The 2013-14 Season in Review, Part 6: Jaylon Tate's Forgettable Season

Bradley Leeb-USA TODAY Sports

This season was forgettable.

Jaylon Tate played basketball this season. He played the point guard position.  Sometimes he would dribble up the floor towards the left of my TV screen. Other times, he dribbled to the right. These are some things I absolutely remember about Jaylon Tate this season. They number few compared to the things I somewhat remember about Jaylon Tate this season.

I know he shot--jumpers, three pointers, lay-ups, other shots--but I can't place my finger on when. He passed sometimes too. He passed to Austin Colbert on some pick-and-rolls sometime, somewhere, probably State Farm Center, which lead to points and praise about freshmen and youthful composure.

I can picture him, both in action and in words, such as "Jaylon Tate" being listed on a roster or list of Illinois Fighting Illini basketball freshmen. He was definitely there, on the court and on the team, playing basketball. But beyond the basics, I'm grasping for recollections that won't come back. What did he do this season?

A TCR search yields little. Eighteen results since New Year's Day. By my count, only two of those results have Tate mentioned alone, not as a number in the roster of a member of a list of freshman. Two times. One is the Michigan State recap (loss) from January, where I wrote:

Jaylon Tate had a beautiful stutter-spin in the second half.

The other is an #AskTCR from January, where the readers pondered whether he could be redshirted for next season. Mark answered skeptically, but it'd fit nicely with his regression rate to follow this unremembered season with one even more overlooked. For his junior season, he could become a student-manager--all a part of reaching that equilibrium. Jaylon Tate was the hot cup of coffee, now room temperature, about to be dumped down the drain.

This is the view from the outside. Tate's been delegated as the unspoken player in the same rhetorical question. What are we going to do if we don't get a point guard in the Class of 2015? Who will be our point guard of the future? From the inside, the discussions probably look at Tate differently. He might be an answer.

He was the answer, briefly, at first. In the beginning of the season, Illinois needed a hug and a hand to hold after Quentin Snider dumped us, so we held onto Jaylon Tate. Here's the title of a November #AskTCR:

DOES JAYLON TATE HEAL ALL WOUNDS?

Did he heal all wounds? No. He made a name early, then fell back, then drowned in the wishy-washy season. The year sputtered almost immediately after we started to like it and didn't pick up again until it was too late to enjoy it. The whole year will be a lost memory to everyone soon, nothing more than a, "Yeah, that was Groce's second go-round. We weren't too good." Jaylon's lost memory is just ahead of the game.

It's not problematic to forget a freshman season. It's worse to dismiss the kid before he has a chance to prove himself, which is what everyone's done, including myself. He's not a nothing. He's a pass-first possession point guard who spent his freshman year deferring to madmen like Rayvonte Rice and Tracy Abrams. Everyone else on the team did the same, only with less freshman anxiety.

Next season he'll have to make more of a mark, and he'll have to do it with some now-playing transfers in the backcourt with him.


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