Duke-bound ESPN No. 2 ranked high school senior Jayson Tatum poured in 40 points to lead Chaminade to the Missouri MSHSAA Class 5 state championship.
For Tatum — who scored 27 points in the first half of the 72-59 win over Kickapoo in Saturday’s final â€“ winning his first state title was his biggest focus this year.
“I’m hungrier than I’ve ever been to get this state title ring,” Tatum blogged in USA Today earlier this month. “This year is different with it being my last. I want to go out on top. I’ve failed three times and I’m hoping to make the fourth one the charm.”
Well, the fourth one was the charm for Tatum who was on cloud nine after finally getting that elusive Missouri championship.
“I’m just so grateful along with all of my teammates,” Tatum told the Springfield News-Leader. “We’re just thankful to make it this far and be able to accomplish what we’ve been wanting to do since we were 14.”
Chaminade head coach Frank Bennett said he was extremely happy for Tatum.
“[Tatum] is special. There’s a reason why he’s our school’s all-time leading scorer and he has all the accolades that he has,” Bennett said. “I couldn’t be any prouder, I really couldn’t.”
Last season, the 6-8 forward averaged 26.5 points and 11.7 rebounds for Chaminade, leading the team to a 24-3 record and the Missouri state Class 5 semifinals.
Tatum had been locked in all year, starting the season like a man on a mission, averaging a whopping 32 points and 10.8 rebounds per game through his first six games.
He also poured in 40 points against No. 5 senior Malik Monk and his Bentonvile (Ark) squad in a 76-57 Chaminade win earlier this season.
At Chaminade, Tatum is the school’s next great superstar, following in the footsteps of alums Bradley Beal (Wizards) and David Lee (Celtics/Mavs).
“He’s every bit as good as [Bradley Beal and David Lee] were,” Gary Lee, David Lee’s father, said of Tatum.