the north face discount Jayson Tatum is on track for NBA
He was 8 at the time. So I had to ask him has it sunk in that, if all goes according to plan, you could actually play against King James, two Novembers from now?
“It’s still crazy to think about,” he said.
The star from Christian Brothers College High School, and then St. Louis University, averaged 14.1 points in a 13 year NBA career. His dearest friend is Justin Tatum, his old CBC teammate. St. Louisans of a certain age remember their aura inside those seemingly steamy gyms, two rock stars performing to packed houses of kids in North Face jackets and white college hats.
“We’re definitely joined at the hip,” Hughes said.
Well, a year after high school, Tatum had a son. Hughes became godfather. And now what symmetry! the great star of a previous generation mentors the budding prodigy of the next.
“I really know him more on a personal level, than just basketball,” said Jayson, the 6 8 senior who will play next season at Duke. “He tells me the things to look forward to as this journey goes on, if I do make it to the NBA one day. Just the things to look out for to make me a better basketball player on and off the court.”
On Wednesday afternoon, inside Chaminade’s gym, the pitched roof above is wooden and rustic, like an old barn. Eighteen rectangle windows unspool across the two longer walls on the north wall, you can see the tree branches crawling across, like they do in New Orleans above St. Charles Avenue. The scoreboard looks like the scoreboard from your high school (really, regardless of your age). One person here refers to the gym as “old,” in a negative way, but I disagree I think the old gym here is halcyon, a fitting forum to stir hardwood memories.
And so, there he is. Justin Tatum’s son, Larry Hughes’ godson, on display in the old gym where his mentors came to play, and where David Lee and Bradley Beal perfected their craft.
Let this sink in yes, every year you read about basketball stars in St. Louis, but this year, we have the best player in the country. This doesn’t happen here a lot. We need to cherish this and treat ourselves to watching and following Jayson Tatum. He’ll be gone before we know it. His first game will be in this gym, Dec. 1, against McCluer North.
Before practice, he’s wearing a Blue Devils T Shirt and Red Devils shorts. His white tights cover his legs, which look as thick above the knee as below the knee. He chomps on his blue mouth guard, hanging out of his mouth like a toothpick would. The pros do this. Tatum continues this during practice, and he’s the only player to do so.
He shares the story of the weekend in Cleveland, his early birthday present in 2007. His godfather and LeBron are teammates at the time.
“They played the Lakers we went because Kobe’s my favorite player and the Heat,” Tatum said. “So I got to see Kobe, Shaq with the Heat, D Wade. I got to go back near the locker room, and when they walked out, I got to take a picture with those guys. Meeting Kobe, it was of the greatest feelings ever. Every since I started playing basketball, I wanted to be just like Kobe. To get to see him play in person, and to meet him, was just a dream come true.”
There wasn’t a lone moment, necessarily, when the godfather realized his godson would join the family business. Hughes described Jayson as a quieter but taller kid. He remembered Jayson didn’t always like to tackle in pickup football games, instead trying to just push players to the ground. The kid kept growing. He’d go to summer basketball camps, including one run by James.
“When we started to get consistent messages that he was putting in work, that he was one of the top people at the tournament or the camp, then you kind of knew that he was on to something,” Larry Legend said. “I’m definitely proud of him for (competing), and obviously keeping his head straight a lot of attention has come his way, but he’s still on the straight path.”
Hughes is 36. He’s retired and runs D1 Basketball STL United, which he described as a skills development that also develops character in young athletes.
And for those pining for just one more crossover move, he’ll play in a charity game in St. Louis, along with other retired NBA players, on Jan. 29 at Chaifetz Arena. It sounds like a cool event, which will raise money for cancer research and numerous St. Louis charities.