The next Demontez Stitt?

CLEMSON - CUTigers caught up with freshman guard T.J. Sapp as Clemson begins practice under second-year head coach Brad Brownell.

G T.J. Sapp Profile

Coming off of four consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances for the first time in school history, the expectations for Clemson basketball this year are as high as they've ever been.

However, the issue of replacing one of the most consistent point guards in school history in Demontez Stitt is significant.

Enter T.J. Sapp.

The true freshman was rated three stars by and has the same body type and skills as Stitt did during his four seasons in Tigertown.

So is he the next Demontez Stitt? We asked him in a recent interview:

What is like having so many freshmen on this team?
Sapp: We don't want to be the ones that mess that up. We want to come in here and take it to the next level. That's what all the freshmen are thinking. We have these juniors and seniors to lead us the right way, so we are just going to listen and follow.

Does it help that these juniors and seniors have had a year in Coach Brownell's system? And that they know already if you buy into the offense and defense, what it will bring you if you work hard?
Sapp: Even though we don't know all the plays yet, we know it's all about defense. If we come out and work hard on defense, you can go as far as the defense can take you. I was watching yesterday, the coaches and the older players doing a defensive drill. They emphasis defense a lot. The senior guards will pull us aside and tell us what we're doing wrong if we mess up, so we can go out there next time and do it right. Nobody wants to have to do extras if someone messes up. We all want to be on one accord. That's how they played last year, and it worked. When they got the ball back on offense, their defense was so tired from our team playing such great defense, so our team could run whatever plays they wanted.

How good is your defense?
Sapp: My defense is there, I can say that. I'm working on it getting better. I can't say I'm playing my best defense. I can do better. As long as I learn the techniques more, and the principals, I'll get there.

T.J. Sapp was rated three stars by in the 2011 class. (Roy Philpott)
How much is defense technique, and how much is it effort?
Sapp: Defense is more about effort than it is technique, and that's what I guess a lot of people don't understand. As long as you go hard, your technique can be off sometimes.

Give us a scouting report on yourself - what do you need to work on?
Sapp: Well, I would have to say he's a shooter, a lights out shooter. No I'm just playing. But he is a shooter. He can go off from time to time. He brings a lot of energy and will come out and do a lot of the trash work if you need him to. He can work more on his IQ and his decision making.

What other new guys stand out to you?
Sapp: I like all the young guys, I can't even lie. We all have a different style of play. KJ is the most athletic freshman. I'm surprised I didn't see him over the summer in the junior circuits. He's the most athletic guy I've seen in a while. Devin has the best body control I've ever seen. He can bump you out in the air, and still finish at any point in time. He's really versatile and he handles the ball just as well as I do. Rod sees the floor, he's a real point guard. He' s real athletic, you wouldn't think so, but he is. Carson is a shooter, he can shoot the ball from anywhere. So, I like all the freshmen. We all have our own style of play.

Did you get a chance to see Demontez when he played here? Are you that next Demontez Stitt type of player?
Sapp: That was my vision when I first got here. I watched all the Clemson games when I was being recruited. I like the way Demontez plays, he's that one-two guy. At times he can score when he needs to, and other times he can put plays on the floor. I'm hoping that when I'm here, I can make that impact just as well. I'm going to do whatever it takes to get on the floor, little by little. That's my first goal.

Is there a lot of excitement from all the young guys that there is playing time available?
Sapp: Yeah, there's a lot of excitement surrounding that. There's only six returning guys. That says there's time out there to get. It's a good thing there's only six returning guys because that makes everybody else work harder because everybody wants to play and everybody wants that spot. Top Stories