During the next few weeks, Illini Inquirer basketball analyst Sean Harrington will give a scouting report on each Illinois basketball returner. His first two reports focused on the Illini's two returning leading scorers, juniors Malcolm Hill and Kendrick Nunn.
Jaylon Tate Scouting Report
Last Season in Review
Jaylon Tate had a solid sophomore year (3.2 ppg, 2.9 apg) for the Illini. He didn’t do anything to 'wow' you, but he also doesn’t do much to hurt you. He is a consistent player -- and that is important for a point guard. Tate is a pass first point guard and is always looking to set up his teammates. He has a good feel for John Groce’s system. It is impressive to watch him throw a misdirection pass. He'll move the play to the right and throw back behind him or to the left. It is a simple thing, but not many players make this pass and it is difficult on the defense. Shooting was without question the weakest part of Jaylon’s game (36.8% FG, 1-for-12 from three). He doesn’t have to be a lights-out three point shooter (he is 2-for-35, 5.7% during his career), but being a non-scorer at times allowed the defense to sag off him and really jam things up in the half-court offense.
Shoot, shoot, shoot -- and shoot some more. The good news for Jaylon Tate is shooting is a skill that can be improved with repetition. The bad news for Jaylon is shooting is a skill that thrives on confidence. After his shooting last season, there isn’t much confidence. By putting in the time this summer, Tate can gain some confidence going into the season. But it will be important to have a few good shooting games early in the season to keep that confidence. Getting stronger and having great stamina will help him out as he will be relied on to pick up a lot of the time available due to Tracy Abrams’ injury. Tate cannot do enough ball handling drills this summer. Having the ball on a string and making sure he gets his team a quality possession each time down the court will be important. The point guard must know where everyone on the court is supposed to be at all times and know the playbook inside and out. So watching a lot of film over the summer would benefit him going into the year.
The loss of Tracy Abrams is a huge blow to the team, and Tate will be asked to fill those shoes. It would not be right to expect Tate to be a lights-out shooter, but he needs to be around 40 percent from the floor this year. But he doesn't need to necessarily turn into a sharpshooter from beyond the three-point line. He needs to be relied on to knock down an open shot from 17 feet like Avery Johnson (47% FG and 14% 3FG during his NBA career) used to do for the Spurs. Making sure the team gets a quality possession every time down the floor will be Tate’s responsibility. His 2.04 assist-to-turnover ratio was good, but this season it needs to be more like 3.5 a/t. Leadership will be another area that Jaylon can help this team. He has a very good feel for the system and the game and that will give him confidence to be more vocal on the floor.