Jayson Tatum to Duke: Blue Devils Land 5-Star SF Prospect

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistJuly 12, 2015

Gregory Payan/Associated Press

Jayson Tatum, one of the top five players in the 2016 recruiting class, chose to continue his basketball career at Duke on Sunday. It's a marquee addition for the Blue Devils. 

"After my senior year, I’ll be attending Duke University," Tatum announced on ESPNU, per Dave Matter of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Tatum is a 5-star prospect who ranks as the No. 3 overall recruit in the 2016 class and the top-ranked small forward, according to 247Sports' composite rankings. The outlet notes he had more than a dozen offers, mostly from elite programs around the country.

Jackson Korman of DukeChronicle.com was quick to weigh in following Tatum's announcement:

Tatum chose Duke over St. Louis, Kentucky and North Carolina. Although the Wildcats and Tar Heels were the other traditional powerhouses chasing Tatum, the Blue Devils also had to clear a significant obstacle in convincing the St. Louis native to take his talents to Durham instead of committing to his hometown Bilikens. Tatum's father is a St. Louis alum and locals pushed him to stay at home but the recruiting pitch from the five-time champion Krzyzewski won out.

The Chaminade College Prep School product fits the mold of a modern small forward. He can score in a variety of different ways—particularly excelling when he attacks the rim—defends multiple positions and constantly plays at a quick pace because of his high basketball IQ.

Rarely do you see him indecisive. Whether he's going to shoot, drive or pass, he sees the game one step ahead of his opponents and immediately makes his move. That court vision is almost universal among top-end players, regardless of the level.

Gregory Payan/Associated Press

Adam Zagoria of SNY.tv passed along comments from the forward about how he'll fit into an offense.

"I mean I'll play wherever coach needs me and where I can help the team out. I don't have a preferred system or role," Tatum said. "But I do like getting up and down, and I think that fits me well. I also like playing a lot of pick-and-roll."

It's easy to get distracted by the hype that comes along with being a top prospect. Despite that, Tatum has continued to perform at a high level.

Evan Daniels of Scout passed along the rising star's numbers from an Elite Youth Basketball League appearance in Houston back in May:

Paul Biancardi of ESPN highlighted a specific aspect of Tatum's game that he loves:

Evan Daniels @EvanDaniels

Jayson Tatum got it done at EYBL Houston. Scored 106 points in 4 games. 29-for-54 from field. 48-for-53 from FT line. Only shot 1 three.

Shooting can slump, but hard work never does. Even when Tatum is not lighting up the scoreboard, he finds a way to make a positive impact on the game.

Paul Biancardi @PaulBiancardi

The more I evaluate Jayson Tatum (@Im_that_dude22) the more I come away impressed by how he plays on through his frustrations. #NextPlay

Tatum will still need to bulk up to fill out his frame and prepare himself for the rigors of a season, especially at the NBA level. He could also benefit from becoming more consistent with his three-point shooting to keep defenders honest.

The strengths in his game far outweigh the weaknesses, though. He should have little trouble making his presence felt at the college level. Once he adjusts to the speed of the game, his terrific talent should begin to shine through.

Korman also noted the impact Tatum could have on the future of Duke's recruiting process:

Tatum's commitment could bode well for the Blue Devils' chances of landing Giles. The duo has grown close off the court and got a taste of what playing together would be like in the FIBA U19 Championships earlier this month. Both Tatum and Giles have spoken about the possibility of playing together and competing for a championship at the next level. With Tatum in tow, Duke becomes a strong favorite to land Giles in what could become a highly coveted dual threat.

As always, when a prospect with such a high ranking arrives, it's unclear how long he will stay. The one-and-done approach is common. If everything goes smoothly as a freshman, he could follow that path.

All told, Tatum's value to the program should be sky-high for as long as he decides to stay at Duke.


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