Tatum to Announce College Choice at Peach Jam Finals


Long-time Saint Louis prospect Jayson Tatum will announce his college decision Sunday, at 9 a.m. Eastern time, live on ESPNU, prior to playing in the Peach Jam Final.

Earlier in the year, Tatum narrowed down his list to three powerhouses: Kentucky, North Carolina, and Duke, and to the surprise of many, his hometown Billikens. Many believed leaving SLU on the list was just a courtesy to the school that his father played at, along with his godfather (Larry Hughes), as well as to the city where he’s lived his whole life.

However, Tatum refutes that claim, contesting on multiple occasions that SLU remains a real contender. “I love the school. I love the players, the program, the people that work there, the atmosphere. I’ve visited SLU multiple times and there’s a strong possibility I go there”, said Tatum in an interview with the The Courier Journal earlier this week.

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Basketball-wise, there’s no player in the country that has the full package like Tatum. Dribbling, passing, shooting, or defending, it’s hard to find holes in the kid’s game. He’s not a walking highlight reel, but makes all the right decisions, and has the ability to go above the rim with next-level athletes if he needs to. Many people consider him the top prospect for the 2017 NBA Draft already, which says a lot.

For SLU, it says that he’s a program changer, a guy that will facilitate a funneling in of elite St. Louis hoopers to SLU, a pipeline that Coach Jim Crews has severed in recent years. In my opinion, Crews threw all his money into the Tatum lottery, knowing that acquiring his commitment will be the difference between him being or not being SLU’s head coach for the 2016-2017 season.

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A commitment from Tatum would not only change a basketball team, but also would shine hope on a city that’s seeing its darkest hours. The affect of SLU basketball on the city of St. Louis cannot be overemphasized. For example, the three best Billiken seasons in the best 15 years (’12,’13,’14), also saw the city’s lowest crime rates in that same period of time. Over this last season, arguably SLU’s worst over the past decade and a half? Homicide rates are up 60%, according to KSDK.

There’s been no concrete leads towards where Tatum will choose, but many believe it’s down to SLU or Duke. The Blue Devils carry a slight edge because, well, it’s Coach K, and also due to Tatum’s expressed interest in playing alongside fellow top-2 player Harry Giles, another Duke recruit.

No matter where he decides, Tatum will make an immediate impact. The difference? At SLU, he’ll have the city on his back (ala LeBron), which is a heavy burden to place on an 18 year old. At Duke, he’ll be part of a system that’s proven time and time again it can and will churn out championships and elite NBA talent. That burden though, isn’t a burden to Tatum, but rather a motivation.

It takes real courage for a young man to take that on. With all the issues surrounding SLU’s program, and the city of Saint Louis, a lot of people wonder who can fix them. Tatum answers that question with his Twitter handle: “I’m that dude.” Sleep easy Billikens, tomorrow will be a good day. Knock on wood.

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