Skull Session: Jae'Sean Tate is Absurdly Versatile, Tony Skinn Broke James Hardens Ankles, and the Buckeyes Won in the Classroom

By Kevin Harrish on May 21, 2021 at 4:59 am
We've got a helmet in today's skull session.

It's looking like the Big House will be full this year.

... until halftime of The Game.

Word of the Day: Atavism.

 MY COACH CAN CROSS UP YOUR COACH. You'd be forgiven if you didn't know much about new Ohio State hoops assistant Tony Skinn before yesterday, but I bet James Harden remembers.

The former MVP might still be recovering emotionally from what Skinn did to him at the 2012 Olympics.

If you look close enough, you can see the exact moment Harden decided to give up even attempting to play defense ever again.

I'm sold on this addition if for no other reason than that it helps Ohio State's chances in a hypothetical three-on-three hoops showdown between all the Big Ten coaching staff.

 MR. EVERYTHING. Jae'Sean Tate is not going to be named Rookie of the Year. He wasn't even named one of the three finalists. But that doesn't necessarily mean he wasn't deserving.

He may not be putting up the points you'd expect out of a rising star, but he more than makes up for it in versatility. Because the guy can do absolutely everything.

... Silas has leaned on Tate’s malleability all season long, entrusting him to switch at a high level and defend multiple positions. Tate grades in the 97th percentile of all NBA players in terms of versatility defending all positions from point guard to center, according to the league’s matchup data. This bodes well for his NBA future, especially when you juxtapose his versatility with other switchable, notable defenders around the league — OG Anunoby, Ben Simmons and Jimmy Butler to name a few.

To be in that sort of company as a rookie is impressive. Factor in the durability (70 games played) and the offensive production (a modest-but-not-empty 11.3 points, 5.3 rebounds, 2.5 assists), and his season looks even better. Defensive impact isn’t discussed nearly enough as its offensive counterpart, an area Tate’s fellow rookies have done well in. It won’t make him Rookie of the Year. But Tate’s not one to obsess over awards, especially considering the journey he took to even get here.


That’s especially relevant given how injuries forced Tate to do multiple things at different points in the year. At different points, he was a power forward, small forward and a small-ball center. As a roll man, he was excellent, scoring 1.3 points per possession, good for the 84th percentile league-wide. But the losses of players like John Wall, Eric Gordon and even Kevin Porter Jr, Tate found himself thrust into a playmaking role. There were times late in the season when Tate was the only “true playmaker” on the floor, a role he was still growing into.

In December, Tate averaged 1.7 assists per game. By the time April and May rolled around, he had doubled that (4.1). Silas had Tate coming off double drags, attacking downhill and other quick-hitting sets to let him function as the decision-maker for his teammates.

“I’ve been grateful enough to be able to play different positions throughout this year,” Tate said. “And for them to give me that freedom to play point guard — I played a little bit a point guard (in the past) but to actually start at the one certain games and be the floor general where I got other younger players telling me to lead us out there — that was a big eye-opener for me because I’ve never been in a position like that. So getting confidence from that, and of course, it’s not always going to be like that because we’re missing half the roster, but just that opportunity alone to start at point guard in an NBA game — not a lot of people can say that.”

Watching him play is wild. He doesn't look like your typical star player, and that's because he's really not. He's more like a role player that just plays every role well and absolutely as hard as he can, so you can't really take him off the floor.

I don't know if he'll ever be an all-star or ever get any sort of legitimate recognition, but I do know he's going to be in the league for a long time doing something.

 GPA TO THE MOON! A global pandemic could not have been easy to navigate as a student-athlete, given that it wasn't a walk in the park for me, either, and all I had to do was post words online every day.

But just like the Buckeyes were up to the challenge on the gridiron, they killed it in the (virtual) classroom, too.

Big ups to the folks keeping a GPA above a 3.0 while working every day to stuff Dabo down a garbage disposal. Mission accomplished on both fronts.

 STRONG PIPELINE. In a world where lots of folks are talking about broken pipelines, I'll tell you one that seems to be working just fine – estranged Ohio State hoopsters heading to Arizona State.

For those keeping score at home, that's now three former Buckeyes who've ended up with the Sun Devils. Mickey Mitchell started the trend a few years ago, and now Gaffney joins Luther Muhammad, who transferred to Arizona State last year.

 SONG OF THE DAY. "Be My Escape" by Relient K.

 NOT STICKING TO SPORTS. A teen in Spain built an underground den after a fight with his parents... The case for deleting everything... The real reason why American parents hate each other... Inside the military's secret undercover army... A mom dies during a memorial motorcycle ride for her son who was killed in a motorcycle crash... 

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