Tate: It Felt Right

Jaylon Tate goes in-depth about his decision to commit to Illinois and what his next objectives are.

It's been over a year since Jaylon Tate had been on the Illinois campus. The last time he was at Illinois, he was given the opportunity to commit, but at the time, he wasn't ready yet. Now over a year later, Tate sat in the same office with the same opportunity, and this time, he knew what he wanted.

"It was a good visit," he said. "It's been since the end of my sophomore year since I've visited. The time was right. I got a good vibe from the coaches and all the assistants. The system they have is a good fit for me. It felt right with my family so I made the decision."

One person in particular who was in Tate's corner, especially over the last month, was high school teammate, AAU teammate, and Illinois commit Kendrick Nunn.

"Ever since he committed, actually even before he committed, he said he wanted to play with me," Tate said. "We have good chemistry on and off the court, so he told coach Groce he wanted me too. I liked what I saw and so we'll join each other in college too."

Having someone he has already spent so much time with and built a strong relationship with is going to make the transition to college much easier for the duo.

"It's going to help a lot," he said. "The transition will be smoother. We can work together and we'll make each other work even harder. With school and the college lifestyle, it'll help out a lot."

That, and the fact that Simeon plays a very similar style of ball to Coach Groce's uptempo game should both help Tate acclimate to Illinois.

"With the team we have at Simeon this year, we'll be uptempo," he said. "Everyone can handle the ball. We just get out and go and that's the way Coach Groce likes to play. Coach puts the ball in their hands and lets them run the show."

As mentioned before, on Tate's last visit over a year ago, he was posed with the same question of committing to Illinois. At that time, the fit wasn't right, but this time, he didn't hesitate at all to make the call.

"Back then I was younger and wasn't really ready to commit," Tate said. "I didn't feel like I fit into the style back then. But with Coach Groce, I love the style and the tempo, and I feel confident that I'll fit in and make an impact."

Tate should have a good chance to see a lot of action early in his career. With Tracy Abrams the only returning lead guard for the team, Tate will likely be relied upon a lot early in his career to take on a heavy load of the ball-handling duties.

"It's a real good chance I see early PT," he said. "The opportunity is there. I just need to work every day and play. The way coach runs his system, he likes to play multiple ball handlers at the same time."

Just like Kendrick Nunn went after Tate, now Tate and his teammate turn their attention to a potential fifth member of the 2013 class at Illinois as well as an up-and-coming sophomore at Simeon in D.J. Williams.

"It's still kind of early with DJ," he said, "but we're going to work on him and try and get him to join us. We're going to try to work on Austin Colbert too. We could really use him in the future."

Simeon has been the elite program in the Chicago area for the last few years, and this year they will chase a fourth-consecutive state title, a feat only accomplished one other time by Peoria Manual. With so much at stake, Tate and his Simeon teammates have to handle their attitudes and focus the right way.

"We just have to work and play hungry," Tate said. "We have to play like we have a big target on our back and deal with everyone's A-game. We have to be like the underdog and play hard every day. I think our toughest opponent is ourselves. We have to go play our game and play tough defense every night."

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