A week after being announced as the school's new varsity boys basketball coach, 1997 graduate Justin Tatum sat down with Patch for a one-on-one interview Thursday afternoon.
Tatum was hired to replace Bob McCormack, another CBC graduate who was on the bench for 17 years, including Tatum's team as a senior which won a state title. McCormack's coaching contract was not renewed after the Cadets, with a team featuring three future Division I caliber players, fell in the district championship game to rival De Smet Jesuit after losing to the Spartans a week earlier. Tatum comes to the school from a successful stint at Soldan High School in the PSL, where he was also Athletic Director.
It’s tough," Tatum said of replacing McCormack, who was just announced this week as the new varsity coach at St. Louis Priory in Creve Coeur. McCormack will stay on the CBC faculty. Tatum called McCormack a father figure and mentor. "He’s a legend to me, and to the school and just to the community of St. Louis and it’s going to be tough to replace him but I’m going to do my best."
His challenge will be to work with a roster that includes plenty of returning talent, highlighted by Jordan Barnett, Patrick McCaw and Ray Doby, a trio of highly-recruited talents who have major college coaches like Michigan State's Tom Izzo and Mizzou's Frank Haith and others paying special attention.
One student-athlete with Division I potential that has everyone talking is Tatum's own son, Jayson, who just finished his freshman season at Chaminade. Jayson was co-Metro Catholic Conference Player of the Year and led the Red Devils to a district championship.
. Chaminade Head Coach Kelvin Lee as late as Tuesday wasn't sure what would happen but said he couldn't stand in the way if that's what they wanted. But Thursday, Dad told Patch that son was staying put.
"Jayon's attending Chaminade. He's going to stay there," Tatum said, acknowledging that the speculation will still be out there until classes start in the fall.
"It’s tough for a 15 year old kid to be asked 'are you transferring, don’t leave us type things. He’s just handled it really well to me. We haven’t really talked about him being on the sideline we’re playing against eachother. It’ll be fun when it happens."
Jayson Tatum will spend part of this summer as part of a USA Basketball developmental squad and could end up competing overseas.