TCU basketball starts tonight. Why senior Desmond Bane is poised for big season

Nobody wants to be called selfish, but that’s an adjective TCU wouldn’t mind attaching to senior guard Desmond Bane this season. At least on the court.

Bane is the unquestioned leader of the Horned Frogs this season. He’s the team’s best scoring threat and the leading returning scorer in the Big 12. The team is going to run its offense through Bane and he’s ready to embrace that role.

Selfish or not, Bane knows he has to have a big year if TCU is going to make noise.

“I’ve kind of been an unselfish guy in the past and I wouldn’t say I’m going to be a selfish guy this year,” said Bane, who was named to the Wooden Award Top 50 on Tuesday.

“But a lot of the offense and things are run through me this year so it’s a little bit different look. I’m just trying to pick my spots and take what the defense gives me.”

Bane and TCU officially get the season started Thursday against Southwestern University. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Schollmaier Arena.

Judging by the preseason “secret” scrimmages, TCU will go as far as Bane takes it. He led the team with 17 points in 33 minutes in a scrimmage against Mississippi State last month, and then had 26 points against Washington.

Bane made five 3-pointers in that Washington game, an area he would like to improve upon. Bane shot 42.5 percent (68-of-160) from long range last season, averaging about 4.3 attempts a game.

He’d like to increase the number of attempts to six or seven this season. That’s something that will help the Frogs and boost Bane’s NBA stock. He tested the NBA Draft waters last off-season, but ultimately decided to return after hearing feedback from various scouts.

“They see me as a 3-point specialist,” Bane said. “The way our offense is run now, I’ll definitely get more looks. It won’t be an issue as long as we take care of business.”

Bane would also like to get to the free-throw line more often. He averaged just two free-throw attempts a game, but his priority is to be more aggressive from deep.

Either way, Bane has developed into the leader everyone throughout the athletic department raves about.

TCU athletic director Jeremiah Donati said he has been impressed with Bane’s drive to succeed and influence on the team.

“Desmond has the attitude and initiative to be successful in any thing he wants to pursue,” Donati said. “He’s a real pleasure to be around.”

Bane acknowledged the lure of pursuing a professional career after last season, but ultimately felt it was in his best interest to return for his senior season. The decision became easier once it became clear coach Jamie Dixon would be returning for a fourth season, rather than going to UCLA.

If Dixon had left, Bane likely would’ve followed. But both returned and are focused on getting back to the NCAA Tournament.

Dixon has high hopes for Bane, who averaged 15.2 points a game and shot 50.2% from the field last season.

“We’re really excited about him,” Dixon said. “He’s probably making more plays for other guys right now than I anticipated. That’s something that we’re going to use and have used in some of the scrimmages that we’ve had. That’s how we had some success in the scrimmages with him getting other guys shots and making plays for others.

“Obviously we’ve seen the shooting percentage and he’s a leading scorer in the Big 12. But I think we’re going to put him in a position to get other guys shots here more and I think he’s being more of a playmaker going forward. We think we’re going to put some other shooters around him, so I think it’s going to give us some room to play.”

As Dixon said, Bane won’t be able to do it all on his own. The Frogs like how sophomore center Kevin Samuel continues to develop, and the promise of newcomers such as UT Arlington grad transfer Edric Dennis and George Mason transfer Jaire Grayer, as well as freshmen Francisco Farabello, Diante Smith and PJ Fuller.

But it can’t be overstated — TCU is going to ride Bane as long as it can this season. As a leader and as a scorer.

“A lot of these young dudes, they want to be led and they want to win and they want to be good,” Bane said. “It makes my job a lot easier, just trying to really lead by example and taking some of those guys under my wing who need that. It’s been big for us for sure.”

Home-court hops

TCU is looking to enhance its game-day experience by now offering beer at basketball games.

The university is also trying to increase its home-court advantage. Along with the beer sales, the school made seating adjustments in an effort to get more students closer to the court.

“We think this could really enhance the home court environment,” Donati said.

A limited number of season tickets remain for men’s basketball. Prices start at $275.

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