TCU, McNeese mine transfer portal in effort to return to winning ways

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TCU coach Jamie Dixon doesn't take losing too well -- no matter the circumstances -- and has taken steps to assure the Horned Frogs have the same attitude as they open their season on Thursday against McNeese State in Fort Worth, Texas.

The Horned Frogs were just 12-14 last year, the only time Dixon has suffered a losing season in his coaching career.

Yes, TCU's practices and player participation were affected by COVID-19 and injuries to several key players last season, but to make sure that doesn't happen again, Dixon has overhauled his roster, bringing in seven players from the transfer portal.

The Horned Frogs return only four players -- guard Mike Miles (who averaged 13.6 points per game last season as a true freshman), guard Francisco Farabello (who was limited to just nine games after advanced COVID-19 tests revealed a heart condition), forward Chuck O'Bannon Jr. (6.8 points) and center Eddie Lampkin, who played in just 10 games as a true freshman.

Xavier Cork (a transfer from Western Carolina), Damion Baugh (Memphis), Micah Peavy (Texas Tech) and Emanuel Miller (Texas A&M) have emerged as players who will contribute and grow together as the season progresses.

TCU is picked to finish eighth in the 10-team Big 12 but has outperformed its preseason league rankings in four of its five seasons with Dixon at the helm.

"Excited about our new guys and excited about the improvement of our returning guys as well," Dixon said. "It's wide open -- that's the message we've given our guys. It's up to us, just like every other team. We have the opportunity to go do it."

McNeese State, which plays in the Southland Conference, heads west on Interstate 30 after opening its season with an 86-62 loss at SMU in Dallas on Tuesday.

Brendan Medley-Bacon paced the Cowboys with 15 points in the loss, with Collin Warren adding 11 points and Myles Lewis taking 10 rebounds. McNeese State shot just 33.8 percent in the game and 27.5 percent in the second half, when it was outscored 47-31.

The Cowboys were 10-14 in 2020-21 and finished their season with a loss in the first round of the conference tournament to Southeastern Louisiana. McNeese will have a roster of 12 new players and will be under the direction of first-year head man John Aiken, who moves up after three seasons as an assistant for the Cowboys.

"We're seeing a lot of growth," Aiken said. "We've got a great group. They really believe in each other, and they believe in what we're doing. Every game is an opportunity to grow and that's what our guys have done. They've really embraced learning."

McNeese was picked to finish fifth in the eight-team conference. The Cowboys' have eight transfer players, led by returning guards Harwin Francois (7.7 points last season) and Zach Scott (3.6 points) with six coming in this season.

--Field Level Media