On Thursday, SLAM’s 2015-2016 HS diarist Jayson Tatum was named the 2016 Gatorade National Player of the Year. The Duke-bound forward has been killing it all season long and just recently led his school, Chaminade College Prep in St. Louis, to its second ever state championship.
Four-time NBA All-Star Anfernee Hardaway starred in the most recognizable shoe commercials of the 1990s, but “Lil’ Penny” downshifted into a supporting role today as Chaminade College Prep (St. Louis, Mo.) senior forward Jayson Tatum became the headliner. Disguised as a beat writer and sitting amongst local media, Hardaway ambushed an unsuspecting Tatum at a bogus press conference in the school auditorium and handed him the 2015-16 Gatorade National Boys Basketball Player of the Year trophy.
“I think it’s pretty shocking for me to be holding award this right now,” said Tatum, 18, a Duke signee. “To be listed among the guys who’ve won it before, well, I’m honored just to be a finalist, let alone win it. This is right up there with winning a state championship. I was in the audience the day (Chaminade alumnus and Washington Wizards guard) Bradley Beal won this award. This was always a dream of mine.”
The 6-foot-9, 205-pound wing led the Red Devils (27-5) to the Class 5 state championship this past season, averaging 29.5 points, 9.1 rebounds and three assists per game. The state’s three-time Gatorade Boys Basketball Player of the Year, he is also a 2016 American Family Insurance ALL-USA First Team selection. Ranked as the nation’s No. 2 senior recruit in the ESPN 100, Tatum anchored Chaminade’s run to the No. 7 slot in the USA TODAY Super 25 Expert Rankings.