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24. TCU With high-scoring Lee Nailon returning after a near jump to the NBA, Billy Tubbs is dreaming of a 200-point game

Nov. 23, 1998
Nov. 23, 1998

Table of Contents
Nov. 23, 1998

Faces In The Crowd
College Basketball 98

24. TCU With high-scoring Lee Nailon returning after a near jump to the NBA, Billy Tubbs is dreaming of a 200-point game

The rapper Master P was playing on the boom box outside TCU's
Moncrief Hall one day last month when two Horned Frogs started
flipping each other off. On a dare Thomas McTyer, a 5'11" guard,
performed a flawless backflip. "Now you, Prince!" he said,
pointing to 5'10" guard Prince Fowler, who duplicated the feat.
"Now you, Lee!" laughed Fowler, pointing to Lee Nailon, a 6'9",
230-pound senior forward with the tumbling prowess of a
brontosaurus--or so Fowler thought. "I could do that," Nailon
said. Whereupon he stopped and popped the first backflip of his
life.

This is an article from the Nov. 23, 1998 issue Original Layout

It wasn't, however, Nailon's most significant reversal of late.
After averaging 24.9 points last year, third best in the nation,
Nailon was ready to leave for the NBA, if he was assured of
being a top 15 pick. But scouts at a predraft camp in Chicago
voiced doubts about Nailon's agility on the perimeter, prompting
him to stay put. (The pros, obviously, never saw him do any
backflips.) That skepticism was news to TCU coach Billy Tubbs,
who is used to seeing Nailon dominate the post one minute--his
lefthanded baby hook is unblockable--and lead the fast break the
next. "Lee is a perfect fit for our system," Tubbs says. "We
don't run around setting screens for him. We just give him the
ball and tell him to go one-on-one."

The TCU system, of course, is the college hoops version of the
Freudian id: unrestrained. The Horned Frogs led the nation with
97.2 points a game last season, and Tubbs has visions of racking
up 200 against Division II Central Oklahoma on Dec. 12. But with
only Nailon and Fowler back as starters, the scoring burden will
be on three juco transfers. The best of the lot is 6'9" Marquise
Gainous, who gives TCU a second threat in the paint to keep
defenses from double-teaming Nailon. (Gainous outscored Nailon,
in fact, in preseason scrimmages.)

A former juco player himself, Tubbs boasts that he can land any
JC prospect in the country. Yet he still escapes from the rigors
of scouting for a little R and R. In October, Tubbs spent a week
in Hawaii as a panelist at a beauty pageant. "That's tough
trying to judge 180 women in bikinis," he says. "But as you
know, I'm a great judge of talent."

--G.W.

COLOR PHOTO: DAVID E. KLUTHO Finishing touch The 6'9" Nailon loves to get out on the break. [Lee Nailon slam-dunking in game]

STARTING LINEUP

POS. HT. CLASS KEY STAT

SF Vladimir Jaksic 6'8" Jr. 12.7 ppg*
PF [**]Lee Nailon 6'9" Sr. 24.9 ppg
C Marquise Gainous 6'9" Jr. 24.5 ppg*
SG Derale Wilson 6'5" Jr. 10.0 ppg*
PG [**]Prince Fowler 5'10" Sr. 6.1 apg

'97-98 record: 27-6 Final rank (coaches' poll): No. 25
[**]Returning starter *ppg as junior college sophomore