At the Bill Hensley Memorial Run ‘n Slam, 2014 prospect Jae’Sean Tate did a little bit of everything for his All-Ohio Red team. The Pickerington Central wing has spent most of his life playing in the post, but at 6-foot-5 and 205 pounds Tate needed to show all in attendance that his game has expanded to the perimeter. Though he is a skilled, strong post player, his height puts him in danger of being labeled a “tweener.”
Tate is fully aware that he has two choices: wait to grow, or develop his perimeter game to the point where he can become a legitimate wing prospect.
“I’m an undersized big man. I’m working on my perimeter game,” Tate said. “I can shoot midrange. Either I hope to grow, or I just keep working on my guard game.”
Tate is clearly the go-to scorer on a team that is stocked with solid talent. He can usually get what he wants in the post despite his lack of height by using his large frame to clear out space in the paint as well as his ability to seal off his defender when establishing position. Once he gets the ball, Tate has a litany of strong, quick post moves he can use to get to the rim.
But college coaches have to consider not just what a player shows them on the court but also how their game translates to the college game. Although Tate is a strong player who can play big in the paint, coaches may still have doubts about his ability to produce at the next level.
But All-Ohio Red coach Benji Burke, father of Michigan sophomore point guard Trey Burke, sees a strength where others see a weakness.
“I think the strengths are exactly what people are concerned about,” Burke said. “He’s a matchup problem. They don’t know what position he is. So we look at it as, he’s too big for your guards, or he’s too fast for your forwards. We love that.”
It’s true that over the weekend it was nearly impossible to stop Tate with just one player. He faced a myriad of zone looks and double-teams. But thanks to his new focus on his perimeter game, when the post got too crowded, Tate was able to take the ball outside the paint and look for his midrange shot.
After one game in which the opposing team focused especially on packing the post, Tate knew he had to change some things up.
“They had really good inside defense. It was really hard to get through lanes,” he said. “I was just trying to shoot midrange and go left.”
With the expansion of Tate’s outside game has come attention from more high-major schools. Mid-majors such as Akron, Kent State, and Detroit have been showing interest, but now Tate is getting calls from Michigan, Purdue, and Iowa. He mentioned that Iowa has been calling him a lot lately.
Bacari Alexander has taken a keen interest in the Ohio native and Michigan is a school that intrigues Tate. Not only does Tate play for Trey Burke’s father with All-Ohio Red, he attends school with Michigan football commitment Taco Charlton as well as potential-future Wolverine, Caris LeVert.
At this point, Tate has two things in mind that he’s looking for in a college choice.
“Good coaches who will teach me things I need to work on, like my shooting,” he said. “And a place where I can have fun.”
Wherever he goes, Tate knows that he will likely be a wing if he doesn’t grow significantly in the next couple of years. He’s doing all he can to make sure he’s ready to lay the position. Burke said Tate has hired a trainer and is working on his ballhandling.
“Let’s just say he is going to be a wing,” Burke said. “He wants to be able to go off the dribble and be able to create his own shots of the dribble.”