By Benjamin Shinault
WHEN one thinks of a basketball team, they think of brotherhood, and Rider men’s basketball’s recruiting staff took that literally, bringing in two brothers from Warwick, Rhode Island, named T.J. and Tyriek Weeks.
T.J., a graduate student guard, spent his previous four seasons at the University of Massachusetts where he was a starter who averaged 8.8 points, 1.3 assists and 3.7 rebounds per game last season.
“I’m very good at using my speed to get by defenders, and creating shots for myself and others on the court,” T.J. said.
Tyriek, on the other hand, is a sophomore forward who transferred from Miami Dade College, a junior college where he shined offensively with averages of 14.3 points, 7.4 rebounds and shot 40% from three.
“I bring a good post game, I play with finesse and know how to cut without the ball and rebound the ball well,” said Tyriek.
Both brothers will bring something different to the team this upcoming season, but with an age gap between the siblings, T.J. plans to use his veteranship to help out his brother with navigating through the tough world of collegiate basketball.
“I told [Tyriek] that college players are faster and stronger but most of the game is mental,” T.J. said. “I told him that he can do anything that he puts his mind to and all he has to do is put in the work.”
While Tyriek was still in high school, T.J. was already getting his feet wet in college basketball when he played at UMass. Tyriek witnessed his brother live out his childhood dream, hoping that one day, they could take the court together.
“I’ve always loved watching T.J. play, and especially when he was at UMass,” Tyriek said. “I used to sit and imagine myself out there helping him in battle and doing the things he did. Now that I have an opportunity to do that it feels surreal.”
The Weeks have helped each other become better players, whether it be mentally or physically.
“He’s helped a lot by explaining to me how hard the Division I level is, especially the physical and mental aspects,” Tyriek said, “We worked on playing each other a lot, helping each other get better, competing against and pushing each other.”
Before college basketball, the Weeks brothers grew up playing summer league basketball, but have yet to play a full season with each other.
“I wasn’t ready to play with T.J. in high school,” said Tyriek. “I still had to mature and get better, and I’ve finally done that.”
With T.J. and Tyriek both being potential difference makers on the court, plenty of basketball programs up and down the east coast would’ve loved to have one of them on their roster, but for them, family came first.
“Our mom has always been saying it’s her dream for us to play together ever since we were kids,” said Tyriek. “When the opportunity came, it was a no-brainer that this year, we were going to play together.”
The basketball blood in the brothers’ veins runs deep, as their father, Tyrone Weeks, also played basketball for UMass.
“Just knowing what our dad did back in the day at the University of Massachusetts, he was a part of something really special when he played. He is always in the stands cheering and coaching us,” said Tyriek.
The brothers also had their mother with them in and out of the gym doing whatever she possibly could to make their lives easier.
“Our mom always took care of us, doing the little things in our lives, spending countless hours with us in the gym, even rebounding for us,” Tyriek said. “She stays on us about ball and our school work, especially.”
The brothers knew that no matter what team they played on, family was always in their corner.
“We’re truly blessed to have the both of them and they inspire us to be great everyday,” said Tyriek.
When T.J. and Tyriek first suited up in their matching cranberry garbs a familiar confortable feeling was in the air.
“When we arrived, there was already a strong family-like bond here, so it was very easy to fit in,” Tyriek said.
“We all have a common goal which is to outwork each other and compete extremely hard and to win,” T.J. said.“When everyone is on the same page and it feels like a family already, it’s easy to support each other and build day by day.”
With Rider still reflecting on how it wrapped up this past season, T.J. and Tyriek shared what fans can expect from the new-look Broncs: “A Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Championship and an NCAA Tournament berth is always the goal, but you should expect all of us to get better each day and compete.”