Sunday, April 13, 2008

Update on . . . TJ Clemmings

A few days ago I caught up with TJ Clemmings of Paterson Catholic (NJ) and the U-16 Playaz Red squad. Clemmings' status as a Paterson Catholic ballplayer is up in the air, but not because of anything he did. Adam Zagoria of recently reported that TJ's school was going through financial problems and was facing the possibility of having to shut down. I asked TJ about this, and he said "I really don't know much about it. We're waiting . . . to [be told] if we will be open next year." I inquired of Clemmings about what the Paterson Catholic squad would do, should the school close: "If the school closes, we were going to try to stay together as a team and go to another school, maybe not one of those big schools like St. Anthony's, St. Patrick's, or St. Benedict's." He told me that the players do not have a specific school in mind. Hopefully Paterson Catholic does continue to stay open. If it does, the Cougars' basketball team will be extremely competitive on a national level next year, with TJ Clemmings, Jermaine Peart, Jayon James, Fuquan Edwin, and Shaquille Thomas entering their junior year, along with soon-to-be sophomore Myles Mack, incoming freshman Kyle Anderson, and next year's lone senior Lance Brown. "In the states [tournament], we're definitely going to go farther than we did this year, . . . we're going to be older and more mature," said Clemmings of the Cougars' chances next season. I questioned TJ about how the team will compete with New Jersey's "Big Three" schools: "I think we'll be able to win those games, . . . [we] weren't really blown out [by them this year, we] . . . lost to St. Benedict's by five and St. Anthony's by 13," adding, "next year we'll know how to play against those guys." Regarding TJ's recruitment, he informed me that Seton Hall and Rutgers are both showing interest, saying "they both did" extend a scholarship offer. Along with these two New Jersey schools, Clemmings said "I think there's some [more] schools . . . [that] my coach mentioned," specifically saying "Texas" was one of them. Although TJ said he did "not really" have a dream school, he has "always been a big fan of Duke," also saying "when [he] was younger, that was where [he] wanted to play." I asked the big man if the Blue Devils would shoot to the top of his list if they were to eventually offer him a scholarship, to which he said "I don't think that's where I will go." In addition, TJ mentioned that "the more schools looking at [him]," adding, "I know I'm going to get better." For those of you who want to check out TJ's Playaz squad, he told me that the team will be involved in the "iS8 . . . in New York, . . . should be going to Pittsburgh in a week or two, . . . [and] . . . Las Vegas." Clemmings' team is absolutely loaded, with at least six DI players, and maybe some more. In fact the group is so good that, according to, the team won the U-17 age group at the Playaz Spring Fling, despite playing up a year. "It means a lot, it shows that we can actually compete with older teams . . . and win championships in older tournaments," said TJ of the championship win. In addition, he said "it also shows we're growing as a team and getting used to each [other]." I asked the super sophomore how the AAU team is able to be unselfish and share the ball with so much talent on the floor, and he told me that the group are "very good friends, [and there is] . . . nothing to fight about. . . . [They all] listen to the coach, [and] . . . know who can score, . . . know where [they all] stand and it's not really a big issue, fighting about the ball." It certainly seems that TJ and his teammates are primed for a tremendous spring and summer. The Playaz Red team will definitely wreak havoc throughout the AAU circuit.

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