Lauren Heard driven to fulfill her ‘championship vision’ for TCU women’s basketball

·4 min read

When Lauren Heard joined the TCU women’s basketball program, she had visions of contending for Big 12 championships. She dreamed of experiencing March Madness like every college basketball player.

Neither of those happened her first four years in the program, which is why she took advantage of returning as a super senior this year. The NCAA allowed an extra year of eligibility amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and Heard opted for that rather than pursuing a professional career.

“I just thought my journey at TCU wasn’t done yet,” said Heard, who will be among TCU’s contingent at the Big 12 basketball media days Tuesday in Kansas City.

“My vision for this program and all that I want to accomplish, and my teammates who have been with me, we haven’t fulfilled what we’ve wanted to yet. It wasn’t about going pro or transferring, it was just about having an opportunity to come back and fulfill our vision.”

Asked specifically about her vision, Heard smiled and said: “To win a championship, definitely. We want to win a Big 12 championship and we want to go to the NCAA Tournament. And we don’t want to just get there, but we want to go far and really put our name out there and set the tone for years after.”

Heard and fellow super seniors Michelle Berry and Aahliyah Jackson believe this team has a chance to do something special. They all returned, driven to end their college careers on a higher note than the 10-15 record from last season.

The Frogs reached the 20-win mark in Heard’s first three seasons, going to the WNIT semifinals her first two seasons. TCU would have been a lock for a NCAA Tournament bid in 2020 before it was canceled by the pandemic. The NCAA then delivered another blow by not recognizing which schools would have made the field.

“When COVID happened and we got the news it was canceled and our season was done, we were really hurt,” Heard said. “The next season we didn’t have summer workouts or the ability to build those relationships and build chemistry. This season feels like such a fresh start.

“To me, it’s like freshman year. I’m so excited to be on campus, using our facilities and hanging out with the team. We’re seeing light after darkness.”

Heard has the ability to bring more light to TCU’s program. She’s the unquestioned leader and star of the team. Heck, she already lined up a NIL deal with Fort Worth-based MOVE Athleisure, which has a store off West 7th Street.

“It’s super cool to have that opportunity,” Heard said. “The owner, Kara Baker, is all about women empowerment, women encouragement and body positivity. Being a female athlete, that’s my message as well. It made sense … and the clothes are cute.”

Heard enters this season as an All-Big 12 preseason selection. She set the single-season TCU record with 21.2 points a game. She also averaged 7.1 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 2.6 steals. Heard was the only player in the Big 12 to rank among the top-10 in all four categories (points, rebounds, assists and steals).

TCU junior guard Tavy Diggs described Heard as someone who “always brings intensity on the court.”

“It’s been really good having her back,” Diggs said. “Her experience has really helped us, especially with the younger players.”

TCU coach Raegan Pebley loved Heard’s decision to return as well as the other super seniors. Pebley heard super seniors can sometimes not be fully invested, focusing more on the future than the present, but that isn’t the case with her team so far in preseason camp.

Everyone is pushing to get the program to that championship level Heard envisioned when she arrived four years ago.

“She came back because she felt there was still unfinished business here,” Pebley said. “I’m super happy that she’s here.”

The TCU women open the season against Houston Baptist on Nov. 9 at Schollmaier Arena.

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