Video by Chris Spoerl
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Jayson Tatum
, the MaxPreps National Sophomore of the Year
, laid it all out in a single sentence.
The growing 6-foot-8 sophomore from
Chaminade (St. Louis, Mo.)
said his favorite player is Kobe Bryant and his nickname is "J," which is both a play off his first name and what he does best.
Like Bryant, Tatum likes to shoot and he often makes it. Frequently, under heavy duress as well.
Ranked the No. 4 player in his class nationally by 247Sports
, Tatum put up 72 shots last weekend in the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League Session One at the Jackson Sports Academy in McClellan Park. He made 30, while averaging 21.3 points per game.
Like Bryant, he filled up the box score as well, with 25 rebounds (6.3 per game) and 10 steals (2.5 per game).
That was the good news.
The bad news was his St. Louis Eagles AAU team went 0-4, losing a one-point game and three others by 11, 10 and 9 points.
"I definitely don't like to lose," said Tatum, sounding a lot like Bryant.
In fact, Bryant's competitive edge is the No. 1 reason why he idolizes the 16-time NBA All-Star.
"He always wins and he always competes," Tatum said.
Part of the reason he took so many shots — the most of any in the 400-plus player showcase — was because his team was playing from behind.
For 24-3 Chaminade, he averaged 26 points, 11 rebounds and four assists per game.
Blessed with smooth guard skills and a feel for the game, his recent growth spurt has allowed him to post up. He has extremely long arms and often throws over the top of shorter defenders. He sees the entire court.
He'll see it even better if one family doctor is correct. That doctor predicted Tatum won't stop growing until he reaches between 6-10 and 7-1.
"I was measured recently at 6-8½," Tatum said. "I don't know where I'll stop. But I'll keep working on my game."
Instead of Bryant, he might start mimicking Kevin Durant.
Either player or whatever position — he now plays either the 1, 2 or 3 — every college in the country would love to have him. Tatum said his recruiting process is completely wide open.
He was first offered in the eighth grade by Missouri, Memphis and Kansas followed with offers before his first prep game and now Florida and Kentucky are on his hot list. Duke, Michigan State, North Carolina, Ohio State and Saint Louis, his father Justin's alma mater, are other suitors.
Justin is the coach of Chaminade rival Christian Brothers (St. Louis, Mo.)
, and he played at St. Louis with former NBA standout Larry Hughes. Dad, Hughes and former Chaminade great and Wizards' starting guard Bradley Beal all continue to mentor Jayson.
"I'm enjoying the recruiting process now," Jayson said. "I'm sure it's going to get harder when I have to narrow my choices. Right now I'm just trying to have fun, work hard and help my teams win."