Growing up in Jackson, Tennessee with his father Albert Merriweather, mother Mitiz Merriweather and three sisters, Kayla, Kelsea and Karen, A.J. Merriweather began working hard at a very young age. The influence of his sisters led him to picking up a basketball.
“My sisters played and watched it so it was pretty much a family thing,” A.J. said. “I picked it up, loved it, still love it. It’s just one of those things that once I started dribbling … I couldn’t stop.”
Following in the footsteps of Albert Merriweather, A.J. chose to help his dad in the concrete business instead of engaging in distractions. Sweat hitting the concrete turned into sweat hitting the court for AJ as he continued to play the sport he loved.
“Him making me go to work kind of instilled a nonstop or never-settled feeling, like a ‘always wanting more’ and that carries on to the basketball court” A.J. said. “On the hot days out on the construction job, you think you’re tired, but you have all this concrete you have to lay out and you have to keep going. It’s kind of like basketball, you think you’re tired, but you have 10-12 more minutes to play in the game and you have to keep playing.”
Those 10-12 minutes were not easy to withstand when A.J. began to play pickup games at the YMCA. A.J. chose to play with the older competition instead of kids his age.
“I don’t know why I played up,” A.J. said. “I was getting ‘cooked’ playing up, but it helped.”
Through middle school A.J. feels he was never the best player on the court and believes he has always been a “late bloomer.” In high school, AJ played for South Side High School where he averaged 14 points, eight rebounds, two steals and two assist his senior year. He was also an all-district, all-region, all-state selection, named as a finalist for Tennessee Class AA Mr. Basketball and had the highest grade point average on the team.
Since being here at ETSU, AJ has showed that he is not shy to the game.
“Going into the game I always want to be aggressive,” A.J. said. “Whether its aggressive on defense, offense … just aggressive period. If that requires me to go get three defensive rebounds and two offensive rebounds, that’s being aggressive to me. If it’s denying the passing lane, that’s aggressive. If it’s going to score a bucket, that’s aggressive.”
A.J. came into ETSU aggressive as he led the team in rebounds with 6.3 in his freshman season (2013-2014). Sophomore year he started 28 out of 30 games played, led the team in rebounds again with 6.1 and led in shooting percentage among starters with .486. Junior year he finished fifth on the team in scoring and third in rebounding.
This season is A.J.’s last run in collegiate ball, and he is looking to give it his all.
“I hate talking about it, but it’s here,” A.J. said. “I’m looking forward to making memories and it being special. We have a special team and we have all the pieces. Hopefully in the Lords will everyone stays healthy and just make a great run and make a memory.”
A.J. is majoring in Engineering and is looking forward to helping his dad after school.