In another timeline, we may have seen Jayson Tatum play with guys like Marvin Bagley and Wendell Carter Jr. in college.
Tatum had a very successful one-and-done year at Duke. He averaged 16.8 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 2.1 assists per game, and added over one full block and steal as well.
He definitely looked the part, but there definitely seemed to be another level he could reach. That was clear to the Boston Celtics, who took him No. 3 overall. Per reports, general manager Danny Ainge had Tatum atop his draft board, but traded the top pick to the Philadelphia 76ers, believing he’d still be able to land the Duke wing a few picks later. He was right; Philly took Markelle Fultz and the Los Angeles Lakers went with Lonzo Ball, before Tatum went off the board.
Yesterday, Jayson Tatum did a Twitter Q&A, answering questions from fans. There were plenty of interesting nuggets, but one question about his Duke departure was probably the most interesting. User @SharksNSports asked about the idea of Tatum playing a full four years of college ball like stars did back in the 1980s. Tatum said that he “couldn’t have imagined staying four years,” but that he considered coming back for a sophomore run under Mike Krzyzewski.
Couldn’t have imagined staying 4 years… but I really thought about going back for my sophomore of college
— Jayson Tatum (@jaytatum0) March 26, 2020
Tatum was one of four Blue Devils drafted in 2017. Guard Luke Kennard went No. 12 to the Detroit Pistons, followed by Harry Giles (No. 20, Sacramento Kings), and Frank Jackson (No. 31, New Orleans Pelicans).
Tatum’s team was a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament, and got stunned by No. 7 South Carolina, which made a shocking run to the Final Four. The team the following year nearly made the Final Four itself, falling to No. 1 Kansas 85-81 in overtime of the Elite Eight.
Adding Tatum’s outside shooting and general offensive firepower, and that team might’ve been hard to stop, though the Villanova team that made it to the title was a force. That would’ve been some game.