One on one with Number One

Jayson Tatum sits down with TDD to recap his trip to Dubai with Team USA and talk recruiting which includes some early visits, and a building relationship with several coaches.

To start Jayson, how was your trip to Dubai with USA Basketball?

It was a great experience. That’s one of the richest countries in the world and being a part of USA Basketball, that was my second year. The most important part was we got the job done and we won the gold medal, that was the most exciting part of the trip. The hotel we stayed in, it was where all the teams in the tournament stayed, it was like the host hotel and it was in “old” Dubai, but we also got to go to I guess what they called “new” Dubai and see a bunch of expensive cars like Rolls Royce’s, Bentley’s, stuff like that. Then we went to the mall there and they said it takes like two days to get through the entire mall and we also got to go to the world’s tallest building, so we got to experience a few things over there.

As you and the rest of your teammates were experiencing that culture, what were your impressions?

We were just in awe, honestly. I was taking pictures and videos, and stuff like that to remember that once in a lifetime experience. Most guys never get an opportunity to even go out of the country, much less to a place like Dubai, so we were just enjoying each other and having a lot of fun. That was my second time going overseas with basketball, last year I went to Uruguay.

How different was the Dubai experience to what you experienced in Uruguay?

Yeah, Uruguay wasn’t really too much like America at all whereas Dubai was much more like America in different ways. The biggest thing was probably the time difference.

It seems like you guys were able to grow as a team pretty quickly…

We did, and it was a lot of fun. We all built relationships on and off the court. We got to spend a lot of time together for like a month, so we built really good relationships with each other. Harry Giles was my roommate in Colorado and Dubai, and we talked about how much fun it was to share this together but also how we were a little homesick, especially towards the end of the whole trip, we were looking forward to seeing our family, stuff like that.

Was recruiting a topic of conversation during the trip between you and Harry and anybody else, or was it more just focused on the mission at hand?

Yeah sometimes it definitely was. For instance, we talked about which schools are contacting us each the most and who we talk to the most, where we could see each other in college, stuff like that. For me and Harry, it’s a very, very strong possibility that we’re going to play together in college and it’s something that we do talk about a lot.

Were you having a lot of conversations with college coaches while you were in Dubai, or did they give you space while you were there?

Coaches were still contacting us, calling us, texting us, they kept in contact with us like they always do.

Who made an effort to stay in contact with you during that time period?

Mizzou did, Kentucky, Kansas, Duke, North Carolina, Arizona. They were just asking me how things were over there in Dubai and did I like it, how were the games, things like that.

How was the adjustment coming back stateside?

My sleep schedule was a little bit off, and I tended to kinda fall asleep like half way in the afternoons just because in Dubai it was nighttime then. It took me a little while to get used to it.

You mentioned Duke has been in contact, have you heard from Coach K while he’s been overseas with Team USA?

Yeah, I’ve been talking to Coach K a little bit and I’ve been talking with Coach Scheyer a lot, they’ve been telling me that Coach K was going to come see me as soon as he gets back from being out of the country.

How’s the relationship with Coach Scheyer?

It’s grown a lot, I’ve been talking to Coach Scheyer since I was in the ninth grade going into the 10th grade. I have learned a lot about Coach Scheyer including his playing career, a little bit about his childhood and his upbringing, he played at Duke and won a national championship. Our relationship is getting much stronger, at first we talked about basketball, but now we’re more comfortable with each other, so we talk about other things like school, things I like to do on the weekend, things like that.

Same question with Coach K?

Yeah he shoots out a text once or twice a week to both tell me how he’s been doing and also to see how I’m doing. He told me before he left for his trip that he was going to stay in contact with me. He’s been telling me how much fun it is with the team and how the guys are interacting and how they practice and hopefully they win the gold medal. I’ve watched a couple of games, they played pretty well.

In the grand scheme of things for you, was it a big deal that he stayed in contact with you while he was overseas, or was it just another coach staying in contact with you like everybody else?

It’s a pretty big deal that with him being out of the country that he took time to reach out when he could, I don’t hold it against him if I don’t hear from him as much as other coaches because he is out of the country and I know he’s really busy coaching that team.

How are things going on the visit dates setup front?

Yeah, I’m going to try and go and visit some places in October for Midnight Madness. I don’t know exactly where, but I know I’m going to go visit a few of them.

Which schools are you actively considering to potentially visit for their Midnight Madnesses?

Definitely Duke, Kentucky, Arizona, Kansas.

Is it your goal to visit all of those 4, or are there potential date conflicts for any of them?

I think I’m trying to get to all of them, I need to see if there are any potential conflicts with the date, I don’t know that yet.

If there are date conflicts with any of those four events, are any of them more a priority for you than the others to go and visit?

No, I don’t have any favorites to visit right now. I’m probably also going to visit Mizzou again soon as well. I go down there often, I’ll probably go to a football game there. With Duke, I’ll probably go look at North Carolina and Wake Forest while I’m down there too.

Do you go into upcoming visits just to have a fun time, or do you go in with the intention of having some serious conversations with the coaching staffs and figure some things out?

A little bit of both, I definitely want to have fun and experience the college atmosphere, but I also definitely want to talk with the college coaches and see what their plans are for me if I were to go there.

Does the number of official visits impact you from an information gathering standpoint? How does it reflect when you starting thinking about officials?

You know I’ll definitely take some official visits. I may take some official visits to some schools that I haven’t unofficially visited yet. If I don’t take a visit to Arizona for their Midnight Madness when I take an official there, then that will be my first time experiencing things there.

It seems like your approach is to value the official visits in order to see the different options.

If I haven’t visited and they are still on my list unofficially, then I would definitely visit them. Other schools that I have been to, I still may go for an official, it just depends.

Based on the schools you haven’t visited yet, are there any schools in your mind that it’s critical for you to visit before the conclusion of your process?

Really just the ones I haven’t been to yet. I haven’t been to Connecticut, Duke, North Carolina, Wake Forest or Arizona. I’ve been to all the other schools recruiting me, but I haven’t been to those schools yet. I hope to visit all of those schools.

Turning back to your contact with coaches, you were quoted as saying that Duke is the most active school in your recruitment in terms of contact. Does that increased contact factor into your evaluation of them?

It definitely affects me a lot because I feel like they make me a priority, but the media makes it seem like they are the only school I’m talking to a lot when it’s not. I definitely talk to other schools every day, or every other day. But I do stay in contact with Duke a lot, but they definitely aren’t the only school that I stay in regular contact with. All the coaches are doing a really good job.

Following up on the discussions you and Harry had in Dubai, how do you guys compare the information with one another?

The thing we discuss is what schools want us to come to school together and are recruiting us that way. Mostly the East Coast schools like Duke, North Carolina and Wake Forest talk with Harry and I both about how they are recruiting the both of us. We definitely tell schools that me and Harry aren’t definitely going to the same school at this point, so we’ll tell schools that you shouldn’t back off me or Harry if you haven’t offered either of us. We might go to the same school or we might go our separate ways.

With Harry and I, it’s still the same feeling, we talk, him and I, we have the same understanding. Some of these schools we like that haven’t offered him, or haven’t offered me but there are some schools that we both do like that have offered him and have offered me.

For you—are there any schools recruiting you that haven’t offered you that you are hoping to receive an offer from?

All of the schools in my Final 10 have offered me but with Harry, it’s most of them have offered him. I know Saint Louis hasn’t offered him, I think Mizzou has, but they aren’t recruiting him as much and I don’t think Arizona has offered either.

How does Arizona having potentially not offered Harry affect you in your consideration of them since they have offered you?

It does a little bit, but if Arizona is the best fit for me with a school and if they haven’t offered Harry, then I have to figure out and so does Harry what the best school is for me and for him and I’d have to weigh all my options.

Since we’re talking about the possibility, have you two coordinated visit dates at this point?

Yeah, me and Harry are definitely planning to do some visits together, we’re just not sure where or when yet, but we definitely are going to visit schools together.

What’s going into your deliberations as you figure out what’s best for you as you evaluate schools?

Where I feel like I have the best relationship with the coaching staff and somewhere where I can go and have a big impact right away, play as a freshman and make it to the next level—somewhere where a coach can push me.

How much did you pay attention over the past few seasons to schools recruiting you and guys they had at your position?

Yeah I definitely did that. Duke with Jabari Parker, Arizona they had Aaron Gordon and also Jason Terry back in the day, those schools did a great job with guys. Saint Louis University, they had Larry Hughes back in the day, guys like that.

What did you like from what you saw those schools did with their guys you just mentioned?

How they let their guys play and how they structured their offense. Like I said with Aaron Gordon, Jabari Parker, they were top 4 picks in the draft and that’s somewhere that I’d like to get to.

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