Three years ago, T.J. Cline barely avoided being cut from Plano West's freshman B team.

Freshman coach was like, Coach I don't know if he can make the team, said varsity head coach Anthony Morgan. And I'm watching him -- didn't know who he was, didn't know his background. And I said, you know this kid knows a little bit about the game.

Last spring, coach Morgan didn't even know his last name.

Coach Morgan went up to him and said, 'Hey, T.J. Lieberman!' said Nancy Lieberman, laughing. And T.J. didn't say anything.

I was kind of shy, I was the new guy here, I was on JV last year, said T.J. Cline, a senior forward for the Wolves. I didn't want to correct him or get on his bad side or anything.

Today, he is the leading scorer and rebounder for the 5th ranked team in Texas.

Obviously he grew into one of our primary players, said coach Morgan. Probably the best player in our program now.

It helps that his mom is one of the best best women's basketball player of all time. Nancy Lieberman won two national championships while playing at Old Dominion in the late 70's, and also spent a year touring with the Washington Generals, which is the famous opponent to the Harlem Globetrotters.

Now, she's enjoying being a basketball mom. If any parent says that they don't dig it when their kid wants to do something that they did, or have the number you wore, they're not telling the truth.

T.J. and his mom spend a lot of time talking about basketball and watching his game film. It's his willingness to learn, and the fact that he has such a great teacher, that has helped T.J. improve so much so quickly.

We'll be sitting at home watching a game, said T.J., and just the stuff she points out -- like she doesn't even know she's saying it; she'll just say it because that's the coach in her.

And she'll just say stuff, and I'll look at it, and when she leaves, I'll go rewind it and see what she's trying to say.

If you look at the great athletes out there, he's not the greatest, said Lieberman. He's going to get better. He doesn't jump as high as everyone; he's going to get better. Nobody has his skill set.

The Wolves are one of the best teams in the state, and if their best player continues to improve, the team as a whole will too.


Read or Share this story: