Jae'sean Tate is no stranger to Michigan. The versatile prospect was one of the stars at John Beilein’s Elite camp two summers ago. Since then all he has done is help propel Pickerington Central to a state championship, and piquing the Wolverines’ interest even more in the process.
“Our freshman year I thought we did pretty good and we started off our sophomore year pretty strong,” said Tate. “I knew we were going to be a strong team. It wasn’t until maybe the second round (of the playoffs) that I really felt like yeah we can really do this. We got there and our team just worked hard in practice every day. We got out there and we wanted it. It took me a while for it to really to hit me… we won states. Then Caris went up there (to Michigan). I talk to him almost every week and he basically keeps me updated on how things are going and how they’re treating him.”
“I know that the coaches (at Michigan) are really good people. Every time I talk I talk to them they keep it real with me. They’re not trying to make it seem better than it is. They just tell me what I need to do. On the player side, Caris just tells me he loves it up there. He loves the coaches and he loves the team. Taco was up there and the basketball team showed him some love and he is going there for football. It just seems like a great program. It seems like everybody is close up there and that’s really big.”
Such ringing endorsements have gone a long way toward increasing Tate’s comfort level with the Maize & Blue. So much so that he is anxious to make a return trip to Ann Arbor in the fall.
“I actually talked to one of the coaches (Wednesday),” reported Tate. “They talked to me about how they’re not going to do like most schools. They’re not just going to offer me over the phone. They want me to come down, go to a couple of football games, get to know the coaches on a personal level, and just get a feel for Michigan. They would like me to come down there before they give out any scholarship. I’m supposed to come to the first (football) game. I think they play Air Force September 8th.”
One of the topics that will surely be discussed is what position he’d play. At 6-5 200-lbs., Tate has been called everything from a power-guard to an undersized, but athletic power-forward. Meanwhile the talented youngster labels himself another way… as a ball-player.
“Right now a lot of schools are recruiting me to be a one, two, three, four type guy at the college level,” said Tate. “If I don’t grow, obviously I’m going to be a two or a three. But positions really don’t matter to me. I’m just getting out there and playing basketball. I’ll play the five (laughter). As long as I’m on the court it doesn’t matter.”
The Wolverines are no strangers to fitting “ball-players” into unconventional roles and finding success. They did that for four years with Zack Novak. The accomplishments of their former captain could wind up being a feather Michigan’s cap.
“The biggest factors are going to be with the coaches how is our relationship outside of basketball, in recruiting did he show me love, and guys in the past that played before me that have sort of what my game can bring to the table,” Tate explained, “Then I’d see if I can fit into that program. Some schools could have great programs, but they only use certain types of players.”
As a lifelong Buckeye fan at it appeared inevitable that Tate would see Michigan as anything but a great program. The fact that the Wolverines haven’t yet joined Ohio State, Iowa, Purdue, Xavier, Dayton, and West Virginia in offering a scholarship seemed to further that notion. The truth of the matter is nothing could be further from the truth.
“I’m open to Michigan… to all of the possibilities,” said Tate. “I’m just trying to find the place where I fit in the most. I don’t want to get there and bump heads with coaches. I don’t want to get there and the communication isn’t there. I’m just trying to find a place where I can get better and win games, so most definitely Michigan is up there.
“(Ohio State) is in the top three, most definitely. Michigan is up there, and those are my top two. Three is really maybe Purdue or Iowa. Iowa gives me a lot of love. They call me all of the time. I can’t tell you what the top school. I can only give you a list of the schools I like. I don’t have a #1.”
And as for when he’ll figure out which if his suitors is #1, Tate isn’t in any rush.
“I really don’t have a timeline,” he said. “I want to visit more schools and get the feel for them. I don’t want to just visit two schools and commit right there because there are schools I haven’t even seen and I could be a better fit there. So I’m just trying to get a better feel for everyone first.”