Tahj Eaddy’s basketball odyssey has been circuitous, to say the least. To paraphrase that Johnny Cash song, he’s been everywhere, man.
It started in West Haven and has since taken him to New Jersey, Memphis, Atlanta, Missouri, Santa Clara, Calif., and now, Los Angeles, his final and most prominent stop. Eaddy is a starting guard for the USC men’s basketball team.
That’s seven different schools in the past eight years.
“I’ve been all over, for sure,” he said with a laugh.
Eaddy’s journey will come full circle, in a way, when he’s back in Connecticut this week for the Legends Classic at Mohegan Sun Arena. USC was slated to face BYU in its opening game on Tuesday and either UConn or Vanderbilt on Thursday, but the tournament’s schedule will change now that Vanderbilt has dropped out.
“It’ll definitely be nostalgic, being back there,” he said by phone last week, “because I haven’t really been back ‘home’ home for an extended period of time. So, that’s definitely going to be cool.”
Eaddy’s parents, Emery and Tanisha Younger-Eaddy, grew up in Bridgeport and starred in basketball and track, respectively, at Bridgeport Central. Emery played basketball at Norfolk State, but settled his family in West Haven, where he and Tanisha raised three sons. Tahj still has a brother, grandparents, aunts and cousins living in the West Haven/Bridgeport area.
A couple of years ago, however, Eaddy’s parents sold their West Haven home and bought an apartment out in the Bay Area in California to be closer to Tahj while he starred at Santa Clara University. And when Eaddy left for USC as a graduate transfer last March, his parents decided to move down to Los Angeles.
“Just for them to be down here, it’s definitely cool,” Tahj said.
In Eaddy’s USC debut on Wednesday, he scored 18 points — second on the team only to Evan Mobley, one of the most heralded freshmen in the country — as the Trojans eked out an overtime win over California Baptist. Not bad for a kid whose relative lack of size and strength had his first high school coach believing, at the time, that he was probably a Division III player, at best.
“I was always kind of a late-bloomer,” Eaddy admitted. “You can kind of tell by my body frame. It’s still kind of, not frail, but slender in a sense. So you can only imagine when I was 17, 18 years old.”
He received very little Division I interest while at Notre Dame-West Haven.
“I definitely had a chip on my shoulder,” Eaddy added. “I always had the skills and things like that. The consensus was always, ‘He’s good, but he’s kind of small, I don’t really know if he’ll be able to play at this level.’ I always wanted to prove myself, show that skill level would take over and allow me to compete at a high level.”
After his junior year at ND-WH, Eaddy transferred to a prep school in New Jersey, then to Tennessee Prep Academy in Memphis. He spent the 2015-16 season playing at The Skill Factory in Atlanta and was recruited to play at Southeast Missouri State.
Eaddy had a solid freshman season, averaging 7.5 points in 30 games (12 starts) and ranking fourth in the Ohio Valley Conference in 3-point shooting at 42.4 percent. But he wanted more.
“I felt like it was time to make a change and take that next step as a player,” he said. “Also, to get more notoriety, kind of build my resume. Definitely trying to take that next step.”
Santa Clara was one of the first schools to contact him. Playing in the West Coast Conference alongside Gonzaga, BYU and Saint Mary’s, at a school that boasts a certain point guard alum named Steve Nash, attracted him. So did Santa Clara’s academic reputation.
“That was always a big priority for me,” he said.
After sitting out a season per NCAA transfer rules, Eaddy started all 31 games for the Broncos in 2018-19, averaged a team-best 15 points per game and earned second-team All-WCC honors. He went 12-for-12 from the foul line in one game, joining Nash and Jared Brownridge as the only players in school history to go perfect with at least 12 attempts.
“Any time your name is mentioned with somebody like Steve Nash, it’s always a special feeling, very humbling,” said Eaddy, who got to have some valuable conversations with the Hall of Famer when Nash came back to visit the school.
Eaddy’s playing time dipped a bit last season, starting less than half the Broncos’ games and averaging 9.1 points per game. After graduating with a degree in communications, he went south to USC to play one final season as a grad transfer.
And now, here he is, starting at point guard for USC. His 10th point on Wednesday marked the 1,000th of his college career.
Surprising? Not to Jason Shea — that same coach who believed Eaddy was at best a Division III player while at Notre Dame-West Haven.
“I’m not surprised at all,” Shea said last spring, “because he was so good and so skilled. I told people how good he was when he was at our school. He got taller, he got stronger (in college). He wasn’t a late-bloomer, skill-wise. He was one of the best shooters in the state as a (junior). He was really good.”
“There’s always kids out there you say, ‘Wow, if that kid was 2-3 inches taller, or had 15 pounds more muscle, that could be a Division 1 kid,’” Shea added. “Well, he’s exactly that. He actually did those things.”
This week at Mohegan Sun Arena, where Eaddy has never played, he brings it all back home. At some point over the next few days, he could face UConn, a team he rooted for while watching Kemba Walker and Shabazz Napier win championships.
“It’s always fun to play great competition,” Eaddy said. “They’re gonna be really talented this year, so I’m excited for that battle. Being able to play my hometown team would definitely be cool.”
Even for a guy who’s had a lot of hometowns in recent years.
THIS WEEK’S AP TOP 25 BALLOT
Here’s the AP Top 25 ballot we submitted on Sunday night:
1. Gonzaga: Positively No. 1.
5. Villanova: Basically lost twice to Virginia Tech on Saturday, in regulation and overtime.
6. West Virginia: Derek Culver is a Man.
8. Michigan State
12. Florida State: Seminoles still haven’t played a game.
14. Richmond: Spiders webbed themselves some Wildcats on Sunday afternoon.
15. Arizona State
16. Kentucky: Guess Richmond is this year’s Evansville, only a whole lot better.
17. Texas Tech
19. Florida: Gators haven’t played yet, either.
22. Providence: Friars get to play in Maui Invitational this week … in Asheville, N.C.!
23. Saint Louis
24. UConn: “See you at Mohegan,” Dan Hurley said … or will we?
Please go to GametimeCT.com High School Sports to read full article.