TCU basketball doesn’t have too storied of a basketball program and haven’t been to a NCAA tournament since 1998. For no reason whatsoever, let’s take a look at the top five basketball players in the history of Horned Frogs’ basketball:
5. Dennis Nutt, Point Guard (1981-1985)
Dennis Nutt played 25 games for the Dallas Mavericks in 1987 and is now the head basketball coach at Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, Arkansas. That is actually a real-life place. The most interesting things about Dennis Nutt are his brothers. He is the brother of former Ole Miss head football coach Houston Nutt and also has a brother named … ready for it … Dickey Nutt who is the head coach of the Southeast Missouri State basketball program.
4. Reggie Smith, Center/Power Forward (1988-1992)
Reggie Smith may have one of the most generic NBA names in history. This is literally the name of a guy that NBA 2K tabs as a first-rounder when creating a future draft class in “Association Mode.” Reggie Smith’s Wikipedia page legit reads like this:
That’s it. Smith played in 66 games for the Portland Trail Blazers from 1993-1994 and scored one less point than Wilt Chamberlain had in a single game once.
3. Goo Kennedy, Power Forward/Center (1970-1971)
Eugene “Goo” Kennedy is one of two TCU NBA players that have appeared in the NCAA tournament. He was the Southwestern Conference Player of the Year in 1971 when he averaged 16.1 rebounds per game. His name is also Goo so there’s that. He spent most of his time in the ABA, but played one season for the Houston Rockets in 1976-1977.
2. Lee Nailon, Power Forward (1997-1999)
Lee Nailon “your mom” played on that last TCU tournament team in 1998 and is the other TCU NBA player to have appeared in the NCAA tournament. Quite an exclusive club. Nailon had well-traveled professional career and some great cornrows.
The 1998 WAC Player of the Year was a second round pick of the Charlotte Hornets in 1999 and lasted in the NBA until 2006 as one of the NBA’s most prolific journeymen. Nailon remakably played in seven NBA cities in five seasons, including two separate stints with the Charlotte/New Orleans Hornets. In 2003-2004 alone, Nailon played for the Magic, Hawks, and Cavaliers. He also played for the New York Knicks and Philadelphia 76ers. Nailon had his best season in 2004-2005 with the New Orleans Hornets when he started 51 games and averaged 14.2 points per game.
Nailon didn’t only make the rounds stateside. In addition to the seven different NBA cities he played in, Nailon also played for ten different international teams with the most recent being Mexico’s Panteras de Aguascalientes in 2013-2014. Now 41 and seemingly retired from professional basketball, he will probably make the rounds in some city’s intramural basketball circuit.
1. Kurt Thomas, Power Forward/Center (1990-1995)
The cream of the TCU NBA crop, Kurt Thomas played about 300 seasons in the NBA and for every team in the NBA four times (actually 19 seasons from 1995-2013 and for nine different teams). He’s most remembered in the NBA for his time with the Knicks from 1998-2005, his hard-nosed style of play, and being frequently confused with fellow NBA power forward Kenny Thomas.
While at TCU, Thomas was the 1995 Southwestern Conference Player of the Year in 1995. He led the NCAA Division 1 in scoring and rebounding with 28.9 points per game and 14.6 rebounds per game.The Miami Heat made Thomas the tenth overall pick in the 1995 draft and his nearly two-decade long NBA career began. Thomas spent two seasons with the Heat before being traded to the Dallas Mavericks where he saw very limited action due to injury. He then signed with the New York Knicks as a free agent in 1998.
Thomas was a key contributor for some really good Knicks teams as they made back-to-back Eastern Conference Finals trips in 1999 and 2000. Thomas left the Knicks after the 1995 season and began bouncing around the NBA with stops in Phoenix, Seattle, San Antonio, Milwaukee, Chicago, and Portland. He then returned to New York to play his final season with the Knicks in 2012-2013.
Thomas was never a stat-sheet stuffer as he averaged 8.1 points per game and 6.6 rebounds per game in his career, but he played in 96 career playoff games and was often viewed as an important veteran presence off the bench.