Taj Thweatt knows his role for the Wildwood Catholic basketball team. And it has nothing to do with anything that takes place on the court.
The highly touted 6-foot-9 senior power forward who has committed to West Virginia loves being the team comedian for the Crusaders.
“It’s just my personality to tell jokes a lot of the time,” Thweatt said Tuesday. “It brings everyone happiness. We don’t like having people mad on our team. Just being able to tell jokes builds chemistry and keeps everybody in a good mood.”
How funny is Thweatt?
“He’s very funny,” Wildwood Catholic head coach David DeWeese said. “He makes me laugh a lot. He likes to break the tension. And not only the things he says, but the things that he does. He’ll do things that causes the whole team to break out in laughter.”
Not many opponents are chuckling at the prospect of facing Thweatt and the Crusaders these days. Thweatt was averaging 18.6 points per game for Wildwood Catholic, which was 12-2 and winners of eight straight after Wednesday’s 82-43 victory over St. Augustine Prep. Thweatt joked his way to 28 points and 19 rebounds in that game. Before that, Thweatt had a 21-point, 14-rebound game against Christian Brothers on Jan. 11, followed by a 36-point showing in a 101-82 victory over St. Joseph on Jan. 15.
“We’re playing defense, moving the ball in transition and working in critical situations,” Thweatt said. “We’re having a lot of fun right now.”
With the frontcourt tandem of Thweatt and Temple-bound forward Jahlil White around, the Crusaders are playing an old-school power basketball game. Still, Thweatt made a specific point of working on his jump shot this offseason with an eye on both his senior year and allowing his game to grow before heading into the Big 12 battles moving forward.
“The main thing that I wanted to do was just keep shooting,” Thweatt said. “I made a point of getting more reps in the gym. We have a lot of players who can go for 30 a night. So I’ve tried to focus on getting better every day, going to the basket, getting good shots and defense.”
Being around the game has been in Thweatt’s blood since he was young. His older brother, Alonte Blackwell, played at Girard College and East Stroudsburg before the family moved to the shore when Thweatt was 9.
“When I used to live in Philly, we would just keep playing basketball," Thweatt said. “I kept looking up to him, and I wanted to make sure that I could get into the gym at every chance that I had.”