I started playing basketball when I was 4 years old. My mom gave me a basketball and basketball is the only sport I played all my life, when I started to get older, I knew it was something I could do for the rest of my life

T.J. on how it all started.

California - The Motherland.

“California is so nice, you got the ocean, nature but also the city life. It’s a mix of everything.​

Playing for UC Davis was good for me because it wasn't too far from home which meant that I was close to my parents - but it was also a perfect place to leave home and become a man and learn about myself. The environment was perfect.​ 

« UC Davis was the only scholarship I had after high school and junior college; I am grateful to have had a Division 1 School take a chance on me». 


After college, you went overseas to start your pro career. Was it an easy process to find a pro club as a college player from a small school?​

​"Finding my first job was so hard, the first 3 months of my rookie season I did not have a team. I went to China for a 2-week tryout camp, and after that, my agent called me to announce that a team from Latvia wanted me. I joined the team, not on a full contract but a 2-week tryout. So I went there, showed them what I can do on the floor and was given a full contract after those 2 weeks."​

« The process was not easy but I'm proud I made it!». 


"When I left California to go to Europe it was a joke for me! Latvia was cold, I didn't speak the language, and the food and the lifestyle were so different. It was a huge change but it was exciting and I wanted to embrace the culture. I opened my mind, I tried different foods, went to visit places, and tried to learn some of the language. There were some ups and downs in my first year but I glad I made it.​" 

Do you have any tips or advice for any rookies in Europe who are struggling? Whether about basketball or connecting with the culture?​

"The biggest tip I can give is to stay consistent and continue to put in the work. There's gonna be a lot of ups and downs because you need to prove yourself. Show up early at the gym, and ask questions to your coaches and teammates." 

2023 - a succesful year

After one year in Latvia and having been named best scorer of Fiba Eurocup, TJ signed with Hamburg. There he discovered a new country where he stayed for 3 years to finish with Bonn.  His achievements in this significant year included:​
MVP of Champions League, Final 4 BCL MVP, Champions League winner and MVP of the German league - a crazy year! 

TJ shared his thoughts on this amazing season with us:​

« I still don’t know how I accomplished so much. I think the circle I have with my family and friends helped me a lot. My coach and my teammates believed in me and gave me the confidence to do what I was able to do. I think it’s every kid’s dream to win a championship and to be MVP in the same season, it was super special. At this point it’s the biggest year of my career, I will never forget where I started in my career to where I got to, just the work I put in, both early the morning and late the night, the sessions with my personal trainer in the summer at home. I am grateful for everything. 

« I did everything to be successful ». 


Another season, another club... but this time in a different country. Welcoming you to Paris, France, and plenty of players from your last club joined as well, can you explain the process of your signing, but also everyone elses journey to Paris?​

Coach Lisalo was the first one to sign for Paris. He started to reach out to different players. We had a really good core and wanted to try to keep it by staying together - but we also understood we would have different offers because of our successful season with Bonn. 

For Paris, it was not a group commitment like “Hey let’s all go to Paris together” but more like “Paris has a good project, the could reach the Euroleague and be on Europe's basketball map, it can be very special”. One by one we started to see a bigger picture of Paris Basket and we decided to join the City of Light. At this point it was a good season, winning the Leaders Cup, the Eurocup and finishing as 2nd seed in the French Playoffs. 

« I think nobody from Bonn who came to Paris has regrets ​with their decision because we are all in a (even) better place. ». 

THE Relationship with Coach Lisalo

« My relationship with Coach Lisalo goes back to Bonn where he recruited me. He believed in me straight from the start, gave me the keys of the team and let me be me in his system. He allowed me to be free on the court and play with a lot of speed.​ 

I think it’s one of the biggest things in Europe when you have a coach who believes in you. I'm grateful for him, bringing me to Bonn and now Paris.»

« The trust he has in me helped me to elevate my game to a level I didn't know I could reach. ». 


Your first season is not over. You already have two trophies, two MVP titles and looking for another one! Can you tell me, from your perspective, what’s the reason for this success? How and why is Paris different from any other team right now?​

« I think the main reason for our success this season has to do with the players and the staff. We brought a lot of guys from Bonn, we matched instantly with the guys who were already here as well as the new ones too.

We had a long pre-season, we got to know each other’s build chemistry - understand what my teammates like and don't like - and from there we have been able to create something special. When you see us play, you can feel we are all on the same page. Everybody wants to win. There are no egos on this team. We have a lot of different characters and personalities but when we step up on the basketball court it all goes out the window. »

« We're all on the same page, everybody wants to win». 


Next year you will enter the Euroleague the 2nd best league in the world - but you've already played in European competitions; The Eurocup, Champions League and The Fiba Eurocup. How did you adapt to this different competition?​ 

« Adapting to these competitions is probably the toughest thing as every international competition is totally different. For me, I think I've been building up to this. It's something I wanted. It started with the Fiba Eurocup, moving up to the Champions League and Eurocup and finally the Euroleague next year. 

We need to trust the system and trust the work we've put in throughout the year. It’s doesn’t matter if it's Fiba Eurocup or a Euroleague game, you need to be the best you can to be successful and help your team to win.» 


What do you need to improve to be an efficient player next season and reach the next level? Do you watch any other small guards who play in the Euroleague? Campazzo, for example? 

« For me, every year I'm trying to improve everything in my game. I want to be the most complete player I can be. The main focus point for me is to be a more consistent shooter, to continue to prove to people that I can be a threat from various ranges. ». 

« I am always watching film from other guards, Campazzo or Shane Larkin for example. They are really good players who use their size very well. Using it as an advantage at this level is impressive. When I was kid, I always watched Chris Paul too. 

TJ Shorts, the hooper, in 5 words.

Let’s talk about your game, can you describe in 5 words, the type of player you are on the court? 

Quick: I like to play with a lot of speed

Leader: I am trying to be an extension of the head coach on the court​. 

Energetic: I always try to hype guys up, and keep the mood of the team high, I am always joking and dancing with the guys!

Fearless:  I've never been scared of anything, and that won't start now!​

Competitive: Every time I step on the court I want to win. From one on one drills to 5x5 games. Shooting drills or ball handling - it doesn’t matter I want to win! I think bringing a competitive spirit elevates the team so it’s good thing. 

Heart over height 

You're a small guard, and for lot of people, that's a downside. For you, though, it doesn’t look like it is. How do you use your size in your game? ​ 

« Being a small guard, a lot of people see it as a disadvantage, but I've been small my all life! You start to find advantages. Being so low to the ground means I can make quick crossovers, I use my speed against bigs. I know people are trying to attack me when we're on defense but my teammates help me a lot and do a great job protecting me.

Can you give some tips to people who are told that they're too small to play pro or high-level?​

Be a pest! Be annoying for other teams but for your team, they love to play with you. You need to make things difficult for all the players in front of you. Be active and show them you're here during the whole game. Defend the full court, and use your speed, these kinds of things will help you to be successful. Every guard is different, but for smaller guards, I feel the main thing is to be the most annoying guy to play against!

« You've got to learn how to use your body at any level. ». 

The love from the fans

You've previously been 'under the radar', and now you are shining! A lot of people discovered you this year and appreciate your game, do you feel that? 

« I definitely feel the love in France, this is my first year but I feel like the City of Paris and the fans accepted me for who I am.​

In every gym, I see fans who ask for pictures or autographs. I treat fans with respect, and they pay back the same. I am really grateful for that! 

Mister MVP

With the end of the regular season around the corner. I have an easy question, do you think you will be the French League MVP? ​. 

« I feel I can be the MVP of the league - but that’s something I don’t control. We'll see what happens with the votes. It could be Mike James too, he’s the best player on the best team in the league. I won't be mad if it’s him because he deserves it too." 

TJ is a finalist to be the French League MVP with Mike James and Nadir Hifi. Results will be announced at the end of May. 

« I think i could well the MVP of the French league this year». 


Can you build your best five and a 6th man of the French league?  ​

TJ Shorts, Mike James, Alpha Diallo, Isiaha Mike, Joffrey Lauvergne and Elie Okobo​

You have unlimited money to build a Euroleague roster and reach the Final 4. Who would be your starting five and the 6th man? ​

TJ Shorts, Kevin Punter, Nigel Hayes Davis, Chima Moneke, Walter Tavares and Mike James​

Since playing in Europe, you have met a lot of players. Can you name the ones you think are underrated and deserve more respect? ​

Mikael Jantunen (Paris Basket) is young and upcoming. Not a lot of people know about him. I think he'll be a very good player, he is super smart and can shoot.​

Zaccharie Risacher (JL Bourg). I know he already has the lights on him because he will be the top pick in the next draft, but I think people don’t realise how good he is at his age. I really like his game, I think he will be successful in NBA.

Arturs Zagars (BC Wolves). He was injured for a long time during the season, we played him in our season opener. He plays really well and can really hoop. If he can stay healthy, he will be a really good player at Euroleague level.

​ What are your 3 favourite teams in the Euroleague?​

Barcelona, Partizan Belgrade, Real Madrid


Where will TJ Shorts be in 5 years?

Hopefully still hooping at Euroleague level. I hope my name will ring more bells in Europe. I hope I'll inspire young kids to be like me, to be great in or outside basketball - in what they do in their life in general. I hope to continue to play basketball and continue to live my life in the best way I can. Who knows what will happen!

« I hope to live my life in the best way I can» 

We want to thank TJ Shorts for his time and Paris Basket who welcomed us. We wish them the best for the end of the season.

By Sacha S

Sacha is Bouncewear's Community Manager for France. He connects with athletes, clubs and events to further extend the Bouncewear Family. He has worked for Fiba and Combine Academy so his world revolves around the orange ball just as much as ours.