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TCU 360

TCU 360

All TCU. All the time.

TCU 360

TCU alumni connect with each other at Guy Fieri’s Dive & Taco Joint in downtown Kansas City, Missouri. on Friday Oct. 7, 2022. (Photo courtesy of Tristen Smith)
How TCU's alumni chapters keep the Horned Frog spirit alive post-grad
By Addison Thummel, Staff Writer
Published May 11, 2024
TCU graduates can stay connected with the Horned Frog community with alumni chapters across the nation.

Unbeaten to unthinkable: The ups and downs of the TCU women’s basketball season

How the Horned Frogs had to add four walk-ons midseason in Mark Campbell’s first year.
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AP Photo
TCU women’s basketball walk-on forward Sarah Sylvester and head coach Mark Campbell. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

The first season under head coach Mark Campbell was nothing but eventful. Taking over a team that finished 1-17 in the Big 12 the year prior, Campbell knew the TCU women’s basketball season was going to be a journey, but he could not have expected what happened.

It could not have been more of an instant success for the 2024-25 Horned Frogs. In his first season at TCU and third as a head coach, Campbell led the Frogs to a 14-0 start, the longest winning streak in program history. That was until things started to take a turn.

Star center Sedona Prince, who led TCU in points, steals and blocks, broke her right ring finger in the first minute of the Frogs’ game against Baylor on Jan. 3. She was sidelined until Feb. 24 against Houston.

Jaden Owens (torn right ACL and meniscus), starting senior point guard, and DaiJa Turner (broken left ankle), Sedona Prince’s backup, were then injured for the rest of the season in the Jan. 13 game versus Houston.

To add even more injury to insult, guard Madison Conner, who averaged 19.2 points per game, hurt her left MCL in practice prior to TCU’s Jan. 17 game against Kansas State. Conner was held out until the Frogs’ Feb. 17 game at Cincinnati.

Having only 10 scholarship players available to start the season, TCU was down to only six. This shortage forced the Frogs to forfeit their Jan. 17 game against Kansas State and the Jan. 24 contest at Iowa State.

Campbell needed to get players fast, so TCU organized an open tryout for all female full-time Horned Frog students with high school basketball experience to walk on for the rest of the 2023-24 season.

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  • TCU women’s basketball open tryout flyer released on Jan. 17, 2024

According to Campbell, finding players that quickly was “all hands on deck.”

Around 50 players showed up over the two-day tryout with the intention to fill four roster spots. Right away, Campbell and the staff knew they had some talent on their hands. Soon after, TCU announced the signings of Piper Davis, Ella Hamlin, Mekhayia Moore and Sarah Sylvester on Jan. 22.

“It was a stressful, comical, crazy, wild, midyear thing that just got thrust upon us that you can’t prepare for,” Campbell said on the tryout process.

Sarah Sylvester was probably the most familiar name to TCU fans of the four. As a sophomore, she is a standout volleyball player for the Frogs, standing 6-foot-3 as a middle blocker. From Livonia, Michigan, Sylvester was a two-time All Catholic High School league basketball player, so her talent jumped off the board.

“I hadn’t played in so long so I wasn’t sure what my game would look like…but it was fine once I got out there,” Sylvester said.

Sophomore Mekhayia Moore also had a successful high school basketball career. At 5-foot-7, she won a state championship at Brownsboro High School in East Texas, earning the championship MVP. Moore had already received a full academic scholarship to TCU as a pre-med major, so she initially chose to focus on her academic career instead of athletics coming into college.

Piper Davis, a freshman, came to TCU and also won the state championship in high school, growing up in Boise, Idaho. Her dad is Jarrod Davis, a former All-WCC guard at Gonzaga.

Davis talked about how her dad helped her get prepared for the tryouts but noted how life as an athlete is different than just a regular student. “I had classes from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m., then I had the rest of the day off,” Davis said. “Now I have practice from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. and class 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.”

Freshman Ella Hamlin grew up just outside Fort Worth, playing basketball for Granbury High School. She had a couple of offers from smaller universities but decided it was not worth it. Hamlin decided to just study nursing at TCU initially. That was until the trout opportunity came.

After the additions, TCU quickly returned to play against UCF on Jan. 23 with all four walk-ons active. Sarah Sylvester even entered the game for a minute at the end of the third quarter.

“I’m locked into the game and ready to do what my job is going to be at that time. But there’s also a lot of exciting emotions that come from the crowd being so, so loud and excited,” Sylvester said.

Even with all the roster turnover, TCU pulled out a 66-60 win, capturing the attention of many. The series of events even earned Mark Campbell an appearance on SportsCenter following the game.

“This is the hand we’re dealt and gosh dang it, this group’s making the best of it,” Campbell said on the state of the team.

The Frogs went on to lose five straight before Madison Conner’s return on Feb. 17, but the experience was great for players being pushed into bigger roles. It was mainly the walk-ons’ job to push the players in practice who were getting the majority of the minutes.

“It’s just refreshing to see how hard they work. … We’re here on scholarship. We are reaping the benefits from this, but they just want to help out,” Agnes Emma-Nnopu, senior starting guard, said.

After Conner’s return, the Frogs finished the regular season 4-1. They beat Oklahoma State in the first round of the Big 12 tournament before losing to Oklahoma in the quarterfinals.

That mark was good enough for TCU to be selected to the Women’s Basketball Invitational Tournament (WBIT) as a No. 3 seed. It was the first time the Horned Frogs had played a postseason game in five years. They would go on to beat North Texas in the first round before losing at Mississippi State.

Even with all the chaos, the Frogs still had a 13-game win improvement on the season, the greatest single-season turnaround of 2023-24. Campbell has truly changed the direction of the program.

The Frogs have already started looking towards the 2024-25 season, reportedly adding notable transfers Hailey Van Lith from LSU, Maddie Scherr from Kentucky and Taylor Bigby from USC.

“I truly believe it’s made me a better coach. But I hope I don’t have to sign up for this again. I mean, holy smokes,” Campbell said on the past season’s circumstances.

Taking over a program and getting hit with this type of situation was hard to imagine. However, it has built up the experience and character of not just Campbell but this TCU team as a whole. Now, the Frogs are projected to make the NCAA Tournament next season for the first time since 2010.

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