Saturday evening I attended the Chicago Elite Classic, a high school basketball showcase held at the UIC Pavilion that featured premier talent from around the country. While every team was full of future collegiate players, I was there to check out one in particular: Jayson Tatum.
Tatum is a 6’9″ senior at Chaminade College Prep in St. Louis and is considered to be the second best player in his class. Jayson is headed to Duke next year, where he will likely wow the ACC for a year before being taken one pick before the 76ers can get him in the 2017 NBA draft. For some background on Tatum, check out this great profile by Ricky O’Donnell from SBNation.
Tatum’s Chaminade team went up against Miller Grove high school from the Atlanta area in a game that required overtime to finish, thanks to a crazy game-tying buzzer beater from Miller Grove’s Alterique Gilbert. He’ll be suiting up for the UConn Huskies next year. Gilbert had himself a very nice game offensively as he was able to get to the basket and hit several tough shots from three point range. Unfortunately, nobody who attended Saturday’s showdown will remember it much.
That is because Jayson Tatum put on a clinic on how to play basketball. Tatum finished the game with 40 points, 11 rebounds, seven assists and three blocks. He dominated the game in every imaginable way and completely took over an overtime period that never should have happened.
Tatum has a complete arsenal of offensive moves that make him impossible to guard. He flashed a pretty polished post game, able to take it across the lane for a layup or step back for a jump shot. His ball handling makes him very dangerous in transition. Several times he grabbed a rebound and glided coast-to-coast for an easy layup. He didn’t attempt many shots from deep on Saturday, but he did bang home a triple from NBA range as the halftime buzzer sounded.
Despite the massive point total in this game, Tatum never hunted his own shot at the detriment of his teammates. In fact, he spent most of the first half capitalizing on the attention the defense paid him by finding his guys for wide open looks around the court. Several times he was able to spot help defenders sinking into the paint before he even began his drive and whipped pinpoint passes to shooters in the corners.
Miller Grove stormed back from a double digit deficit in the fourth quarter to force overtime, but Tatum made sure that Chaminade returned to St. Louis with a victory. Tatum glided to the basket at will in the extra period and forced Miller Grove to send him to the line, where he was automatic. He has a smooth, confident stroke from the charity stripe that makes me think he will eventually develop into a very good three point shooter.
Jayson Tatum is already the darling of high school basketball, and it is only a matter of time until he becomes a household name to NBA fans across the world.
For full highlights from Tatum’s explosion, check this out.