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. 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."
Tatum described CBC as being "structured for winning." Watch part of our interview with him here to find out what he felt was missing from the program and what it will take to put it "on the map."
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.
"Those kids have 'D1' potential but you know I feel they don’t have 'D1' work ethic, and that’s something I feel I can bring to them and show how to get to that level," Tatum said. He's texted some of the members of his new team, and hopes to hold a team meeting next week.
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.
As soon as the CBC job was open, speculation ran wide that if Justin Tatum got the position, Jayson would come with him. But Thursday, Dad told Patch that son was staying put.
"Jayon's attending Chaminade. He's going to stay there," Tatum said.
"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."
At the end of the interview, a former Tatum teammate walked into the room, former SLU and NBA guard Larry Hughes. Hughes said this experience for Tatum has felt like it happened to him.
"He's seen a lot so he can translate that to the kids," Hughes said. Tatum added that Hughes and others from that 1997 era will be around the program. A coaching staff, which will include some holdovers from the previous, has not been finalized.