Player Spotlight: Princeton G T.J. Bray
After much anticipation and discussion, the “Return to Rec” game is nearly here for the Nittany Lions. Penn State will be hosting the Princeton Tigers in Rec Hall for the first basketball game there in over 17 years. The Nittany Lions defeated Wisconsin in that contest by a score of 79-50, but will have to play at a high level to defeat a formidable Princeton squad, which is led by senior guard T.J. Bray.
Bray missed the Tigers first three games of the season due to a preseason hand injury, not seeing any game action until Princeton’s game against Rice on November 23. However, since that time, Bray has come on strong, and proved why head coach Mitch Henderson named him a team captain.
The senior guard is averaging 13.7 points per game to go along with 5 rebounds. He is also quite the facilitator, averaging 5 assists a game, and became the first Tiger player to have 10 assists against a Division One opponent in 22 years, against George Mason.
Bray was named Ivy League Men’s Hoops Player of the Week in his first week back on the hardwood. He has led Princeton to impressive wins against a strong George Mason team as well as a Bucknell team that defeated Penn State a few weeks ago in the Bryce Jordan Center.
A native of New Berlin, Wisconsin, Bray attended Catholic Memorial High School where he excelled on the court. He led his team to a 27-2 record as a senior and a state championship victory. He earned Wisconsin Mr. Basketball honors and was named the state and conference player of the year.
In his first year at Princeton, Bray was the only freshman to appear in all 32 of the Tigers games. He was also the only Princeton freshmen to get any playing time in the Tigers NCAA Tournament game against Kentucky.
As a sophomore, the New Berlin native started 31 of 32 games for Princeton, scoring double-digit points in nine of those contests. This success carried over to Bray’s junior year, where he started every game for the Tigers, earning Second Team All-Ivy League Honors.
Bray is Princeton’s all-around best basketball player and will cause some matchup issues for Pat Chambers’ squad. As a guard at 6’5”, he has a height advantage over both D.J. Newbill and Tim Frazier, and his long arms make him difficult to simply pass around.
The senior guard has often looked to pass first, with much success, but does have the ability to shoot with a .496 field goal percentage. Being a senior leader, Bray has taken matters into his own hands more often than in years past, and will continue to do that in this game in order to neutralize a fired-up Rec Hall crowd.
Since his return, Bray has been the floor general for the Tigers, and Mitch Henderson seems to be comfortable with Bray leading the charge. Penn State will need to try and take Bray out of his comfort zone in order to secure a victory.
Bray and the Princeton Tigers will look to ruin Penn State’s “Return to Rec” party this Saturday, at 2:00 p.m.
Andy Madore is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo Credit: (AP Photo/Mel Evans)