Sapp under the spotlight

Sapp under the spotlight

CLEMSON - Upgrades to the courts at Littlejohn Coliseum left T.J. Sapp and his fellow 2011 teammates in a bind shortly after their July arrival to Clemson.

Like any other normal college freshmen, Sapp and the other four freshmen on the Tiger basketball team needed help navigating campus. Senior captains Tanner Smith and Andre Young pointed them in the direction of the Fike Recreational Center.

"The upperclassmen, they feel like our older brothers already," Sapp said. "They don't feel just like a team. It feels like one big family.

"I'm with Tanner and Andre constantly. I'm just trying to find out something from them, or trying to get better. One day, I want to be in their position, in their shoes."

As a senior at Northeast High School in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., he averaged 21.6 points per game and was named a 5-A first-team All-State selection by the Florida Association of Basketball Coaches. He averaged 19.4 points and 5.4 rebounds as a junior.

This season, Sapp hopes he can play a role in taking Clemson to a fifth-consecutive NCAA Tournament.

No pressure to return to the Big Dance. Only motivation.

"I have to step my game up. I don't want to be the reason -- we don't want to be the reason to bring the tradition down. We want to bring it up," he said.

The Clemson coaching staff encouraged Sapp to sharpen his point skills during summer workouts. With the graduations of Demontez Stitt and Zavier Anderson and recent transfer of Cory Stanton, Sapp is looking at some serious playing time this winter.

"Coming up, I was more of a combo guard. I'm in the process of transitioning myself into a pure point guard," Sapp said. "I'm 6-3. Most guys have to be about 6-5 to be a wing.

"I'm loving playing the position, the point guard position. You control the game. You make things go. I like having the pressure on me. I like having that power in my hand."

According to Sapp, he possess the characteristics sought after in an ACC point guard.

"I bring a lot of toughness and hard work…I'm the type of guy that loves to bring energy. If I can bring some extra oomph to the program, I'm definitely going to do whatever I can to put that into everybody else," he said. "I think I can shoot the ball quite well, pass the ball quite well, too. A defender, I'm a solid defender. I'm trying to get way better at that, as of now."

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