TCU men’s basketball assistant coach Corey Barker remains on administrative leave after being linked to the FBI college basketball corruption case last week.
Even though Barker is not with the team for the Big 12 tournament, the players have used his absence as a source of motivation.
“Everybody is really close with Coach Corey,” senior point guard Alex Robinson said. “He’s like a player’s coach. He helps us with everything. Whenever we need something, he’s there for us.
“The absence of Corey, I feel, really fueled us because we don’t know the whole situation, but we know he’s a real good guy and we’re missing him.”
Barker allegedly received a bribe to steer certain TCU players to a sports management agency, although he is not expected to be charged with a crime. Barker has not commented on the allegations.
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TCU is conducting an internal review into the matter, athletics director Jeremiah Donati said in a statement last week.
Four assistant coaches linked to the FBI case when it was initially announced lost their jobs. Barker, along with Creighton assistant Preston Murphy, were the latest assistants to be linked to the case and each have been placed on administrative leave by their respective schools.
The Frogs responded with one of their best games of the season, pulling away for a 69-56 victory over Texas on Saturday in Austin.
Coach Jamie Dixon spoke highly of Barker’s character after the game, and players posted on social media support for the embattled assistant.
“I think everybody communicates with him still, because everybody was so close to him,” Robinson said. “He always got us hyped up and going every practice and every game and made sure that we were doing what we were supposed to do. He’s not with us physically, but he’s definitely still with us.”
TCU has not announced when it expects the internal review to be completed.
At 19-12, TCU is firmly on the NCAA Tournament bubble. Most feel the Frogs would be in if the tournament started today.
But TCU knows it’ll strengthen its chances with a win Wednesday over Oklahoma State to open the Big 12 tournament. It’s a stressful time, especially for seniors such as Robinson.
“It’s nerve-wracking because you don’t know if you’re in,” Robinson said. “We know this game would probably solidify us to get in or not. Even though we see we are a 11- or 10-seed in some, we’re really focused on getting OSU, so we can make sure we’re in it for sure.”
For Dixon, the emphasis has been on practicing well to ensure his team is ready come game time.
TCU was able to go “live” in practice for the Texas game, and did so again going into the Oklahoma State game.
“Hopefully we found a secret formula where practice is a necessary ingredient when we go live against each other,” Dixon said, smiling. “We’ve just got to play well. I just want to play well. We’re confident because we played well in our last game.”
Robinson and junior guard Desmond Bane each earned more All-Big 12 honors on Tuesday, being named to the Associated Press’ All-Big 12 second team.
Robinson is the conference’s leader in assists (6.9), and Bane ranks fourth in scoring (15.2). Bane also landed on the USBWA All-District VII team, which consists of the 11 best players from Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas.
Texas Tech’s Jarrett Culver won the league’s AP player of the year, and Tech’s Chris Beard was coach of the year.