From many, there will be one. And while there’s still no guarantee contending athletes will win their own state at this point in the season, a number of elite performers are making a case for Gatorade National Boys Basketball Player of the Year consideration. Here’s the scoop on the latest top candidate.
Chaminade Prep (St. Louis, Mo.)
Greatness Present: If Jayson Tatum is one of the country’s elite high school basketball players (and he already has a pair of Gatorade State Player of the Year trophies to suggest as much), the early returns in 2015 certainly have done nothing to diminish that claim.
Of course, you needn’t just ogle Tatum’s averages of 32 points and 10.8 rebounds per game through Chaminade’s first six contests of the season to affirm that he’s among the nation’s finest. The 6-foot-8, 205-pound Duke signee has repeatedly proven his worth on the national stage as part of USA Basketball’s Junior National Select Team, with which he’s been a part of three straight gold medals in international play. And, he will once again don the Team USA jersey at the Nike Hoops Summit in Portland, Ore. this April.
Until then, however, Tatum will undoubtedly find plenty of motivation helping Chaminade Prep search for an elusive Class 5 state title in Missouri while squaring off against some pretty heavy duty competition. Early on in the 2015-16 campaign, he has gone head-to-head against fellow five-star recruit Malik Monk of Bentonvile, Ark., scoring 40 points in a 76-57 Chaminade triumph. (For his part, Monk was no slouch either, scoring 36 points including seven buckets from beyond the arc.)
Tatum also scored 25 points in a much-anticipated, nationally televised tilt against Oak Hill Academy (ranked No. 5 in the USA TODAY Super 25 Expert Rankings) in which Chaminade (5-1) ultimately lost 69-62, the Red Devils only defeat of the season to this point.
Greatness Past: During his second straight POY campaign last season as a junior, Tatum averaged 26.5 points and 11.7 rebounds per game, leading Chaminade to the 2015 Class 5 semifinals. He was also a member of both the 2014 FIBA U17 World Championship and 2013 FIBA Americas U16 Championship teams. In 2014, he helped Team USA to a 7-0 record and a gold medal win in Dubai, United Arad Emirates.
Greatness Future: Tatum signed his National Letter of Intent to play for Duke last month after being heavily recruited by top programs across the country.
Make no mistake: The Gatorade State Boys Basketball Player of the Year races aren’t by no means over, and the National POY race is just heating up. Time remains for one standout student-athlete among thousands to rise to the top of our list. Check back for daily updates on the top contenders making their case.