Billiken fan or not, the story of how the former coach of the Saint Louis University basketball team lost the commitment of the top recruit in the nation, Jayson Tatum, will hurt your soul.
A little of background on this: I’m a current Billiken, and covered the Jayson Tatum recruiting saga very closely when I wrote for ArchAuthority.com (big time plug for giving me my first blogging gig). There were plenty of nuances that the general public didn’t know. Tatum’s father played at SLU, as did Jayson’s godfather, lottery pick, and NBA vet Larry Hughes (whose commitment was rumored to be partially because Hughes’s brother needed to jump to the top of the heart transplant list at SLU Hospital). Tatum was here for almost every game, and spent time at frat parties around campus some weekends. Like, he was a part of this life.
SLU dipped off severely in basketeball after Jordair Jett and co. left, and plus this isn’t where high level recruits come anyways. So the #1 recruit in the nation even speaking our name? Yeah, it’s a big deal. The entire time, I was maybe 1 of 10 people in the country thinking that SLU had a legit shot at Tatum. Hard to beat out Coach K, but every single person who’s met Tatum says the kid loves his city and where he’s from.
Alright, so the story on why he didn’t come here. A HUMONGOUS I TOLD YOU SO TO EVERYONE THAT SAID I WAS CRAZY ABOUT HIM COMING HERE. I first heard this through the normal pipeline of rumors, but then had a run-in with a member of the someone from last year’s SLU roster. An acquaintance of mine square out asked the SLU player about the story I was told. That Jayson Tatum, the #1 (or 2 depending on the site) recruit said flat out to Coach Jim Crews: “Give my starting point guard a scholarship offer, and I’ll commit to SLU”. And Crews said “Nah, I’m good”. To that story, the player I talked with said with 99% confidence that’s what went down. He confirmed that the conversation amongst the team was that Tatum said he’d commit under that one condition, but Crews refused.
I don’t care who the point guard is. He could be air bud. He could be Casper the Ghost. He could be Paul Lamb (I’ve got an up and under like no other though, don’t tweak). Fans of any college basketball team would say that if the top recruit in the nation say “If *blank*, then I’ll come here”, you do whatever the *blank* is, WHATEVER. IT. IS. If he wants you to do some things you’re uncomfortable with, then close your eyes and take one for the team.