Josh Tatum remembers well a phrase his hero, former Dallas Mavericks guard Jason Terry, said to him.
“Keep marching on and off the court. God bless,” Terry told him during a camp a few years ago.
“He was there every day at his camp, which I thought was very impressive,” Tatum said. “I got to play with him; it was fantastic.”
Tatum, in fact, was named MVP of that camp. He even named his Twitter handle @JetTatum.
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That was a year before the Mavericks and Terry won the NBA championship. Tatum smiles and says he knew there was something special ahead for Terry – just like he thinks there is something special in his own future.
Tatum, a freshman point guard for the Weatherford College Coyotes, said he works hard daily to heed his hero’s advice. WC Coach Mark Osina said he’s the epitome of the type of player he looks to recruit.
“He’s about as clean a kid as you’re going to get,” Osina said. “And every time I hear a ball bounce in the gym, I know it’s him.
“Some of our guys will come up here as early as 6 in the morning, and he’s always with them.”
Tatum, a Northwest High School product, came to Weatherford understanding the Coyotes returned a slew of talent from last season. He could have gone elsewhere where they had fewer returnees, but he wanted to be in a program that focuses on winning and character, much like the one in which he played under Coach Mike Hatch in high school.
“Josh had a real good high school coach,” Osina said.
Tatum said it’s important to help build the program back up.
“It’s a cool thing to have on your resume and I just believe in Coach Osina,” he said. “I’m proud to be a part of what he’s doing here.”
As for playing amongst the sophomores, Tatum said “it pushes me in practice to always give my best and never, ever let up.”
“I like playing with guys who have experience and have been here,” he said. “I can always learn from them.”
Tatum definitely wants to play at a four-year NCAA Division I school. His dream is to be in March Madness. But to get there, he felt he needed to hone his skills at the two-year college level.
“I think I made a good decision,” he said. “Here, I can showcase what I can do, and this is a tough conference, so if I can succeed here it will look good.”
Thinking things through and making solid decisions is a family trait for the Tatums. His older brother Justin is studying to be an engineer at Prairie View A&M, his mother teaches math, his father is a software developer and Josh wants to major in physical therapy.
“I feel like that’s rewarding, to help someone, especially if it’s an athletic injury,” he said. “Of course, I want to play basketball as long as I can.”
When he’s not studying or playing real basketball, he can be found unwinding playing NBA 2K or hanging out at church. But no matter what player he is on his videogame, Terry will always have a special place in his heart.
“When he comes in, he fires up the crowd,” Tatum said. “I saw him later at a tournament. His daughter plays.
“It was cool that he remembered who I was.”