Inside College Hoops: Jamie Dixon is recruiting at an unprecedented level at TCU
The former Pitt coach has secured commitments from three four-star prospects in the past four months
When Jamie Dixon accepted TCU's offer back in March to leave Pitt and coach the men's basketball team at his alma mater, the Horned Frogs had signed exactly one four-star prospect in the past 12 years.
Which is why the work Dixon is doing on the recruiting trail now -- with the help of his staff, of course, namely assistants David Patrick, Ryan Miller and Corey Barker -- is worth noting. Because it's literally unprecedented. And the latest bit of good news came this week when Kevin Samuel committed to TCU.
Samuel is a 6-foot-10 forward from Houston who is No. 84 in the 247Sports Class of 2017 Composite Rankings. He reportedly had scholarship offers from Texas, Oklahoma, Baylor, Texas A&M, Oklahoma State, so on and so forth. But Samuel picked TCU. And when he did he became the third different four-star prospect to commit to the Horned Frogs in the past four months, which represents the first time in history, far as I can tell, that three different four-star prospects have committed to TCU inside of a four-month span.
In other words, Dixon is off to a great start.
And it's a reminder of something I've been saying for a while, and that something is this: with few exceptions, there is no reason why any Power 5 school can't be relevant in men's basketball as long as it A) commits strongly to the sport financially, B) builds top-shelf facilities, C) hires the right coach who hires the right staff, and D) provides that right coach and his right staff with the resources necessary to compete.
TCU has done all of those things.
So now TCU has, under Dixon, secured commitments from four-star prospect Jaylen Fisher (No. 68 in the Class of 2016), four-star prospect R.J. Nembhard (No. 118 the Class of 2017) and, most recently, Samuel. The latter two commitments are enough to give TCU, at this moment, the nation's No. 9 recruiting class, according to 247Sports. And it's worth noting that the nation's No. 1 recruiting class currently belongs to Auburn, which brings me back to my initial and larger point. Again, with few exceptions, there is no reason why any Power 5 school can't be relevant in men's basketball as long as it A) commits strongly to the sport financially, B) builds top-shelf facilities, C) hires the right coach who hires the right staff, and D) provides that right coach and his right staff with the resources necessary to compete.
Tradition doesn't matter to recruits nearly as much as some folks think.
Bruce Pearl has been proving that at Auburn.
Now Jamie Dixon is proving it at TCU.
"The Power 5 schools, we just have advantages," Dixon told me Thursday night. "And I'd rather have these advantages than history ... because, at TCU, I think we can overcome a lack of history."
Looks like they already are.
FIVE OTHER THINGS ON GP'S MIND
1. Jamie Dixon and I talked about much more than recruiting Thursday. And one of the other subjects was Jaylen Fisher, the guard from Memphis who initially signed with UNLV but decomitted after the coaching change in Las Vegas and eventually followed former UNLV assistant Ryan Miller to TCU. "Jaylen is terrific," Dixon said. "He just has so much energy. He lights up a room. Everybody loves him already."
2. The early signing period is still three months away, so the rankings will change. But it is interesting that, right now, seven of the top 10 classes in the country, according to 247Sports, belong to schools that did not play in last season's NCAA Tournament. They are No. 1 Auburn, No. 2 Washington, No. 3 UCLA, No. 6 Illinois, No. 8 Arkansas, No. 9 TCU and No. 10 Creighton.
3. Even more interesting is the fact that four of the schools with top-10 classes -- Washington, UCLA, Illinois and Arkansas -- are led by coaches who might be on those Hot Seat lists that popup each preseason, which is huge. Here's why: schools rarely fire coaches who have great classes set to enroll, meaning what Lorenzo Romar, Steve Alford, John Groce and Mike Anderson get done in November might buy them another year no matter what happens in January, February and March.
4. The consensus top prospect in the Class of 2018, Marvin Bagley, took unofficial visits to UCLA, Arizona and Arizona State this week. Each school reportedly offered both Marvin and his younger brother, Marcus Bagley. And it doesn't matter much that Marcus hasn't even started high school yet. It's just part of the game.
5. If you want to watch some of the nation's best prospects this weekend, tune to ESPNU Saturday night at 7:30 ET for the Under Armour Elite 24. The rosters can be found here. And if you don't see a player whom you think is great, perhaps he's in the Bahamas and fresh off a trip to The White House.
FINAL THOUGHT: I only met Joel Cornette a few times. So I won't pretend to have known him well. But I have friends who knew him well. They spoke highly of him. And after reading this column from the Indianapolis Star's Gregg Doyel, man, it sure looks like the Butler family, and the world in general, lost a good dude this week.
As I detailed Tuesday, this is the third young person connected to Butler who has died this year, which has produced too much heartbreak for a program that grabbed the country's heart when it surprisingly advanced to the title game of the 2010 NCAA Tournament, then did it again in 2011. Cornette didn't play for those teams, obviously. But he could've in the sense that he was tough, determined and, well, just a winner.
So keep Butler in your thoughts this weekend, if you can.
There will be a celebration of Cornette's life Monday inside Hinkle. Hopefully, it'll be the last time that school has to do anything else like this for a good, long while.
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