Many new faces will hit the court for the Horned Frogs Thursday night, but one is set to make an impact from the get-go.
Alongside returners Desmond Bane and Kevin Samuel, senior Edric Dennis jr. has emerged as a leader for head coach Jamie Dixon’s squad, though he has only been in Fort Worth for a few months.
“He brings a lot of intangibles to the table,” Dixon said. “[He has] the characteristics you want from a point guard: leadership, loud voice.”
TCU is Dennis Jr.’s fourth school in five years. He transferred to TCU from UT-Arlington in May. As a graduate transfer, he is eligible immediately for the Frogs.
On Thursday, Dennis Jr. will make get his first action at the Power 5 level.
“I think it means a lot,” Dixon said about Dennis’ first Power 5 start. “Here’s a guy who’s played himself up, to use that phrase, from lower levels, junior college, and is now playing in his local, Power 5 institution.”
Adjusting to a new school and new teammates is nothing new to the 6-foot-3 point guard.
In high school, Dennis Jr. spent three years at Skyline High School, a public magnet school in Dallas, before transferring to Desoto High School. Though he was listed as a top-50 player in Texas by Rivals.com during his time with the Eagles, he garnered little attention at the college level.
Dennis Jr. started his college career at Hill College, a junior college south of Dallas. There, honorable mention all-conference honors earned him a chance to move to Jackson, Mississippi, and play for the Jackson State Tigers.
At Jackson State, Dennis Jr. continued to improve. He finished 10th in the SWAC with 14.7 points per game and averaged 32% from behind the arc. Once again, the Dallas native would see a bigger opportunity arise, and he announced his transfer to UT-Arlington following the Tigers’ season.
The increase in competition would not diminish Dennis Jr.’s game. After sitting out a season due to the NCAA transfer rule, he ranked second on the team with 14.3 points per game in 2018, adding 4.5 rebounds and 2.3 assists as well.
“All my life I’ve been a scorer,” Dennis Jr. said. “I’m not your traditional just bring-it-up-pass-the-ball type of point guard. I can do both.”
Nevertheless, Dennis Jr. did not believe his journey was over. After TCU saw their roster diminished by transfers and missed the NCAA tournament in March, the talented point guard saw an opportunity to make an impact at the highest level and signed with the Frogs in May.
“It’s been fun, very different from the last school I came from,” Dennis jr said. “I want to win. I want to get to the tournament.”
Now, learning to run an offense against some of the country’s top competition in a talented Big 12 Conference, Dennis Jr. no longer has to worry about proving himself by way of scoring. Instead, he has learned to develop a skill that TCU fans know well—passing.
“I’ve always had the characteristics of a point guard: leading, talking, energy,” Dennis Jr said. “Now I’m balancing being around great players, [a] great coaching staff, and scoring and passing.”
Last season, TCU starting point guard Alex Robinson finished with 672 assists on his career, a program record. His 6.9 assists per game ranked first in the Big 12, 2.9 ahead of second place.
It’s no doubt that Dennis Jr. has big shoes to fill, but he is confident that he can, once again, exceed expectations. The ferocity with which the fifth-year senior has approached the preseason has already caught Dixon’s attention.
“The main thing is his enthusiasm and his toughness,” Dixon said. “Right now, he’s been starting and playing really well.”
Dennis Jr. will benefit from playing with the most talented roster he ever has had.
Bane, named to the preseason All-Big 12 First Team last month, is the Big 12’s lead returning scorer after averaging 15.2 points per game last season. The senior was also named to the preseason Wooden Award Top 50 list on Tuesday.
Down low, Samuel is expected to be one of the most dominant presences in the conference this season. A year ago, the redshirt sophomore averaged 6.9 rebounds per game, good for sixth in the Big 12.
“They make my job easy,” Dennis jr said about Bane and Samuel. “Greatest teammates I’ve ever had. Great kids.”
TCU fans will get their first look at Dennis Jr. Thursday as the Frogs take on the Southwestern Pirates in their season opener. Tipoff in Schollmaier Arena is scheduled for 7 p.m.
“I took the longer route to get here [TCU],” Dennis jr. said. “Now, I’m definitely ready for it.”