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Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
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Monday / September 26.
  • Jayson Tatum Talks Schools, Planning Duke Visit

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    Jayson TatumBy EDDIE GIBBON

    SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — Jayson Tatum, who recently retained his spot as the top junior nationally by ESPN.com, finished with a team-high 25 points and 14 rebounds in Chaminade College Prep’s (MO) 88-78 victory over Paul VI (VA) in the finale of the 2015 HoopHall Classic on Monday.

    Matched up with star wing V.J. King, who recorded a tournament-best 38 points, Tatum overcame a slow start to lead his team to an impressive  win. With UConn head coach Kevin Ollie looking on, Tatum showed why he’s such an impressive prospect.

    “Me and V.J. are really good friends,” Tatum said of his USA U17 teammate this summer in Dubai. “We’ve been building our relationship since eighth grade.”

    When asked if there is potential for a package deal he said, “We haven’t talked about it, but we’ve been on the same team twice. We know each other’s strengths, and I think we play well together.”

    At 6-9, Tatum made a couple threes, drove the ball to the basket effectively and showed off his prowess as a passer. There is very little he can’t do on the court, which is why some of the nation’s blueblood programs are on him hard. Duke, Kansas, Kentucky and UConn are just a few of the schools on his list of 10 that will soon be trimmed to five.

    In terms of future visits Tatum said that he plans to visit Duke for their game against Syracuse on Feb. 28. There have been no other visits set at this point.

    When asked what he likes about Duke’s program, Tatum said, “They have one of the greatest coaches ever [Mike Krzyzewski], with almost a thousand wins now. They have a great tradition, with lots of great guys that come into that program. It’s somewhere I can see myself going.”

    When asked what coaches have been in to see him recently, Tatum said that North Carolina head coach Roy Williams was in to last weekend.

    “Duke and North Carolina are very similar,” he said W”ith all of the national championships, Final Fours, coaches and players they’ve produced.”

    Another school that has been on Tatum for a while is Kentucky. He was actually the first player to be offered by the Wildcats in the Class of 2016.

    When asked what his interest level is for Kentucky he said, “I have very high interest in them. They offered me when I was a freshman or sophomore, and I’ve built a great relationship with Coach John Calipari. I’ve been there twice already.”

    When asked what he thought of the Wildcats performance so far this season, Tatum said, “[Coach Calipari] has done a great job with all of the egos and great players on the team. All of them have come together, and they’re undefeated.”

    Kansas is another school that is high on Tatum’s list. “I talked to coaches Bill Self and Kurtis Townsend, and they wished me good luck,” he said. “They’re a top five program, and coach Self has done a great job of producing pros. Ben McLemore is from St. Louis, and he’s a guy that I have a good relationship with.”

    With both parents graduates of Saint Louis University, Tatum said that the pull to stay home and play for the Billikens is definitely there.

    They’ve been recruiting me for a while, and obviously my mom went to law school at SLU and my dad played at SLU,” he said. “I’m a hometown kid, and I know how much it would mean to the city if I stayed home and played there.”

    In terms of future plans Tatum said that he plans to cut his list to five before the summer AAU circuit.

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    Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle. A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013. He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.