title game and finished as the game’s highest scorer.
We’re winners at heart. We showed it tonight.
TCU senior Michael Williams
Based on past seasons, Parrish and Shepherd made the biggest personal sacrifices in regard to playing time and starting roles. But all four of the seniors, including Washburn and Williams, were on campus in the 2013-14 season when TCU went 0-18 against Big 12 opponents. Parrish and Shepherd were freshmen starters on that team.
Shepherd said the team has come a long way since that humiliating 2013-14 season. He praised the younger star players.
“It means so much,” Shepherd said. “These guys put in so much hard work and dedication. They believed in us and we believed in them. They put everything — blood, sweat and tears — out there on the court for us seniors. The whole team just gave it all they could and we came out with a championship.”
Williams said he’s ecstatic about clinching the NIT title.
“It’s an unbelievable feeling,” he said. “We’re winners at heart. We showed it tonight [in the NIT title game]. To finish this way after all of the adversity is an incredible feeling.”
Dixon said the four senior players should have a great sense of accomplishment.
“They came to build a program and it took longer than they thought,” Dixon said. “But they did and now they can feel good about their commitment to their school.”