LBCC Men’s Basketball – An Interview with TJ Zimmermann

Zimmermann in a game against Chemeketa in 2022. Photo credit: Sarah Rose Larson

TJ Zimmermann is a sophomore forward on the Linn-Benton men’s basketball team. Last year, he helped the Roadrunners finish their season second in their conference with a 15-15 record, making the NWAC Playoffs. 

Zimmermann led the Roadrunners with 21 points per game last year, which ranked sixth in the entire NWAC. His efforts were rewarded at the end of the season, as Zimmermann was named the NWAC’s Freshman of the Year as well as earning a spot on the NWAC South’s all-region squad. 

His father, Todd, has been the team’s head coach since last year. 

Last year was LBCC men’s basketball’s best year since 2017 – how did it feel to reach that accomplishment? 

Man, it felt great! I think everyone on the team last year came in knowing how the previous years had gone and I fully believe that each and every one of us wanted to play our part in the turnaround. To me, it felt like everyone knew it was more than just winning games or being competitive – we really wanted to set up a culture for the team and program that hasn’t been set in too long. It meant a lot to be able to do what we did last year and make the tournament, including overcoming some major adversity at the end of the year. It didn’t end how we wanted it to, but that team has set the standard for what LB basketball wants to be moving forward.

What are the team’s goals for this upcoming season? 

Our goal is to win every day! Whether it’s weights or conditioning, practice, or a game, our goal is to win. We want to be champs of the NWAC South region, we want to make the tournament, and we want to win the tournament. Everyone here can feel the excitement and potential of this team. 

On a similar note, you were first-team all-region for the NWAC South last year and named Freshman of the Year – how did it feel receiving those honors, and how are you hoping to build on that this year? Do you have any personal goals for this season?

It honestly meant a lot to me that the coaches of the NWAC South felt I was deserving of that award. It’s something that I want to build off of for sure because I know the work I have done this offseason to improve off of the player that I was last year. Of course, I have my own personal goals that I will be pursuing this year, but it’s much bigger than that. The most important thing I can do is to do whatever the team needs me to do. Whether it’s scoring, rebounding, or passing out of a double team to hit one of my guys for an open shot, my personal goals align with that of the team.

This will be your second year playing basketball at LBCC – has your role on the team changed at all heading into this season? 

I would say that my role has changed somewhat for sure and grown heading into this season. Last year’s team had some guys who had been grinding out their time at LB for three years due to COVID and all of that stuff, and everyone knew that there were certain leaders on the team last year that we all held a ton of respect for. Those guys – Ayden Foster, Tyson Parker, Jace Mills, Grant Dunn – truly helped build the culture in their final year. I’m looking forward to being able to lead and continue on what we were able to accomplish last year.

There are a lot of new players on the LBCC team this year, whether they’re transfers or incoming freshmen. How do you feel about the new-look roster this season? 

I’m super excited! We have a really talented squad this year, but we also have a lot of really good young men on this team. The bond that we started making all the way back in August continues to grow stronger through all of our hard work, and I’m really excited about what this roster can do. New guys like Davvy [Davion] Burdette and Cade Smith, who can go get a bucket whenever you need it. Snipers like Liam Spencer and Eli Lerman, ball handlers and defenders like Jabreel Emerson and Mesziah Ford. I don’t really have time to fully do all of these guys justice, but I’m excited they’re here and I’m fired up to play with them.

How has the experience been having your dad, Todd, as your head coach? 

It’s been great for the most part! [laughs] I played for my dad and another coach, Chris Reese, growing up during AAU [Amateur Athletic Union] and it’s something I really enjoyed. I was looking forward to being able to do it in high school, but it never panned out that way. It’s something I’m truly grateful to be able to be experiencing, and something that I’ll always remember and enjoy for the rest of my life. We don’t always see eye-to-eye on everything if you get what I’m saying [laughs] but it’s truly been lots of fun.

What are you most looking forward to with the LBCC basketball season starting back up? 

I think I’m just looking forward to being able to play real, meaningful games with this team. I think our first two road trips will be a lot of fun, as well as getting to the tournament at the end of the year, but I’m honestly just looking forward to a great year with my guys.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers? 

Come to the games and show some love and support! It’s awesome to see the bleachers full of people on game night. Go Beaks!

Zimmermann and the Roadrunners start their 2023 season on November 17 against Linfield JV at 7:30 p.m. The game will be held at the Activities Center on the Linn-Benton Albany campus.

At a glance:

TJ Zimmermann 

Number: 44

Year: Sophomore

Hometown: Albany, Oregon

High school: West Albany

Position: Forward

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