One long journey later, TCU walk-on guard Owen Aschieris is on scholarship, and quickly inspiring others

TCU basketball had six players hit double-digits in scoring Tuesday night as the Horned Frogs cruised to a 98-67 victory over West Virginia -- the team's most lopsided Big 12 victory since joining the conference in time for the 2012-13 season. 

And yet TCU's four points from Owen Aschieris -- all coming from the free-throw line when the final score was far from being in question -- may have been the loudest four of the night at Schollmaier Arena, both literally and figuratively. 

It was roughly 24 hours prior to the Horned Frogs' triumph over the Mountaineers that the sophomore walk-on guard from San Diego, Calif., learned that he had been placed on scholarship -- a moment which has since gone viral on social media after head coach Jamie Dixon had a police officer interrupt a team meeting to deliver the news to Aschieris. 

That was just the beginning of a stretch that Aschieris described as a complete whirlwind Tuesday night, fresh off scoring the first four points of his collegiate career. 

"It's been so hard to describe," Aschieris said. "So much work has gone into this and it's just been a crazy journey going from high school -- not being recruited at all -- to walking on. 

"There are just so many people too that have helped me so much. Just to get that scholarship and then this too adding onto it -- I'm going to need a few days to just let my mind chill."

Prior to TCU, Aschieris enjoyed a successful high school career at Santa Fe Christian Schools in Solana Beach, Calif., -- located 25 miles north of downtown San Diego -- as he was named a first-team all-league and second-team all-CIF selection as a senior.

But a unique journey was required for the 6-1 guard to earn his shot in the Big 12, walking-on and spending his freshman year as a member of the TCU women's basketball team practice squad before joining the men's roster this season. 

"I don't exactly know how he ended up here or what his high school career [looked like]," Dixon said. "I talked to some coaches back [in San Diego] that knew about him, but you just never know. We were just very surprised by how good he was and I don't if you all have seen how good he is from the games he has gotten into." 

This week, the fruits of Aschieris' hard work were finally brought to the table as he received the greatest news any walk-on athlete could ask for. Aschieris said he immediately called his parents upon receiving the news he had been placed on scholarship.

"I called my mom right after at work and she was crying, and that made me get choked up too," Aschieris said. "It was just awesome being able to tell them that."

Aschieris was far from being the first player to play for Dixon and earn a scholarship after walking on. But moments of rewarding individuals for tireless dedication always rank among the highlights of Dixon's career. 

"As far as coaching, one of the most gratifying and enjoyable moments are in the instances where we get to give a scholarship to a kid that has worked his tail off and given so much to our program," Dixon said. "They are some of the most memorable moments I have ever had." 

Aschieris' teammates were equally as inspired -- long before the announcement on Monday. TCU junior guard Desmond Bane, who scored a season-high 26 points vs. West Virginia on Tuesday, said Aschieris' work ethic has pushed him to be a better player ever since Aschieris joined the roster. 

"He deserved it," Bane said. "Over the summer, I used to think that I worked pretty hard. The moment Owen got on the team, he was pushing me to get in the gym. 

"He was trying to get to 1,000 makes over the summer and I thought that was crazy. I tried to shoot with him and my shoulder kept getting stiff, locking up on me and I know Owen was in there early in the morning and late at night. With that kind of hard work and dedication your dreams will come true."

Whatever the future may hold for Aschieris, his head coach knows one thing: On or off the court, the "never ever quit" mentality will pay off in the long run.

"Some of the closest kids I'm with and the most successful ones -- if you're looking to find a walk-on, a kid that is committed at the highest level and walked on and played for four years, then I guarantee you that kid is going to be a success for life," Dixon said.

by Dean Straka