Tahjai Teague embraces role as funny guy for Ball State basketball
Tahjai Teague almost always has a smile on his face.
The redshirt freshman forward is Ball State basketball's funny guy.
"I always try to make somebody laugh during the day,” Teague said. “I try to bring that fun spirit. When you don’t want to be here, it’s an early day, I just try to get us going like that.”
Sophomore center Trey Moses said Teague is probably one of the funniest people he has ever met.
“There is never a dull moment with Tahjai,” Moses said. "It’s just his personality. He’s definitely the one to make us laugh.”
Head coach James Whitford said Teague's humor doesn't get in the way of the team, though. If anything, it helps keep the long grind of a college basketball season from eating away at the Cardinals.
“There can be a weight, inadvertent, that kind of keeps on the group because you’re trying to perform at an elite level everyday,” Whitford said. “He has a great way of both embracing that part of it, but not doing it in a way that takes the fun out of things.”
It’s easy for Teague to joke around and have fun with his teammates. Even 24-year-old teammate DouDou Gueye thinks the 20-year old can be funny — sometimes.
“If you’re really sensitive, you might want to fight him,” Gueye said. “He’s a nightmare, but he’s a good kid.”
Teague's sense of humor helped guys like Gueye, a graduate transfer from South Carolina State, come together as a team.
“There’s no more like small groups on the team, we're all one now,” Teague said. “We all talk and joke around in the locker room, but be serious on the court."
At the 16:18 minute mark in Ball State men’s basketball exhibition game on Nov. 3 against the University of Indianapolis, Teague checked into the game — 355 days later than the Indianapolis native had planned.
A 2015 foot injury during a summer workout pushed the forward to redshirt because he feared he wouldn’t be healthy enough to play.
“It was his decision, but I recommended it,” Whitford said. “I told him whatever decision he made, I’ll live with it. Thought it was in his best interest.”
“Everything just feels normal again,” Teague said.
Teague has turned into more than just a spark off the bench. The go-to sixth man, as Whitford calls him, holds a bigger role than just providing his average of 7.1 points and 5.7 rebounds per game.
The 6-foot-8-inch, 218-pound forward has a much larger frame than his older cousins Jeff and Marquis. Jeff currently plays for the Pacers in the NBA, and Marquis is playing professionally in Russia.
Teague averages 18.2 minutes per game, but when he's splitting defenders or elevating for monstrous dunks, Whitford said Worthen Arena's crowd gets behind Ball State.
“He’s to me on the way to being an elite stretch four," Whitford said. "It’s his ability to move as well as he does with his length that makes him unusual.”
As Teague and the Cardinals finish out Mid-American Conference play before the conference tournament, Teague is looking to stay focused and have fun along the way.
“I’m always trying to smile,” Teague said. “I’m always laughing and joking. I’m really never in a bad mood.”