As I enter year 5 of covering TCU basketball in Fort Worth, the Horned Frogs are facing lots of turnover after losing their two star guards Mike Miles and Damion Baugh to the NBA Draft. I previewed last year’s roster with some overlap of the current roster, but this year’s roster looks vastly different. Rather than many specialists with holes in their games, but noticeable strengths, this year’s roster seems to be a big upside play of collective athletes. How coach Jamie Dixon balances lineups to maximize strength & weakness will be big, and how successful this team is could impact how NBA teams evaluate their prospects for the next level.
The main sell of the TCU roster to NBA teams, Emanuel Miller opted to return to the Horned Frogs instead of entering the draft at the same time as his brother Leonard. While his 3P% did see a career high at 39%, he only attempted 51 3s and had a sub 70% mark from the free throw line, potentially pointing to fools gold. On the opposite end, the sell with Miller lies in his defensive abilities and versatility on the wings with outstanding athleticism. Miller is likely to be, at minimum, in Summer League next year, but will need to prove he can live up to an ‘off-ball and D’ label, which helps players like Miller that aren’t as strong from 3. As a good cutter that can finish above the rim well in traffic, Miller should see improvement at the rim in a context that doesn’t crowd the paint without demanding respect of defenses on the perimeter, making his rim attempts more difficult. If Miller can be a low volume shooter, efficient cutter, and capable defender, Miller should earn a two-way contract in the NBA when he declares for the Draft.
Ernest Udeh is a big transfer acquisition for TCU, coming from Kansas where he was unhappy with his role as a backup big man. Udeh showed many flashes on the defensive end, being mobile and capable of defending almost every position, along with active hands to force turnovers. While offense was a struggle at Kansas, his mobility at a listed 6’11 makes him someone NBA teams will want to see this season.
The son of former NBA champion James Posey, Jace Posey inherited his father’s high-flying athleticism. Posey struggled defensively in EYBL, but some issues may have been effort-based. The big question scouts have for the potential second generation NBA prospect is how he can fill in the rest of his game to best utilize his athleticism. His jump shot isn’t the most mechanically sound, so he will need to be a good shooter to stick out to NBA scouts as a pure off-ball wing. Posey flashed examples of quick creation off the catch, but will need to have that translate while being able to add isolation ability to create a unique role for himself on the wing. Jace is unlikely to be a one & done prospect, but could be someone that develops into a long-term prospect, using his plus athleticism to stand out against similarly sized wings.
Jameer Nelson Jr
Another NBA legacy, Jameer Nelson Jr comes to TCU from Delaware as an experienced guard that should run the TCU offense. Nelson is considered one of the top gets in this year’s transfer portal, likely ready to make the jump from Delaware in the CAA to TCU in the Big 12. Nelson has a similar play-style to Mike Miles, who was the alpha of the team last year. Nelson loves getting to the rim, has a variety of shot-creation moves, and he plays bigger than his size, but has question marks about his jumper. While he shot 61% at the rim, a good mark for a guard, he has a mixed bag of shooting: overall catch & shoot 3s: 23/74 (31.1%), with guarded catch & shoot attempts at 18/43 (41.9%) and open catch & shoot attempts being 5/31 (16.1%). Off the dribble, he also shot more difficult shots than he likely will at TCU, going 27/86 (31.4%). Lastly, runners can often be good indicators of shooting touch, and last year at Delaware Nelson shot just 2 of 17 on runners (11.8%). How much Nelson improves his shooting indicators will play a key role in determining his NBA Draft stock. Look for Nelson to be a strong candidate to join the Delaware Blue Coats of the G League, where Jameer Nelson is the assistant GM.
Manning excites scouts because of his defense, but at the same time scouts want to see his offense come along and have a more defined role. Manning was a productive spot-up shooter in the 3SSB Adidas circuit in 2022, and this 3&D potential seems to be Manning’s best route to becoming an NBA player at ~6’7.
Avery Anderson III
A scoring combo guard, Anderson comes to TCU in his final year of eligibility after four seasons at Oklahoma State. With passable defense, including active hands and quick recovery ability to handle drives, Anderson has potential to be a two-way guard. As a skilled space-creating jump shooter, scouts like Avery’s ball-handling ability, speed, and confidence getting to his spots offensively. However, they want to see him become more efficient, play under more control (by limiting turnovers and improving shot selection), and to prove consistent & repeatable mechanics on his jump shot.
O’Bannon returns to college for his 7th year, making him the veteran of the team. A 3&D wing, O’Bannon has been a key part of TCU’s stingy defensive identity over the last couple of seasons, as well as an important spot-up shooter on a team that has generally lacked shooters. Due to his age and not enough pop in his shooting numbers, it is unlikely O’Bannon gets more than a Summer League invite for his NBA hopes, but should see a successful overseas career.
Micah Peavy is a top 3 defender in the Big 12, being able to guard every position due to ideal wing size, outstanding instincts, and good athleticism with a motor that never stops. The drawback for NBA teams is that his jumper is too far away with minimal results (and a free throw percentage that has improved year-over-year, but has never eclipsed 65%), as well as poor finishing numbers despite the tools to be a good finisher. Peavy will latch on as a pro due to his lockdown defense, and if his work ethic drives him to continued year-over-year improvement that he has shown in college.
For what it is worth, I have talked with NBA teams at TCU games that say they are there to partially scout Peavy, having him on their radars since being a top 50 high school recruit in 2020. A couple NBA teams I have talked to love his defense, so he may be able to latch on as a defensive specialist for an opportunity in Summer League if the right suitor comes along. At a minimum, when Peavy declares for the NBA Draft he will be on the list of players agents don’t want their clients to have pre-draft workouts against.
One of the best energy bigs in the Big 12 last season, Cork should see an increased role with Eddie Lampkin’s departure. Cork is athletic, has a nonstop motor, and thrives as a roll-man in the P&R. While likely not an NBA prospect due to size, he still is someone that will have an important role with TCU, and will make the guards’ lives easier offensively.
JaKobe Coles had an important role in TCU beating Arizona State, scoring the game-winning layup in the NCAA Tournament. Beyond that, Coles has intrigued scouts for some time since coming to TCU as a shooter and undersized stretch forward. With a 79% clip from the free throw line, the 3 point shooting upside is clear for Coles in his senior season. On top of the percentage being a good indicator over his underwhelming career 3P% (30.7%), Coles has been working with player development coach Brian Adams this summer, and the results have had the TCU coaching staff impressed with Coles’ output in summer practices. If the jump shot comes along, Coles could emerge as someone scouts view as a deep-cut NBA draft prospect as a 6’7 shooter.