Jason Smith has been the head coach at Brewster Academy for the past 12 seasons. He has led the Bobcats to a National Top-1o ranking in 10 of the last 11 seasons, and has won 74% of his games. Smith has had the opportunity to see a plethora of talent come through his program over the past decade, and according to him, NC State commit TJ Warren stands out in the mix.
“TJ was very unique. We’ve had a lot of talented players over the past 10 years, including this years Kansas standout Thomas Robinson,” said Smith. ”If TJ’s not the best pure scorer we’ve ever had, he’s in the conversation with Memphis’ Will Barton.”
Warren went to Brewster and accepted a role that might seem shocking to most. This McDonald’s All-American was willing to go to another state, and go to a school that was asking him to come off the bench to be a spark on offense.
“It’s not very often that a McDonald’s All-American does that. He accepted his role,” said Smith. ”We needed him to be that spark of offense off the bench, and he was. He still led our team in scoring and played the same amount of minutes as a starter.”
While Smith applauds Warren’s flexibility, he admits the transition wasn’t necessarily easy at first for the newcomer.
“I would say it was challenging. TJ has grown and matured a great deal since he arrived on campus in September. I applaud people like TJ for doing what he did,” said Smith. ”He left his hometown where he was ‘the man’. Instead of being ‘the man’, he was one of 7 guys that signed with Division-I schools here. People like TJ see the big picture. They realize that’s what it’s going to be like when they goes to college.”
Warren and his Brewster teammates haven’t let their guard down just because the season is over. They’ve been in the gym battling…preparing each other for the next level that awaits them. Coach Smith hasn’t stopped coaching them either. He continues to push.
“I’m not sure what TJ’s background was before here, but he didn’t shoot the ball as well here. His long-range shot is an area he needs to develop. He still needs to work on the defensive end, but all players need to get better at that end. He needs to work on strength and conditioning in particular, which he’s been doing a lot of this Spring,” said Smith. ”When he first got here we had to lock him in there and make sure he got it done. This Spring he’s been getting it done in the weight room. I think right now he’s around 220 and 223. I told him I thought that his ideal playing weight is 215. With that being said, he’s got a great midrange, a floater, and is solid around the basket. His midrange game is what makes hims so effective. He knows how to get players on his hip. He’s a matchup problem for most 3’s.”
In fact, Smith admits that he pushes TJ harder than he does most, because he sees what he can be.
“What TJ probably doesn’t realize now, and will when he gets there, is that this year at Brewster is different than the way I coach other guys. I coached Thomas Robinson differently,” said Smith. ”I coached Will Barton differently. I coached TJ differently. I coached these guys differently because I realized their ceiling is so high.”
The Bobcat head coach believes there is more than meets the eye with Warren, and he has no reason to believe that he won’t see continued success putting the ball in the basket at the next level and beyond.
“No question he is more athletic than most people realize. He was dunking on other 6’9-10 guys last night at open gym, while getting fouled. I think he could have the same type of impact at the next level that he had here,” said Smith. ”His ability to score the ball is completely natural. TJ’s such a pure scorer, he has the skill to put the ball in the hoop at three different levels.”