St. Louis hasn’t had a pro basketball team since the Carter Administration, but we have had our share of notable local products excel at the NBA level since. Jayson Tatum is the latest local to ball with the best, but that’s a line that also includes current players Bradley Beal and David Lee, and former NBA steals leader and SLU Billiken Larry Hughes.
The latter member also runs the Larry Hughes Basketball Academy and is in unique shoes to talk hoop during the current Eastern Conference Finals having mentored Tatum and played alongside LeBron James for three seasons in Cleveland.
Hughes recently talked the NBA Playoffs in an exclusive chat with ‘The Fast Lane,’ and also ruminated some on when he first noticed Tatum could become a special player. Hughes also talks playing with and against ‘King James’ and whether head coaches see such a player as help or hindrance.
You can read excerpts of the discussion below, followed by the entire interview’s audio.
On when he first noticed Jayson Tatum had NBA potential:
“His sophomore year…that he had a chance to be special. He was growing like a weed. His skills were there, his footwork was there. You kind of never really know with injuries and the amount of games that they play, but his skillset and his attention to want to want to be a good basketball player was there.”
“It’s special. Being behind the scenes, I know the type of work that he’s put in. I know the sacrifices that he’s made. Obviously, right now this is a huge reward for putting in the work.”
On Tatum gaining an “edge” in his game throughout the years:
“I don’t think he’s gotten into many fights growing up, but at the same time he does have an edge. You can see it when the skirmishes happen. He’s usually right there in the mix of things. That tells you that he’s there for his teammates, he’s participating to win and compete at a high level.”
On whether having an outspoken player like LeBron is a help or problem for head coaches:
“I think it’s a help. Once you’ve proven yourself to compete and participate and to do your homework and play at a high level, the players know. They know the speed of the game. They know when guys are tired. They know which way guys are leaning. So if a coach calls a play, that player may have that inside information and that’s very valuable to his team.”