Tyler Simpson | Lead Writer
The state of Georgia produces great athletes of all sports, but is especially rich in basketball talent. With talent all across the state ranging from 2017-2019, it surely doesn’t disappoint in the talent category. Some of the best basketball players in the nation hail from the state of Georgia, with a player in 2019 who is flying under the radar and is extremely talented. TJ Bickerstaff, a 6’7” small forward from Sandy Creek High School in Tyrone, GA has caught the attention of some major division one programs, and continues to still work and get better. TJ, a future high major player, is only in the class of 2019 and has racked up several offers and interest from some of the top programs in the country. TJ, who plays for The Atlanta Xpress in the Under Armor Association will look to build a strong spring and summer to elevate his play to new heights. I was fortunate enough to catch up with TJ about a variety of topics.
How’s your season been going so far?
It’s been going good, getting better each game.
What’s your guys’ record for the season? How would you say you’re doing as an individual?
We are 19-6, as an individual I’m getting better each game, working in different areas on the court. Trying to perfect different crafts of my game.
Do you guys have a good shot at making the state tournament? Any potential matchups on the road there that will be tough?
Yes, we have a really good shot. The toughest game we will have will be against Cartersville.
Any specific players that they have that will make it tough or are they just an all-around good team?
They have one player who is nice but they are really just an all-around team.
Who’s the player?
Jaylon Pugh, I think he’s a senior.
2018 kid. You’re 2019, right? From Georgia as well?
Georgia’s got some nice teams and some great players in the state, who’s the toughest team you’ve had to play and player you’ve had to guard?
The toughest team we’ve played this year was Christ School in North Carolina. I can’t remember the toughest player I have had to guard though.
No worries, we’re going to transition with the topic a bit here, if you had to describe yourself as a player, how would you do so?
I would say very skilled all-around. I can handle and shoot the ball very well, and I make good plays on defense.
What’s one of your biggest weaknesses that you want to improve on before the AAU season?
Getting stronger. It’s not a big weakness but that is something I’ve been working on a lot.
What AAU team do you play for?
Atlanta Xpress for the UAA.
Awesome, they’re normally pretty good, if I can recall. Have you been hearing from any colleges yet? Have you been offered by any?
I have 7 offers and interest from NC State, UCONN, GT, UGA, and more.
With those schools that have interest, what’s sort of been their message to you before they offer?
They say that they want to get me early. They also say keep working, and they see me becoming a great player in the future.
Do you have any upcoming visits planned?
We haven’t planned any yet, we are really busy at this time.
You’ve got a couple more years to pile on offers as well. Is there a certain school that stands out to you this early?
Really, I like them all. My Grandpa told me that if you’re good, they will find you.
Always a good thing! All offers aside, if you had the choice to play at any school in the country, who would you choose and why?
Duke. With a coach like that you can learn so many different things about the game.
I’m a huge Duke fan so that’s awesome to hear. You’ll be at our event in Orlando next month, what are you looking forward to about our event?
Some competition, I want to test myself with some of the best kids in the country. I also want to get known on a national level.
Do you have any specific goals for the event?
To make the Top 20 game.
Always a good goal to have. Will this be your first showcase type event?
What others have you been to?
Super Sophomore, Hoopseen, John Lucas, OnTheRadar, and Big Shots.
How were all those camps?
They were good, a lot of competition.
I’m sure you just saw LaMelo Ball drop 92 the other night, any thoughts on that?
It was amazing, but I saw the video where he didn’t play defense. That’s still a hard number to get though!
Very true, kind of an odd system they run there in Chino Hills. Is there anything you’d like our readers or staff to know before our Orlando event, or what to watch from you? Is there a certain player you like to mold/compare your game after?
I just want you guys to look out for me that’s all. I model my game after Michael Porter.
Awesome! Any specific reason to why MPJ?
We play very similar, both have size and guard skills.
A lot of people have compared his game to KD, do you see the same attributes and style?
Kind of. MPJ uses more of a pull up game than slashing like KD.
I feel you, MPJ is incredibly skillful, not a bad guy to model your game after. Thanks for your time TJ! Extremely excited to see you next month in Orlando!
Thank you, can’t wait!