- Michael Rothstein, ESPN Staff Writer
FORT WAYNE, Ind. -- He is a player without a true position, a guy who is planning on using the summer to smooth out and figure out his game.
Jae’Sean Tate (Pickerington, Ohio/Pickerington Central) has a ton of talent, is an explosive scorer and has a great knack for rebounding and jumping at the right time. He is, however, in a bit of a predicament right now.
Tate is the classic tweener. At 6-foot-4, the No. 54 player in the Class of 2014 ESPN Super 60 has good size for a guard but is undersized as a forward. That problem has led to both his high school and summer basketball coaches working with Tate on his guard skills over the summer.
If he grows 2 inches, he’ll be fine as a bigger wing. If he doesn’t, he needs to have better guard skills to interest even more high-major programs.
“I want to turn him more into a wing, a 3, and I think that will help him in regards to the recruiting process,” said Jerome Francis, his high school coach. “I don’t want to hold him down to the front line because in high school he can play all five spots depending on the skill level.
“For him going into college, he’s got to play on the perimeter, getting through screens, closing out on shooters, how to read screens defensively. It’s kind of a maturation and I don’t ever want to lose his intensity on the boards, never want to take that away.”
The transition is something Tate recognizes as well. He described himself as an undersized power forward but by next season would like to be categorized as a wing.
To do that, he is going to work on ball skills and shooting.
“He does so much well, you want him on the floor,” said his summer basketball coach, Benji Burke. “But a lot of people point out what his position is as an issue where we just look at there’s no matchup for him. He’s either too big or too fast or too strong.
“It’s a good problem to have, for me, anyway.”
Most of the Mid-American Conference has shown interest in Tate, Burke said, as have some high-major schools, including Michigan and Iowa.
Michigan is a place where Tate already has ties. Burke is the father of Michigan point guard Trey Burke. His high school, Pickerington Central, is sending a basketball player to the Wolverines in 2012, Caris LeVert, and a football player in 2013, Taco Charlton. Tate is also an intriguing prospect because he might be looked at for football, too, where he plays outside linebacker.
“I’m just looking for a place where I can fit in,” Tate said. “Where I can play a lot.”
Fitting in is kind of the mantra of his summer and why he is planning on becoming more of a wing, where his current size fits better than down on the block.