I guess I could sit here and tell you my path to playing D1 basketball was easy.
That I always knew I’d be playing for TCU. Or that I knew when I came here we would turn the program around so quickly.
But if I told you that, you’d miss out on the journey and it would be far from the truth.
For me, my playing days actually started with dreams of getting to the league. Growing up in Texas, football is on every kid’s mind at an early age and I wasn’t any different.
It actually wasn’t until high school where I realized playing only basketball might be my best route to playing college athletics.
This may have had something to do with me growing from 5’10 to 6’3 over the summer……
Anyways, when I fully dedicated myself to playing basketball, I worked as hard as possible, but it wasn’t that easy to get my name out there.
Coming from Waco, I played on great local teams, but it wasn’t until my junior season where I realized the only way to get your name out there was to play on an AAU team on the Dallas-Fort Worth Circuit.
And as my recruitment went along, I started to receive offers from D2 schools, but I still didn’t have anything firm from a D1 program.
I didn’t doubt that I had the talent to play at a big program, and I still trusted in God’s plan for me, but I began to wonder if an offer would ever come.
One of the things that helped me through the process was working as hard in the classroom as I did on the court.
With a good GPA and solid ACT score, I decided that I would sign with Tarleton State in the Fort Worth area. It wasn’t the big name I was looking for, but I thought it would be my best option for playing ball and continuing my education.
But just as I was about to sign, I realized I couldn’t give up on my dream of playing at a D1 program. With my faith in God, I knew that if I trusted in him, I would somehow find a way.
So instead, I decided that I would see if junior college could be the solution.
And with this decision, I knew I wanted to play at New Mexico Junior College, out in Southeast New Mexico.
To some, this seemed like a crazy idea. Playing in the middle of nowhere didn’t make sense to most.
But my high school coach, Coach Felix had shown me all of the players they had sent to Power 5 programs, so that was good enough for me.
But man, that year at Juco was something else.
As an 18-year-old coming out of high school, you’re used to being one of the more developed players on the court. In Juco, you play with grown men, who at 23, often made me feel like I was the weakest player on the court.
But for me, I had a chip on my shoulder from being overlooked out of high school, so I wasn’t going to let anyone push me around.
Night after night, I played the post against guys that had huge weight advantages on me and would just try to wear me down.
Instead of getting down on myself, I used this challenge to develop new skills in my game and show I could play with anyone.
I actually think this skillset and toughness was one of the reasons I got noticed by TCU.
Now an assistant at TCU, Coach Jeff Tift used to be the head coach at New Mexico Juco, so he came out to look at our team. And building a relationship from the beginning, I began to think there might be a chance I could end up a Horned Frog.
With my first season wrapping up and my future still up in the air, I finally received the offer I had been dreaming of for 5 years.
Immediately, I called my mom and high school Coach, Coach Felix to tell them the news. From that moment, I knew I wanted to commit. Coming back to Texas and to a big name program, there wasn’t anything better to me.
Once again, I leaned on my faith in God, as I knew he had a plan for me all along.
Arriving on campus, I was really excited, but I quickly found out there was a lot of work for us to do. We had just come off a 0-18 season, finishing last in the Big 12, so I wanted to see where I could help make an impact immediately.
And even with a losing program, I still had that same chip on my shoulder, so I just viewed it as an opportunity. Not only for me, it was a chance for our whole team to prove to the programs that had passed up on us, that they had missed out.
It didn’t happen that next game or even that next season, but little by little our program began to develop a winning mentality.
I think we finally made people realize what we had done with last season. Winning the NIT tournament in Madison Square Garden, we put our name on the map.
But for us, we viewed this just as the beginning, not the end of our success.
With this offseason, we had a team meeting about what we wanted to accomplish this year for the program. Pulling the guys together, we realized we have a chance to make program history and continue to shock the country.
And for those of you in Horned Frog Nation, expect to see us playing with that same chip on our shoulder.
We aren’t finished yet.
So for those of you out there that are being overlooked and aren’t getting the attention you deserve, don’t get down on yourself. Trust in God’s plan for you and just know, that if you use this as motivation and play with a chip on your shoulder, you can still end up living your dreams.
Kenrich Williams | Contributor, TCU Basketball