Tenth in a series identifying 14 college basketball players who will have a breakout season–one on each Big Ten team.
In college basketball, it’s rare for the national leaders in rebounding to simply be the tallest players. Most of the time, it comes down to effort. That’s why undersized guys like Andre Roberson always end up near the top of the pack. Jae’Sean Tate is another one of those guys. A tenacious rebounder, Tate spent most of his freshman campaign in the shadow of D’Angelo Russell (as did the rest of the Buckeyes). Now that Russell is headed to the NBA lottery, Tate has the opportunity to really shine.
For a forward who spends most of his time around the basket, Tate is very undersized at 6’4”. But based on his incredible effort and athletic ability, he is not at a disadvantage going up against much taller opponents. Only five players in the conference grabbed a higher percentage of offensive rebounds than Tate’s 10.5. It’s worth mentioning that none of those other players have the versatility to play on the perimeter and in the paint, as Tate does. Tate’s aggressiveness on the glass leads to a lot of easy buckets and helped him shoot 63.1 percent on two-point field goals as a freshman.
Not only is Tate a fantastic rebounder, but he is also a shut-down defender. He has the strength and length to guard the post, as well as the quickness to guard perimeter players. Even while dealing with some of the best players in the Big Ten, Tate posted a defensive rating of 93.9. With a year of experience under his belt, expect Tate to lead the Big Ten in that category.
Tate has a reliable range out to about 16-17 feet, but that distance needs to improve. If Tate can become just a 30 percent shooter from a long distance, it will open up the floor so much, both for him and for the rest of the Buckeyes’ offense. Assuming Tate wants his minutes to go up (he played a little over one-half per game as a freshman), he’ll improve his shooting tremendously and model his game more and more after Charles Barkley.
The best thing about Tate is his constant desire for improvement. He’s never satisfied with where he’s at, always trying to get better and better. He wants to control the glass. He wants to guard the best player on the other team. And above all, Tate wants to win. Ohio State’s roster is set up to help him do just that. Postgraduate stud JaQuan Lyle and four 4-star prospects join the Buckeyes, who should also see marked improvements from the likes of Marc Loving and Keita Bates-Diop. With a more balanced roster than last year’s Russell-led squad, the Buckeyes will be a contender for the Big Ten crown.