Jayson Tatum is a 6-foot-8 monster of a forward who can score on all three levels on the basketball court, is blessed with the ever-elusive hoops clutch gene and, perhaps most importantly, wins.
Earlier this month he was named Gatorade Male Athlete of the Year after leading Chaminade College Prep (St. Louis, Mo.) to a state title averaging 29.5 points and 9.1 rebounds a game.
Tatum’s got more gold medals with USA Basketball (U19, U17 and U16 teams) than most NBA Hall of Famers and he ended high school ranked No. 3 overall in the ESPN 100.
Still, despite a resume that already reads like a lifetime achievement bio, Tatum wasn’t immune to the typical “welcome to college” schooling a couple months back when he got to Duke’s campus for summer school.
“When you get to college,” Tatum said. “It’s a different animal.”
Tatum saw his “favorite player” Jabari Parker shooting around in the practice gym and walked in.
“He wanted to play one-on-one,” Tatum said of Parker.
Talk about a tall order; Parker averaged 14.1 points and 5.2 rebounds a game for the Milwaukee Bucks last season. He was even better in his one and only season at Duke in 2013-14, averaging 19.1 points and 8.7 rebounds a game in route to earning ACC Freshman of the Year and All-America first team honors.
Duke’s star of the past played its star of the future eight times.
“I think I won like two games,” Tatum said with a laugh. “It just was another reminder about how hard I have to work. He’s in the NBA, but college is another level in all areas. That just made me want to work that much harder.”
Follow Jason Jordan on Twitter: @JayJayUSATODAY