MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- Trent Johnson's four seasons as Stanford's coach included 80 wins, three NCAA Tournaments, one Sweet Sixteen and a lot of time spent talking to Bill Walsh.
The former Cardinal and San Francisco 49ers coach would listen and share and Johnson was one of the fortunate ones to be in his company.
"One thing he said that stuck with me was you can tell the job a head coach and his staff did when you look in the rear view mirror," Johnson said. "When you look in the rear view in Nevada, it continued to escalate after I left. When you look in the rear view at Stanford, the cupboard was not bare. When you look in the rear view at LSU, they're doing OK."
Johnson is now in charge at TCU, his fourth job since 1999, and the Horned Frogs (9-3) are off to their best start since the 2000-01 season.
"This one," Johnson said, "I'm in for the long haul."
Johnson was the head coach at Nevada from 1999-2004, Stanford from 2004-08 and LSU from 2008-12 and added NCAA Tournament appearances at Nevada and LSU. He was the conference coach of the year once at all three schools.
The task is taller at TCU. The men's basketball program has been to the NCAA Tournament twice since the field expanded in 1985 and not since 1998.
Johnson's first Horned Frogs team was 11-21 and lost three players to season-ending injuries before the start of their first trip through the Big 12, but did beat No. 5 Kansas at home.
Johnson signed arguably the best recruiting class in school history, led by 6-foot-10 Karviar Shepherd, who the team's media guide calls "the highest-rated prospect to ever sign with TCU." They'll take a crack at WVU (8-5) in Saturday's 4 p.m. game at Daniel-Meyer Coliseum.
"The four guys we signed showed great courage in wanting to come and be a part of helping us build something and establish a basketball tradition," Johnson said. "Those are the guys we need and want."
Shepherd averages 8.3 points and 8.6 rebounds while classmate Brandon Parrish is fourth on the team in scoring (10.3) and has made 17 of 41 3-point attempts. They've both started all 12 games. Mike Williams averages 4.8 points off the bench, while fellow freshman Hudson Price has missed six games with a concussion and an illness.