There’s a scouting report on Jae’Sean Tate, and it should come in bold letters. The Ohio State junior forward is not a great shooter, he’s undersized in the post and he’s probably going to go to the basket strong with his left hand.
Yet, when Tate beat Maryland’s Ivan Bender — who is 5 inches taller — to the right block, collected a pass and slid under the basket to finish with his left hand during Saturday’s loss at Maryland, he showed the type of basket that has typified his career.
It also put him into elite territory at Ohio State. His layup made him the 54th Buckeye to reach 1,000 career points, and there’s been nothing fancy about how Tate arrived there.
“From the time he got here, he produces,” coach Thad Matta said. “He produces in points, he produces in rebounds, he produces in defensive stops. He’s got a real good knack for doing the right things on the basketball court. I think it just tells you he’s a solid, all-around basketball player.”
So much of that comes from his dominant left hand near the basket. Of OSU’s 25 1,000-point scorers to have attempted at least 10 three-pointers, Tate’s 26.1 shooting percentage behind the arc is the lowest, well behind Jerry Francis’ mark of 35.8 percent.
In other words, Tate doesn’t do damage by raining down jumpers on his opponents. At just 6-foot-4, the Pickerington Central product has to fight near the basket and come up with contested points, something he has done better than ever this year.
Entering tonight’s game at Michigan State, Tate has scored in double figures in 12 straight games and in all but two games this season while averaging a career-best and team-high 14.3 points.
Tate has brought heart and energy to the court in seasons when that hasn’t been abundant.
“If everybody at Ohio State played with the same sense of team, toughness and enthusiasm that Jae’Sean Tate plays with … Ohio State would be five games better,” ESPN college basketball analyst Dan Dakich said. “How good he is, (if) everybody would play like that … Ohio State would be right there in terms of top 3-4 in the Big Ten, in terms of an NCAA berth, and everybody would be a whole hell of a lot happier.”
Tate doesn’t do everything left-handed. He drives with his right hand, predominantly dribbles with his right and said he “really can’t dunk with my left (hand) at all.”
But when he gets the ball with a defender on his backside, he’s almost certainly going to attack with his left hand.
“For a guy to just sit completely on a Division I basketball player’s hand, it’s just hard,” Tate said. “I don’t use my right hand a lot, but I am capable. If I get 2 inches from the basket, I’ll throw it up, maybe it’ll go in.”
Tate also credits his footwork for his success, something 7-foot center Trevor Thompson said he’s admired and tried to emulate.
“I’ve definitely taken a lot of JT’s game apart and put little bits (in mine),” Thompson said. “JT’s got some of the best footwork for a post player in general that I’ve seen.”