Ohio State product Jae’Sean Tate has tested positive for COVID-19 and will miss at least the first game of The Basketball Tournament.
After having spent last season playing in Australia, Tate was training in Houston this month when he started to notice a few symptoms.
"I felt fine, and then I started to get a dry skin rash on my chest," Tate told The Dispatch on Tuesday. "It started to hurt to shower, because my skin was so sensitive. And I lost my smell and my taste, so I decided to get tested."
Tate was tested on the June 13, roughly five days after he had first noticed symptoms. He took another test eight days later, which was roughly two weeks from when he first noticed any symptoms, that also was positive. Once he was outside the two-week window, he took a test required to participate in TBT that also came back positive. So, too, was another one taken just a few days ago, the results of which came back Monday morning.
So as his Big X teammates arrived in Downtown Columbus that day to take another test and begin a quarantine process as part of assimilating into the bubble surrounding this year’s event, which gets underway July 4, Tate wasn’t among them. Players are not permitted to take part in the tournament if they have a positive test.
"I’m going on day 21 now (since my first symptoms)," Tate said. "I feel perfectly fine. I’m getting tested every couple of days. We’ll see. At the end of the day, I’d love to play, but I don’t want to put the safety of everybody in the tournament at risk."
Nobody around Tate has tested positive, he said, and family members and his girlfriend have all taken multiple tests.
Tate is planning to undergo another test Thursday that, should it come back negative, would allow him to play in Big X’s second-round game if it advances out of the opening round.
It’s the latest in a series of bad-luck situations for Tate, a Pickerington Central product who starred for the Buckeyes for four seasons. His relentless style of play, coupled with his listed playing height of 6 feet 4, made him a fan favorite as he finished with 1,512 career points while helping to lead Ohio State back to the NCAA Tournament as a senior during coach Chris Holtmann’s first season in 2017-18.
Tate went undrafted but earned NBA workouts with Utah, Indianapolis, Chicago and Milwaukee, eventually agreeing to play for the Milwaukee Bucks for the summer league. Instead, a broken pinky finger on his right hand the day before the first game kept him sidelined for the duration. He eventually signed a trial contract to play in Belgium, which turned into a full one-year deal with the Antwerp Giants.
He helped the Giants reach the Champions League while averaging 17.3 points, 8.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists and returned to Columbus last summer with growing NBA interest. He was signed to the Denver Nuggets’ summer league roster, but his debut was delayed when an earthquake was felt in Las Vegas, canceling the final game of the night that was to be Tate’s first game. He would eventually play four games for the Nuggets, including two starts, and averaged 7.3 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game while shooting 50.0 percent from the field (12 for 24) and 30.0 percent from three (3 for 10).
It didn’t lead to a deal, but there was renewed hope as he prepared to play in TBT for Big X. The hope was to earn an invite to an NBA training camp on the strength of a strong performance in the tournament, but he wound up pulling out of the 2019 event because Oklahoma City offered him an opportunity.
That didn’t work out, and Tate signed to play for the Sydney Kings in Australia. There, he helped lead the team to the championship series and again had the attention of the NBA. After the postseason, Tate was scheduled to return home and pick from a handful of workout opportunities with NBA teams.
Then the pandemic struck, the NBA season was suspended and again his opportunities vanished. TBT was viewed as a possible spotlight for his talents as the first televised professional basketball event to take place inside the United States since the pandemic began.
It’s also another run of bad luck for Big X, which learned Monday that former Ohio State guard Keyshawn Woods would not be allowed to participate in TBT after testing positive for the virus.