PJ Byrd was four year starting point guard for coach Ronnie Courtney at Ft. Bend Bush HS. He earned district MVP, all greater Houston, all state, & Under Armour Association All American. He is mentioned with great lineage of guards to come out of Ft. Bend, and in November signed his letter of intent to play collegiality at VCU for coach Mike Rhodes. I picked his brain on several topics and wanted to share his insight on playing at the next level.
OTRE: What’s been the biggest adjustment so far between college basketball & HS basketball?
PJ: I think the biggest adjustment is the speed and the physicality. You have to learn how to play at a high level and be able to handle that.
OTRE: How has playing for a tough coach like coach Courtney and coach Aaron Harrison prepared you?
PJ: Playing for Courtney and Harrison really prepared me for how college really is. Being challenged and yelled at every day really got my skin tough for when I got to VCU.
OTRE: Academically, what’s been the biggest difference in taking college classes?
PJ: I think time management is a big key in college. Work isn’t hard if you apply yourself, but if you let your work pile up and not turn stuff in on time you’re not going to be successful.
OTRE: How has your preparation changed in terms of getting ready for practice, watching film, etc?
PJ: College has taught me that everything matters when it comes to preparation. I literally have to be at the gym a hour early just to get my body and mind right for practice, because when I step on the court they expect no less than 120%. So that makes me take stretching and shoot around more seriously , EVERY SINGLE DAY!
OTRE: Talk a little bit about the competition you face everyday in practice, & how you have to compete in the weight room, on the track, & on the court?
PJ: College basketball is a business. These coaches are trying to provide for their family and do what they have to do to win. So they are going to do whatever it takes to win and if you’re not coming with it, they won’t think twice to find someone else to get the job done. So you have to try and compete and win at everything you do . Whether it’s staying 10 minutes more after practice too shoot, or having the fastest times on the track, because your going against the next man for minutes.
OTRE: Socially how have you adjusted to Richmond, VA & how is it different than Houston?
PJ: I think being on the east coast has shown me a different outlook on culture. Their slang is different and also being a basketball player at VCU , everybody wants to meet and talk to you so you have to make sure you stay humble and give back some of your time to fans. But that’s also helped me make new friends in school, because you never know when you will need help from someone. So giving time and learning how to hold a conversation is big.