Justice Bolden, TalkBack Live, Los Angeles, CA
During the summer of 2017, then East High School rising senior TJ Moss and his father Terrence Moss Sr. decided it was time for a change. After previously winning two Tennessee Class AAA State Championships as a sophomore and junior at East, TJ was invited to prestigious camps such as Adidas Nations and he also played on the summer circuit with M33M, the Mike Miller sponsored AAU program.
When the summer was over, TJ earned a place amongst the top 150 players in the nation by several recruiting services, and he eventually would transfer to national basketball power Findlay Prep, located in Henderson, Nevada just outside of Las Vegas.
The current head coach at Findlay Prep is Paul Washington, the father of Kentucky forward and projected future NBA draft pick PJ Washington. Findlay Prep has a rich basketball history that features three national championships, and their program has produced a rapidly growing number of Division 1 prospects. In addition, several NBA players including NBA Champion Tristen Thompson, current Detroit Pistons guard Avery Bradley, and former overall #1 draft pick Anthony Bennett are alumni of the school.
Since enrolling at Findlay, the recruitment of TJ Moss has picked up. On the heels of the latest offer that was extended by Memphis Tigers Head Coach Tubby Smith, the elder Moss opened up about TJ’s recruitment in a Q-and-A with TalkBack Live.
Q: What are some qualities that stand out about TJ’s game?
A: Not only is TJ the ultimate team player, he’s the ultimate competitor. He’s a winner. Winning follows him. He is a great teammate and he’s very coachable.
Q: In addition to his hometown Memphis Tigers, what other programs have offered TJ?
A: Arizona State, Akron, Minnesota, Oregon State, and South Carolina among others.
Q: What factors went into the decision for TJ to transfer to Findlay Prep?
A: Coaches are now able to see TJ perform on a nation stage against top-notch competition. That’s why we decided to attend Findlay (Prep), because we felt it would open up his recruitment. Most knew what he could do as a scorer, but now they are able to see what he can do as a point guard and a facilitator. His teammates love playing with him, and he and Bol Bol have a great connection. TJ is able to make the game easy for him with his passing and finding Bol in different areas.
Q: Talk about how Memphis became the latest program to pursue TJ. When did Coach Tubby Smith decide to turn up the heat and extend the official offer?
A: Coach Tubby was able to evaluate him in the Chik-Fila Classic (during late December) playing that point guard role, and he saw TJ in a different light. He really liked what he brought to the table in terms of his versatility to play both guards spots. Tubby then reached out to Coach Paul (Washington) to extend the offer, and followed that up by personally contacting TJ to let him know he wanted him to be a Tiger.
Q: Connor Vanover, the current Memphis signee, is a teammate of TJ at Findlay Prep. What does the 7-foot-4 big man bring to the table?
A: Connor is capable of giving Memphis productive minutes off of the bench as a freshman. We recently were playing against IMG Academy (Florida) and Connor came off of the bench, knocked in three straight treys, blocked 4 shots, and completely changed the flow of the game.
Connor is 7-foot-4, he can play multiple positions due to his ability to stretch the floor with his shooting, and also finish over-the-top inside. He needs to improve his mobility in terms of defending guard in switches, but he’s a unique player for his size. He is going to protect the paint with his shot-blocking and rebounding.
Q: How has the friendship between TJ and Connor evolved?
A: He and TJ are roommates, they very close both on and off the court, and Connor would love for TJ to join him at Memphis. Not only can Connor help a team win games, but he’s a great kid.
Q: Talk about the chances of TJ potentially suiting up for the Tigers next year.
A: I would love for him to play at Memphis, but it boils down to what their plans are for TJ and how much interest is truly there. We wouldn’t mind him coming off of the bench as a freshmen, but at the same time if he comes in and shows he’s capable of playing in a starting role, we would like that opportunity to be there for TJ as well.
Q: Memphis is also recruiting four-star point guard Tyler Harris of Cordova High School in Memphis. What do you envision if TJ and Tyler indeed decided to join forces at Memphis?
A: Together, TJ & Tyler can change the trajectory of the Memphis basketball program. Their game and skillsets complement each other so well, because they play with the same kind of motor. They’ve grown up, developed, and trained together in the same culture. I believe they are two sensational freshman that could bring back Memphis Basketball as we once knew it.
Q: When Jeremiah Martin was in 8th grade and TJ was in 6th grade they were teammates for one year. How is TJ’s relationship with Jeremiah Martin, and what do you remember about Jeremiah during the year when he and TJ were played together?
A: It was a great experience when they played together in middle school at Lowrance. TJ looks up to Jeremiah and they still talk today. Jeremiah would be a great mentor for TJ if they became teammates. When I saw him (Jeremiah Martin) in middle school I thought he was going to be one of the best players to come out of Memphis. Now Tubby has unleashed that player and he’s doing what we always knew he could do.
Terrence Moss Sr. (left), Jeremiah Martin (right)
Q: During Tubby Smith’s second season at Memphis, he’s displayed a willingness to adapt to his players game, specifically Jeremiah Martin. How does that help to attract potential prospects like TJ?
A: Coaches evolve and Tubby being willing to adapt his system to his players and personnel is important and it’s helping Jeremiah. Players like TJ thrive in those type of roles when coaches are willing to adapt to the way the game is being played.
(Photo: Justin Ford, USA TODAY Sports)