Jayson Tatum is widely regarded as one of the most versatile and explosive players in the country, regardless of class and is ranked No. 3 overall in the ESPN 60. As a starter on the USA Basketball Men’s U16 National Team, Tatum, a sophomore, helped USA win gold at the 2013 FIBA Americas U16 Championship in Uruguay last summer. This season he’s averaging 26 points, 10 rebounds, 4.5 assists, two steals and two blocks a game. That kind of production has college basketball heavyweights like Kansas, Kentucky, Duke, Ohio State, North Carolina and Michigan State, among many others, applying the full-court recruiting press. Tatum has agreed to give USA TODAY HSS exclusive access into his world by chronicling everything from intimate details about his recruitment to his everyday life in a monthly blog.
What’s up world!
I’m definitely happy to let you guys know that I made the U17 team! When we found out everyone was really excited and happy to get the chance to come to Dubai and try and bring home the gold medal for our country.
I thought I had a good chance at making the team, but when they call you in that room and they start calling the names out you can’t help but to be a little bit nervous.
I can’t remember the last time I had to tryout for a team other than with USA Basketball, but it’s good to push yourself and compete for something this big.
Everyone down here is elite so we’re all getting better by going against each other every day in practice. I think Malik Newman has had that highlights of the tryouts and practices; the guy just gets buckets!
I was on the U16 team and we won the gold last year, but Coach (Don) Showalter told us that last year was like the JV tournament and this is the real thing. We start playing this weekend and I can’t wait; I think we’re all ready to go out there and get this done!
There will be more teams this time and we’ll play more games. I think the key will be the scouting because we don’t know anything about the teams. I know we’ll be ready.
I’m definitely excited about getting a little sightseeing in while we’re in Dubai too.
The tough part will be being away from home all this time.
I won’t get back until Aug. 18 and I’ve been away trying out then practicing and now playing for the gold since July 24. This is the longest I’ve ever been away from home; last year we were gone for about 18 days and that was tough so this experience has been tough too.
The good thing is that I’m doing something that I love and hanging with all my guys!
For the most part we just hang out and kick it, but we definitely compare notes on different coaches that are recruiting us down here.
A lot of us have heard some of the same things from coaches and the funny thing is sometimes the same coaches send me and Harry (Giles III) the same text, Haha!
All of the coaches recruiting me have contacted me and congratulated me on making the team and wished me luck here in Dubai.
I haven’t set any visits yet, but when schools starts I definitely will be getting to some schools that I haven’t been to yet. I’ll let you guys know when I set those up.
The coaches all say the same things for the most part, but sometimes you’ll have a coach say some funny stuff like one of the coaches from Arizona came to watch me play at Peach Jam and he said I was out there looking like I was on 2K playing with cheat codes I was dominating so much, Haha!
I had a really good talk with Coach (Tom) Izzo the other day on the phone and we talked about basketball a little, but then we just started talking about normal stuff. I had never really seen that side of him and that was cool to get to know him on that level. I liked that.
OK everybody I’ve gotta get ready to run, but I had to give y’all a quick update before we go out and try to win this gold for the USA!
I’ll be back after the tournament to let you know all about the experience; hopefully with a second gold medal!
Don’t forget to follow Jayson Tatum on Twitter: @Im_That_Dude22