College Confidential

For TCU’s Johnson, basketball recruiting generating good response

TCU coach Trent Johnson encourages his players during the first half of a game at West Virginia in January. The Horned Frogs lost 86-85 in overtime, one of the close calls in an 18-15 season.
TCU coach Trent Johnson encourages his players during the first half of a game at West Virginia in January. The Horned Frogs lost 86-85 in overtime, one of the close calls in an 18-15 season. AP

Trent Johnson said he has gotten good response as he recruits in the wake of a winning season for TCU men’s basketball, and evidence is starting to roll in.

Sunday, New Mexico Junior College guard Malique Trent tweeted that he had committed to the Horned Frogs. The 6-foot-2 redshirt sophomore was the top-rated junior college combo guard in the country by 247sports.com, averaging 16 points and shooting 38 percent on 3-pointers for a 23-9 team.

He joins Lyrik Shreiner, a 6-4 shooting guard, in commiting to TCU. The Horned Frogs already have an early signee in Seagoville power forward Jalon Miller.

“In terms of how we’re getting received, it’s been very good. It’s been very good,” Johnson said. “Everybody has a different sell, but our sell is pretty good now. It’s pretty good.”

TCU is coming off its most successful season under Johnson, going 18-15 and winning four Big 12 games, including its first road win in the league, plus its first victory in the conference tournament.

Despite the loss of its two leading scorers, TCU is capitalizing on a sense of building momentum in its third year under Johnson, plus a renovation of the basketball arena that is scheduled to be complete in time for the start of next season.

“It’s interesting. I was on the road in Hutchinson, Kan., recruiting right after we got beat in the Big 12 tournament, and I had more people in that area come up and talk about how they like our team, our program, the direction we’re headed,” Johnson said. “Based off what – three close losses to Kansas, two wins against K-State? I don’t get caught up in it. I know we made big strides, big improvements. We still have a long way to go. But the response has been good.”

Trent and Shreiner are expected to step into the vacancies left by point guard Kyan Anderson, who finished as the school’s sixth all-time scorer, and Trey Zeigler, their go-to player in conference.

The Horned Frogs return the bulk of their team, including starting forwards Kenrich Williams and Chris Washburn, starting center Karviar Shepherd and sixth-man forward Brandon Parrish. Williams and reserve center Link Kabadyundi both had knee surgery after the season.

“We’re still in a situation where we have to get better players than what we have now,” Johnson said. “It’s the same old thing. There are going to have to be some guys who make this commitment that have a lot of courage, because this league is not for the weak. Our deficiencies as a basketball team, our ability to pass and catch and our basketball IQ, and then obviously our ability to shoot the ball, has to be improved.”

But Johnson is encouraged. His message may be paying off.

“If you want to be held socially, academically, athletically accountable, if you want to get a very, very prestigious, very, very good education, if you’re into being very unselfish and being all about a team and being all about an institution, if you want to be challenged day in and day out, this is the place for you,” he said. “But there some guys in here that have a lot of work to do in the spring and summer.”

Carlos Mendez, 817-390-7407

Twitter: @calexmendez

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