Jae’Sean Tate has heard it all when coaches or recruiting analysts try to define his game.
No matter what position they say the 6-5 Pickerington (OH) Central standout plays, or projects out at, he will continue to do what he’s always done.
It’s what allowed him to secure a spot on the Ohio State Buckeyes and put on dominating performances like he did Friday and Saturday at the NY2LA Sports Swish ‘N Dish with his club team All Ohio Red.
“They used to have me as an undersized forward,” Tate said. “But I’ve been working this year really on my dribbling, and shooting off the dribble. When I’m on the court, there’s really no position. Basketball is basketball. I’m just out there playing hard. The ratings really don’t matter to me. Out there I’m just trying to get the win. I hate losing. I give 100 percent every time.”
The lefty was an integral part of a state championship as a sophomore, averaged 21.9 points per game to go along with 12 rebounds during his junior campaign and sits at 1,137 points scored in his high school career. Tate displayed his usual tenacity on the offensive and defensive glass all weekend, and disrupted opposing offenses with his activity on defense and in passing lanes.
If he has a smaller defender on him, he will beast him in the post thanks to his powerful build. If it’s a bigger guy checking him, he’ll use his speed and athleticism to gain an advantage.
But he’s started to show off his continually developing ability to put the ball on the deck and knife his way through defenses getting to the rack for thunderous dunks or set up teammates for open looks with drop-offs or kick-outs.
“At a young age I always was able to see the floor well,” Tate said. “But now I’m trying to get away from always being down on the box to get ready for the next level. This was our first tournament, and we’re a young team, so we still have to gel. Everyone on the team is used to playing every minute on their high school team, but I think we’ll put it together.”
All Ohio Red advanced to the quarterfinals of the loaded 17’s division at Swish ‘N Dish before falling 74-62 to the Illinois Wolves. Despite scoring a game-high 17 points, perhaps no play Tate made was more indicative of the type of player he is than one that came with under two minutes left and the Wolves in command.
Wolves guard AJ Riley coasted toward the rim all alone after an All Ohio Red turnover. But by the time he began to gather himself to lay the ball in the hole to add onto a 10-point lead, Tate was already airborne and horizontal to the floor closing in from behind Riley like a starved predator within a nose-hair of its prey.
He stripped the ball cleanly out of bounds, allowing his team’s defense to get set after the restart, and kept the small window for his team open. But the Wolves proved to be too much for All Ohio and OSU-bound wing Keita Bates-Diop (16 points) was a primary reason why.
Bates-Diop is 6-7 with a long wingspan that enables him to be a great shot-blocker and rebound for his position. Much like Tate, Bates-Diop has improved his perimeter skills and the duo provides a great foundation for OSU’s 2014 recruiting class.
“He was unstoppable,” Tate said of his future teammate in Columbus. “Now I know. That’s the first time I’ve ever seen him play. He’s not a selfish player, and I think we can have real good team when we get there.
“It’s like a family. My dad (Jermaine Tate) and high school coach (Jerry Francis) played there. I really liked Michigan too, but it was something about Coach (Thad) Matta. Like, I felt like I connected with everything he was saying. I can’t wait to play there.”
Whether Coach Matta has Tate listed as a guard or a forward remains to be seen, but it’s likely that as long as Tate is on the court he will continue to produce and give the rest of the Big Ten fits.