Jayson Tatum is showing Springfield why his name is often accompanied by five stars.
The 6-foot-9 forward from St. Louis’ Chaminade is signed to play for Duke next season. The iconic coach Mike Krzyzewski wants Tatum to play for him, and Tatum wants to play for “Coach K.”
Krzyzewski’s career features five NCAA Division I Championships, a plethora of coaching awards, more than 1,000 career victories and international experience coaching Team USA in the Olympics and World Championships.
“Being in (Krzyzewski’s) presence and being able to learn from him—I feel like I can only grow as a person on and off the court,” Tatum said.
Tatum scored 21 points and pulled down 16 rebounds in Chaminade’s 67-48 win over Christ the King (Middle Village, New York) in the opening round of the Bass Pro Tournament of Champions.
Along with 2015 Tournament of Champions alumni Harry Giles and Malik Monk, Tatum is considered by most experts to be one of the very best basketball recruits in the class of 2016.
Chaminade is presently the No. 1-ranked team in the Missouri Basketball Coaches Association Class 5 state poll, one spot ahead of Kickapoo. Tatum and the Red Devils are excited for the chance to play in the nationally recognized Tournament of Champions.
“It means a lot. It’s our first time here. It’s probably the best high school tournament in the country, so we’re honored to be here,” Tatum said.
Tatum’s father, Justin Tatum, won the 1997 Tournament of Champions title with Christian Brothers College. He went on to play for St. Louis University.
Tatum played for Team USA at the junior level in the 2014 FIBA Under-17 World Championship and the 2015 FIBA Under-19 World Championship. Before Tatum trades the Red Devils for the Blue Devils, or the stars and stripes, he would like to experience postseason success in Missouri with Chaminade.
“That’s all that matters right now, just one game at a time. Looking forward, hopefully we get to the state championship. We’ve been working for it for four years,” Tatum said.
Chaminade coach Frank Bennett II has enjoyed coaching the five-star recruit.
“(Tatum) makes it easy. He’s very coachable, and obviously he’s very good. When very good players are very coachable, it makes my life a lot easier,” Bennett said. “He’s an outstanding young man and he’s a heck of a basketball player.”
Bennett played basketball at Drury University from 2001 to 2005 and scored 1,178 points in his career. The Tournament of Champions trip is a homecoming of sorts.
“(Springfield) is my second home. I was fortunate to spend five years here,” Bennett said. “I really grew up down here, so it’s great to come down here and see a ton of familiar faces.”