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Why You Might Know Him
Jayson Tatum joined an elite list last year when he was named Gatorade National Player of the Year for the high school class of 2016. Just how top-notch is that list? Well, the three winners before him – Ben Simmons, Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins – all ended up being selected No. 1 overall in their respective NBA draft classes. Six of the last 11 GNPOY winners before Tatum ended up being the league’s No. 1 draft pick, including two-time winner LeBron James and Dwight Howard. Now, fresh off of a stellar freshman season at Duke, the 19-year-old forward is hoping to join another elite list by earning the top spot in the 2017 draft class.
Possessions Scouted from 2016-17 Season:
OFFENSE: 20.3 percent of possessions
DEFENSE: 21.0 percent of possessions
Jayson Tatum, at 6-foot-8 and 204 pounds, already has a great frame and it will only fill out with more muscle and added strength as time goes on. He will be a strong physical specimen in the NBA. However, he does not possess elite explosiveness or athleticism to go along with his impressive build. Tatum, for now, is best suited to operate offensively in isolation, be it in the post or on the perimeter. He is very comfortable in the post, where he excelled at Duke. He is not refined there and needs to add to his repertoire of moves. He is similar to Paul Pierce in that he creates space for shots with footwork, skill and anticipation as opposed to elite athleticism and explosiveness. On the perimeter, he has an impressive first step and attacks the basket with commitment and is a strong finisher. He is not yet an above-average ball handler and he tends to get caught in no-man’s land while forcing things. He absorbs contact well. He cuts well off of the ball. His jumper is very quiet, meaning there is not much movement to it. I love that his shoulders are always square to the basket and that he has a clean – though not quick – release. He is, and will continue to be, a very good rebounder for his position. Defensively, he has quick hands and solid feet and instincts. Combine those assets with his build and you have a player who can become a very good defender. Around the basket, however, he gives up early and deep post position. Tatum’s body and abilities will allow him to be a versatile forward at both ends of the court for whichever team selects him.
Jayson Christopher Tatum was born March 3, 1998 in St. Louis Missouri to Brandy Cole and Justin Tatum. He has one younger brother, Jaycob, and a younger half-sister, Kayden. Tatum’s father played Division I college basketball at Saint Louis University and now serves as the head coach of Christian Brothers College High School in St. Louis. The elder Tatum had the unique opportunity to coach against his son in high school, as Jayson attended CBC’s archrival Chaminade College Prep in Creve Coeur, Missouri. Tatum began to make his mark as a freshman at Chaminade as he averaged 13.3 points and 6.4 rebounds per game during his first high school season. He then erupted during his sophomore season, averaging 26.0 PPG and 11.0 RPG. Tatum maintained his averages during his junior season with marks of 25.9 PPG and 11.7 RPG, while earning second-team Naismith Trophy All-American honors and being named MaxPreps National Junior of the Year. During his senior season, Tatum averaged 29.6 PPG and 9.1 RPG while guiding Chaminade to the 2015-16 Missouri Class 5A state championship. He was tabbed 2016 Gatorade National Player of the Year, was a McDonald’s All-American and participated in the Jordan Brand Classic and the Nike Hoop Summit. He also made a mark on the international stage, earning gold medals for the United States in the 2014 FIBA U17 World Championship and the 2015 FIBA U19 World Championship. Rivals and ESPN ranked Tatum as the No. 3 overall recruit in the 2016 high school class, while Scout and 247 Sports ranked him at No. 4 overall. The well-decorated forward narrowed his college list down to Kentucky, Duke, North Carolina and his father’s alma mater, Saint Louis, before eventually deciding to commit to the Blue Devils’ program. During his lone season under coach Mike Krzyzewski at Duke, Tatum averaged 16.8 PPG, 7.3 RPG and 2.1 assists per game, all while shooting 45.2 percent from the field, 34.2 percent from 3-point range and 84.9 percent from the free-throw line. He missed the first eight games of the 2016-17 season due to a foot injury, but didn’t take long to make an impact once he returned to the court. Following his first full week of action on Dec. 12, 2016, he he was named ACC Rookie of the Week. Tatum proved to be at his best when playing against nationally-ranked opponents. His top four scoring performances all came against Top-25 teams, including a career-best 28-point effort on Feb. 15 against No. 14 Virginia. During that performance against the Cavaliers, he tied a program freshman record by canning six 3-pointers on just seven attempts. Tatum finished second among ACC freshmen in scoring and rebounds, while also ranking second among his teammates in those categories. He spearheaded Duke’s impressive ACC Tournament championship run, averaging 22.0 PPG and 7.5 RPG during a four-games-in-four-days stretch. Amazingly, he played 153 of a possible 160 minutes during the four-day stretch. Tatum then led the Blue Devils to a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament and starred during the first round as he notched 18 points, 12 rebounds, four blocks and four steals during an 87-65 win over Troy. However, Duke was upset 88-81 during the second round by seventh-seeded South Carolina, as Tatum logged 15 points, three rebounds, five turnovers, and fouled out near the end of the game. The 19-year-old earned a number of accolades following his freshman season. He earned a spot on the ACC All-Freshman team, was named to the Third-team All-ACC, and was one of five finalists for the Julius Erving Small Forward of the Year Award. On March 22, Tatum opted to forego his sophomore season as he declared for the 2017 NBA Draft.