T. J. Leaf
Leaf (No. 22) with the Pacers in 2018
|No. 22 – Indiana Pacers|
|Born||April 30, 1997|
Tel Aviv, Israel
|Nationality||American / Israeli|
|Listed height||6 ft 10 in (2.08 m)|
|Listed weight||225 lb (102 kg)|
|High school||Foothills Christian|
(El Cajon, California)
|NBA draft||2017 / Round: 1 / Pick: 18th overall|
|Selected by the Indiana Pacers|
|2017||→Fort Wayne Mad Ants|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Stats at NBA.com|
|Stats at Basketball-Reference.com|
Ty Jacob "T. J." Leaf (born April 30, 1997) is an American-Israeli professional basketball player for the Indiana Pacers of the National Basketball Association (NBA). After playing one season of college basketball for the UCLA Bruins, he was selected by the Pacers in the first round of the 2017 NBA draft with the 18th overall pick.
Leaf was named an All-American as a high school senior in 2016. As a UCLA freshman in 2016–17, he earned first-team all-conference honors in the Pac-12. He also played for Israel's Under-18 junior national team at the 2015 FIBA Europe Under-18 Championship B Division.
Leaf was born in Tel Aviv to Karen and Brad Leaf. His father was playing professional basketball in Israel at the time, and he enjoyed a 17-year career in the country. Leaf lived his first 2 1⁄2 years in Tel Aviv before growing up in Lakeside, California, in San Diego County. His father coached him in summer leagues prior to high school. Despite possessing the height of a power forward—he stood 6 ft 3 in (1.91 m) in junior high—Leaf played on the perimeter to develop guard skills. His father wanted him to be versatile like the big men that he had competed against as a pro in Europe.
Leaf attended Foothills Christian High School in El Cajon, California, where he also played under his father. As a junior, Leaf averaged 27.4 points, 14.2 rebounds, 4.8 assists, 1.8 steals and 2.7 blocks per game, leading Foothills Christian to the San Diego Section Division II championship. Cal-Hi Sports named him their Division II State Player of the Year.
In his senior year, Leaf led the team to a No. 3 state ranking after averaging 28.4 points, 12.4 rebounds, and 5.1 assists. He scored a season-high 44 points in a loss to Chino Hills, who were led by future teammate Lonzo Ball. Leaf earned McDonald's and Ballislife All-American honors, and USA Today named him second-team All-USA. He was a runner-up to Ball for California Mr. Basketball. Leaf finished his high school career second all-time in the San Diego Section in both points (3,022) and rebounds (1,476). He trailed only his brother, Troy, in points (3,318 for Foothills Christian from 2007 to 2010) and Angelo Chol in rebounds (1,732 with Hoover from 2008 to 2011).
Leaf originally committed in 2014 to play for Arizona under coach Sean Miller. He tried out for the United States under-19 national team, also coached by Miller, but was cut in training camp in June 2015. In August, Leaf decommitted from Arizona, leading to speculation that the cut by Miller was a motivating factor. He signed with UCLA three months later, choosing them over Oregon and San Diego State. A consensus five-star and overall top-20 recruit, he joined his Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) teammates from the Compton Magic, Ike Anigbogu and Kobe Paras, who also committed to UCLA. The Bruins recruiting class also included Ball, who along with Leaf were both expected to lead a UCLA turnaround in 2016–17 after the Bruins finished just 15–17 the year before.
On December 5, 2016, Leaf was named Pac-12 Player of the Week following his performance at Kentucky, where he registered 17 points, 13 rebounds and 5 assists. He and Ball were named to the mid-season watch list for the John R. Wooden Award, given annually to the top college player in the nation; UCLA was one of just five schools with two candidates on the list. The two were also among 30 on the midseason watch list for the Naismith College Player of the Year. On February 1, 2017, Leaf scored a career-high 32 points on 14-for-18 shooting and added 14 rebounds in a 95–79 win over Washington State, which ended a two-game losing streak for No. 11 UCLA. He missed the regular season finale with a sprained left ankle, which he suffered five minutes into the prior game against Washington.
Leaf finished the season as UCLA's leading scorer with 16.3 points per game. He also averaged 8.2 rebounds and ranked third in field goal percentage (61.7) among Power Five conference players. He received honorable mention from the Associated Press (AP) for their All-American team, and was named first-team All-Pac-12 along with teammates Lonzo Ball and Bryce Alford. Leaf and Ball were also placed on the Pac-12 All-Freshman team. On March 30, Leaf announced that he would be leaving UCLA to declare for the 2017 NBA draft.
Indiana Pacers (2017–present)
Leaf was selected by the Indiana Pacers in the first round of the 2017 NBA draft with the 18th overall pick. He was joined in Indiana by Anigbogu, who was selected by the Pacers in the second round. Leaf began 2017–18 as a fixture in the Pacers' rotation, averaging 16.2 minutes and five shots per contest through the first eight games. However, he struggled on defense, and his playing time fell as Indiana coach Nate McMillan tightened his rotation. In December 2017, Leaf was assigned to the Fort Wayne Mad Ants of the NBA G League and averaged 23.3 points and 8.3 rebounds in a three-game stint before returning to the Pacers. He finished with 52 games played during the regular season, but saw limited playing time towards the end as the Pacers qualified for the playoffs.
In 2018–19, Leaf's minutes were limited playing behind big men Myles Turner, Domantas Sabonis, Thaddeus Young and Kyle O'Quinn. On February 28, 2019, he had a career-high 18 points in a season-high 22 minutes in a 122–115 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves. Leaf was forced into the game early after Turner and O'Quinn got into foul trouble guarding the Wolves' Karl-Anthony Towns, and held his own defensively against the All-Star center.
National team career
After being cut by coach Miller from the U.S. Under-19 junior national team in 2015, Leaf joined Israel's under-18 junior national team the following month in July, to play in the 2015 FIBA Europe Under-18 Championship Division B in Austria. Although Israel lost 73–72 in the Division B final, Leaf was named tournament's MVP, after averaging 16.1 points per game, on 55 percent shooting, to go along with 8.4 rebounds per game in nine games played.
|GP||Games played||GS||Games started||MPG||Minutes per game|
|FG%||Field goal percentage||3P%||3-point field goal percentage||FT%||Free throw percentage|
|RPG||Rebounds per game||APG||Assists per game||SPG||Steals per game|
|BPG||Blocks per game||PPG||Points per game||Bold||Career high|
NBA G League
Accomplishments and awards
- AP honorable mention All-American (2017)
- First-team All-Pac-12 (2017)
- Pac-12 All-Freshman team (2017)
- High school
- McDonald's All-American (2016)
- Ballislife All-American (2016)
- Second-team USA Today All-USA (2016)
- Second-team Naismith All-American (2016)
- Cal-Hi Sports Division II State Player of the Year (2015)
- 2× All-CIF San Diego Section Player of the Year (2015, 2016)
- "T. J. Leaf". USAB.com. Archived from the original on May 22, 2016.
- "archive.fiba.com: Players". archive.FIBA.com. Retrieved October 21, 2017.
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- "Lonzo Ball among stars on final rosters for Ballislife All American Game". USA Today. April 12, 2016. Archived from the original on May 19, 2016.
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- Maffei, John (March 15, 2016). "Unbeaten Chino Hills halts Leaf's Knights". The San Diego Union-Tribune. Archived from the original on May 26, 2016.
- Norlander, Matt (August 7, 2015). "Five-star forward T.J. Leaf de-commits from Arizona; UCLA now favorite?". CBSSports.com. Archived from the original on May 22, 2016.
- Zeigler, Mark (August 6, 2015). "Foothills' T.J. Leaf decommits from Arizona". The San Diego Union-Tribune. Archived from the original on May 22, 2016.
- Ryan, Conor (January 17, 2016). "UCLA commit T.J. Leaf showcases versatility in Hoophall Classic win". MassLive.com. Archived from the original on May 22, 2016.
- Kaufman, Joey (November 12, 2015). "Five-star power forward T.J. Leaf commits to UCLA". Orange County Register. Archived from the original on May 24, 2016.
- Hines, Travis (May 19, 2016). "Looking Forward: UCLA, Steve Alford and college basketball's most intriguing season". NBCSports.com. Archived from the original on May 24, 2016.
- Johnson, Chris; Woo, Jeremy (November 12, 2015). "Five-star forward T.J. Leaf commits to UCLA Bruins, Steve Alford". Sports Illustrated. Archived from the original on May 22, 2016.
- Hines, Travis (May 19, 2016). "Looking Forward: UCLA, Steve Alford and college basketball's most intriguing season". NBCSports.com. Archived from the original on May 22, 2016.
- Bolch, Ben (December 4, 2016). "T.J. Leaf's abundant skills were on full display in UCLA's upset of Kentucky". Retrieved October 21, 2017 – via LA Times.
- Brown, C. L. (January 11, 2017). "Maryland's Melo Trimble is only holdover from '16 Wooden Award Midseason Top 25". ESPN.com. Archived from the original on January 15, 2017.
- Fowler, Clay (March 2, 2017). "UCLA's TJ Leaf sprains ankle against Washington". The Orange County Register. Archived from the original on March 5, 2017.
- Bolch, Ben (February 3, 2017). "Leaf scores 32 as No. 11 UCLA beats Washington State, 95-79". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on February 3, 2017.
- Bolch, Ben (March 4, 2017). "Bryce Alford gets emotional in sendoff before UCLA's win over Washington State, 77-68". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on March 5, 2017.
- Fowler, Clay (March 25, 2017). "Thrilling ride made UCLA basketball's season-ending loss sting". Los Angeles Daily News. Archived from the original on March 26, 2017.
- "Ball Earns First-Team AP All-America Acclaim". UCLABruins.com. March 28, 2017. Archived from the original on April 23, 2017.
- Bolch, Ben (March 6, 2017). "UCLA's Lonzo Ball is Pac-12 freshman of the year and one of three Bruins on first team". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on March 7, 2017.
- "UCLA freshman TJ Leaf to enter NBA draft". ESPN.com.
- Botemps, Tim (June 23, 2017). "The biggest winners and losers from the 2017 NBA draft". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on July 11, 2017.
- Crawford, Dakota (December 22, 2017). "'Some guys feel they're above' G-League time, but T.J. Leaf embraces it". Indianapolis Star. Retrieved December 22, 2017.
- Crawford, Dakota (April 9, 2018). "How Kevin Pritchard stacks up for NBA Executive of the Year". Indianapolis Star. Archived from the original on April 23, 2018.
- Ayello, Jim (June 28, 2019). "T.J. Leaf adds the element that pushes the Pacers to victory". Indianapolis Star. Retrieved March 3, 2019.
- "SWEDEN SNATCH GOLD, SLOVENIA PROMOTED". FIBAEurope.com. August 3, 2015. Archived from the original on May 24, 2016.
- Chavers, Kyle (March 8, 2016). "Naismith Trophy Boy's High School All-America Team presented by Hilton Worldwide" (Press release). Naismith Trophy. Archived from the original on May 25, 2016.
- "2014–15 All-San Diego Section boys basketball team". The San Diego Union-Tribune. March 25, 2015. Archived from the original on May 25, 2016.
- "2015–16 All-CIF San Diego Section boys basketball team". The San Diego Union-Tribune. March 12, 2016. Archived from the original on May 25, 2016.
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