is a 28 year old 190cm guard that is playing his sixth professional season and sixth in Germany. He played his first two professional seasons in the Pro A with the Giessen 46ers and then helped the team move to the BBL in 2015. He then moved to the Telekom Baskets Bonn where he is in his third season. Currently he has played 115 easyCredit BBL games and 29 Basketball Champions League games and 18 Fiba Europe Cuo games. He began his basketball career at Cinnaminson High School and played at Temple (NCAA) from 2008-2013 playing a total of 126 NCAA games. He was invited to play for team Germany at the 2019 easyCredit BBL allstar game and spoke to germanhoops.com about basketball
TJ thanks for talking to germanhoops.com Before we talk 2019 Allstar game, let’s talk about your Telekom Baskets Bonn season. How tough was leaving the Basketball Champions League and Fiba Europe Cup stage? Do you feel like this disappointment could spark the club the rest of the way?
It was tough and we were disappointed. But we learned a valuable lesson that we must be ready to go each and every game. We cannot take anyone lightly.
The Telekom Baskets Bonn have really turned their season around. You had a tough stretch in December 2018, but have a strong 8-2 record in 2019. What has been the secret to the current success?
There have been various things that have contributed to the recent success. Too many to list. But one broad goal in the last few months was to have better communication as a team.
The Telekom Baskets Bonn score a lot of points, but also allow a lot of points. What has been the biggest challenge on defense this season and what does the team need to clean up to have a better chance of having success in the last months?
I feel like we have taken steps defensively in the past months as well. We have to be more consistent throughout the game and we need to rebound better. Guards have to do a better job helping the bigs on the boards.
How has the whole Telekom Baskets Bonn culture changed with the departure of Predrag Krunic and arrival of Chris O’Shea? What adjustments has the new coach done?
There has been a few adjustments, but I guess our opponents will have to scout that themselves haha.
Let’s talk about your teammates. Can some one tell me why Josh Mayo wasn’t added to team International. He is having a great season shooting 53% from outside. How has he developed the last two seasons?
I’m not sure, but he’s deserving. It seems like he can’t miss this season. He’s always been a great leader and given the team whatever we need.
Ex NBA player James Webb hasn’t been the crushing scorer, but he has been valuable in other area’s of the Bonn game. Please talk about those area’s where he has excelled most and what do you appreciate most about his game?
Webb is so versatile. He can grab a rebound, push the ball up the floor, go coast to coast, and finish. He’s also a guy that can get hot at any time during the game.
Martin Breunig has had his BBL breakout season this year. Could one say he has been a late bloomer and how is he a different player this season in comparison to last season?
We saw glimpses of what Martin can do at the end of last season. I’m glad he’s taken the next step and I’ve really enjoyed playing with him.
Recently the Telekom Baskets Bonn picked up versatile ex Euroleague player Nate Linhart. He hasn’t had the massive stats, but do you see him playing more of a role in the stretch run?
Nate is an experienced player and everyone who knows the league is aware of how valuable he is. He’s helped us a lot so far, and I think it will continue even more down the stretch.
Let’s talk about your game. Your BBL experience has been a valuable learning experience. After your first season with Bonn you were locked in reading situations and knowing when to be a playmaker. How much has Josh Mayo continued to help you develop as a combo guard?
Playing alongside of Josh has really helped me out in a few ways. Other teams are so worried about him shooting (rightfully so) that it opens up a lot for me and allows me to create. Also, watching him play with the confidence he does has really taught me a lot in that aspect. He has no fear out on the court, and I’ve really learned from that.
You have improved your stats each season in Bonn. How do you feel has your game continued to develop in your time with the Telekom Baskets Bonn?
I think I have developed into more of a point guard during my time in Bonn.
You had very solid assist averages in all three competitions. What do you feel was a big challenge as a playmaker in your first Bonn season and how are you a different playmaker now in season three?
Being confident in myself and looking for my own shot or drive to the basket. The more of a threat you are to score, the easier it is to get assists.
You will be turning 29 this year. As a four year BBL guy now on what things are you focusing most on continuing to improve on the floor?
My basketball IQ and shooting ability. Will have to rely on those things when the athleticism starts to decline.
You will be representing Team National this season at the 2019 BBL allstar game. Is it a strange feeling playing for Germany and what do you appreciate most about this experience?
It’s not too strange to me. I’ve been looked at as a German for my whole professional career, so its normal now. I just appreciate being able to take part in a fun event with some of the top talent in the league.
How special is it being together with Bonn teammate Yorman Polas on Team National. Many say he is the best defender in the BBL. How much have you benefited from him on the defensive end in the last three years?
Yorman can change the whole game. He can make the other team’s best offensive player look like they weren’t even on the court. It’s amazing.
What do you like most about the format team Team National vs Team international. Do you feel like you and John Bryant have a special motivation playing against the other Americans?
The format is cool, and I like it. I think John will just be out there trying to have fun like the rest of us.
Team National have a lot of talented players playing, but also some big time veterans in Euroleague player Danilo Barthel and Per Guenter. What are your earliest memories of playing against these guys when you came up with Giessen?
They both played on great teams that year when I was with Giessen. I just remember getting our butts kicked by both teams haha
Team international is stocked with many great players. You have had the pleasure of playing against Mr Oldenburg Rickey Paulding the last four years. If you could only pick one basketball trait that you would love to pick up from him what would it be?
Agelessness. The guy never takes a step back performance wise.
Obviously the Allstar game is all about fun and not playing defense. Since the rules are a bit lax, could we await to see you releasing something from your trick basket or will you be sticking to basics mostly?
My trick basket is rather empty at the moment. Probably just the basics.
What kind of game can we await? It will probably be a high scoring game to entertain the fans. What is your prediction of the score?
134-130 for Team National
What is your list of five all-time best teammates you have had in your career?
Josh mayo Juan Fernandez Yorman polas Bartolo Benni Lischka Julian Gamble Eric Palm (6th man)
It’s still so early, but when all is said and done could Luka Doncic be one of the greatest Europeans that ever played in the NBA?
I believe he can be. He seems like he has the right mindset and mentality. And obviously he has the talent
What was your reaction when you heard that Lebron James named himself the greatest of all-time?
i don’t mind the confidence at all. Not sure I agree, but it doesn’t bother me that he said that. He is definitely very close.
Charles Barkley recently proclaimed that Tom Brady Is more of a GOAT than Michael Jordan. Do you share his opinion?
I don’t like the cross sports GOAT debates. You can’t compare. What about Floyd Mayweather? Usain bolt? Wayne Gretzky?
What was the last movie that you saw?
Thanks TJ for the chat.