TJ Shorts Knew On The First Day That The Telekom Baskets Bonn Would Be Special

Miles Schmidt-Scheuber and TJ Shorts in Frankfurt in 2022

TJ Shorts (175-PG-1997, college: UC Davis) is a 25 year old 175cm point guard from Tustin, California playing his fourth professional season and third in Germany and first with the Telekom Baskets Bonn currently averaging 18,6ppg, 3,5rpg 7,4apg and 1,2spg. Last season he played with the Hakro Merlins averaging (20.6ppg), 3.4rpg, Assists-3 (7.0apg), 1.9spg, FGP: 54.9%, 3PT: 41.7%, FT: 83.3%. In 2020-2021 with the Hamburg Towers he averaged 14.3ppg, 2.8rpg, Assists-4 (5.3apg), Steals-3 (1.7spg), FGP: 49.3%, 3PT: 28.1%, FT: 71.8%. In his rookie season he played with with BK Ventspils (Latvia-LBL) playing 12 FIBA Europe Cup games averaging 14.6ppg, 2.8rpg, Assists-4 (6.3apg), Steals-5 (2.0spg), FGP: 66.7%, 3PT: 25.0%, FT: 82.4%; and played 20 LatEstBL games averaging 11.8ppg, 3.3rpg, 5.0apg, 1.4spg, FGP: 63.8%, 3PT: 25.0%, FT: 75.6%. He began his basketball career at Tustin High School and then played two years at Saddleback JC (JUCO) He finished at the University of California – Davis (NCAA) playing 31 games averaging 14.6ppg, 3.7rpg, 4.5apg, 2.0spg, FGP: 53.8%, 3PT: 33.3%, FT: 72.7% and in his senior year averaged 15.2ppg, 4.7rpg, 4.3apg, 1.6spg, FGP: 53.0%, 3PT: 27.9%, FT: 71.8%. He spoke after the 88-61 win against the Fraport Skyliners.

Congrats TJ on the 88-61 win in Frankfurt against the Fraport Skyliners. Was this another normal day at the office for the team?

I wouldn’t say it was a normal day at the office for us. Even if their record doesn’t show it, they are a high quality team. I am proud of how the team fought and took control of the game after we were able to find our rhythm on offense and defense.

The Telekom Baskets Bonn broke free in the second quarter scoring 26 points. It rained three’s. What was key in the team breaking free.

We wanted to take away their strengths and play off their spots. On offense we let the ball move and when we are focused and are dynamic then we know that we will get good shots. We also were able to play at our pace and apply pressure on their defense.

In the second half, Frankfurt fought back and couldn’t get over the hump and in the fourth Bonn slammed the door shut in their faces with a 26 points outburst and 18-1 run to start. How would you describe Bonn basketball in this phase?

We showed a glimpse of our identity. We were able to get easy shots. We know that our defense will carry our offense. When we see one go in then we are capable of going on those 18-1 type runs.

This may have been your last battle against Quantez Robertson who is playing his 14th season with one club the Fraport Skyliners. How is something like that possible in todays day and age where money and moving around is the norm?

I have nothing but respect for Tez. He is a guy that has done real good things in the BBL. In today’s game guys are looking to make the next step and reach next level. The game will take you places where you won’t know where you will be next. You just have to learn to cherish the in moments and not take anything for granted.

The Telekom Baskets Bonn are having a great season and have upped their performance from last season. What have you been able to appreciate most this season about playing in the easyCredit BBL?

I appreciate the team that we have and they are all great guys. We all get along very well and that is very rare. We have that college basketball feel in Bonn. We are friends on and off the court. This family feeling helps us be successful. Our chemistry is at such a high level that it has helped us carry us on our run this season. I hope we can continue to keep it going.

The hunger to win a title is gigantic with the fans, but also for the players. Your still searching for that first chip. Do you personally feel that special excitement about what this club could do this season?

There is definitely excitement and a buzz around the team. We don’t want to get ahead of ourselves as the season is still very long. We want to continue to take it game by game. Important for us is to take care of the little things and continue to get better. We know that there are a lot of different facets that goes into winning a title.

The coach and team chemistry is very special this season. What other special attributes do you feel does this club have this season that has been instrumental in winning?

I mean it is tough to pinpoint just 2 things, but those 2 things are definitely important. You have to give a lot of credit to the coach who was able to build a team and be able to hand and pick guys that would buy into the system and have it work and have the players sacrifice into the team. It is really rare to find a group of guys like that.

The Telekom Baskets Bonn lost twice to Alba Berlin but play against them again at the end of April. What will it take to beat this club in a 5 game playoff series?

We know the quality that they have. We know that they have Euroleague type players and coaches and it will take a lot to beat them. You have to be focused on every possession. They will punish you on every mistake that you make. You have to focus on each possession and not try to do to much. We will continue to build the next months, but continue to take it a game at a time.

The club recently picked up Jovantae Hawkins. Everybody knows what he can bring to the club. How does your game get more elevated now with his presence?

He knows coaches system from Crailsheim and knows what to do on defense. He will have an easy transition. He is another offensive threat that can create his own shot, has length and is athletic. It will be great to play with him and learn his game and continue to build chemistry with him.

What has it been like practicing with young point guard Zach Ensminger? How have you been able to try to help him best so that his development continues to strive?

We shoot together each day after practice. He is young and like a sponge. He puts in extreme work. He really does he can so he can implement himself into the lineup.

After having a great last season despite being injured, did you come into this season with a special mission that obviously has reflected once again in your play?

Even if I had had that injury last season, I came into this season with the same mindset. I came into this season like usual with a chip on my shoulder and wanting to leave an imprint on the game and have people remember me. I want to continue to help my team anyway I can and evolve to the next level.

Your playing another great season while playing 3 minutes less in the easyCredit BBL. How much of a challenge has it been being able to win and put up big time stats while having more talented players than in Crailsheim?

It isn’t really a challenge for me but I believe that it is easier for me to play with high caliber players. It makes the game easier when you have great centers and wings. I don’t feel like I have to do much in order to be successful. All that matters is winning.

How much fun has it been playing with this bunch of guys. Obviously the trust has to be huge. Talk a little about how special this group is?

It is so much fun playing with this team. Winning also helps. We hang out a lot off the court which helps build that chemistry on the court. We practice very hard and there is always a lot of trash talking. We bring out the best in each other. We continue to build a special connection that translates onto the court. I knew on the first day that we would have a special group.

How instrumental has head coach Tuomas Iisalo been for your game. What part of your game has grown most under his tutelage?

He instills a lot of confidence in me. He allows me to be myself. He gives me a lot of advice and criticism on how to be successful. He is a smart coach that watches a lot of film. I’m always all ear when he talks. We trust each other and continue to grow in our relationship. I’m very thankful that he has trusted me.

What kind of player are you now and what kind of player do you still want to become?

I’m the same player now that I have always been. I’m team orientated and does all to win. I’m very competitive and just try to learn and improve each day. I always want to get better and am never satisfied. The day when I’m satisfied is the day I stop to play.

Is this the year of the Boston Celtics? Will they finally win it all?

I think it might be. They have great players with Taytum and Brown. If they stay healthy going into the playoffs it could be possible. The east is tough with guys like Giannis and Harden. They have to stay healthy.

Lebron James recently became the NBA’s all-time leading scorer. Is he the GOAT now?

Yes for me. I have always had Lebron as the GOAT. There are no more arguments. There will always be a discussion. Both are great in their own right. But Lebron is my era and is my GOAT:

Thanks TJ for the chat.


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