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By THE HUSTLE, 01/28/19, 2:15PM EST


Cushing head coach James Cormier isn’t the type to use superlatives or hyperbole when discussing his players. Rather than setting unreasonable expectations that his players can’t reach, he recognizes the value of being honest and typically lays a “here’s the deal but come see for yourself” foundation for player evaluations.

So when I heard the excitement in Cormier’s voice when a recent conversation turned to Daman Tate’s skill development and production this season, I knew it had to be for a good reason. After watching the 6’5” wing explode for 26 points, 8 rebounds and 3 assists in just 16 minutes on Sunday, I can say one thing with complete confidence: There are plenty of reasons to be extremely excited about Daman Tate’s future!

Tate’s natural gifts have never been questioned but nagging injuries, along with elite players who shared his position during the grassroots season, didn’t allow him to display them consistently over the last two years. Heading into the ‘18-‘19 season, on a young Cushing squad with a clear demand for a veteran leader and reliable high-level production, Tate recognized an opportunity to expand his role and knew that Cormier would encourage him to take full advantage of it.

While he’s experiencing more individual success and garnering more attention from college programs than ever before, Tate refuses to hog the spotlight. “My teammates are the biggest reason for my success,” Tate said after Cushing’s blowout win over Bradford Christian at the 2019 NESPSAC AA Showcase. “They motivate me to come in every day and give it my all. This group is really special, really talented and I just want to take advantage of what we have. I appreciate these guys so much, man.”

Tate took a mature approach to improving his skillset and Hoops IQ during the off-season. He evaluated his weaknesses and worked to turn  them into areas of strength. “The game has really slowed down for me this year. Offensively, I’m recognizing gaps as soon as they open but I also have a better understanding of where, when and how to attack them. If a defense is packing the lane, it’s a chance for me to drive, draw defenders in and kick it outside. I’m so confident doing that because I’m surrounded by some many great shooters. They all wanna make big shots and they won’t hesitate to take them.”

Tate’s own jumper has improved exponentially as well. He’s forcing defenders into hard close-outs and giving himself a number of ways to attack off the bounce. If a defender gets lazy, sits back on his heels and dares him to shoot, this is what happens.....

Most of the expectations that were placed upon Tate early in his prep career were a result of the success of his older brother Dana, a 6’7” man-child who starred at MacDuffie and with Expressions before heading to Rhode Island, where he’s currently a freshman. But those expectations never fazed Daman, who points to his family as his biggest influence when it comes to his positive outlook, work ethic and passion for the game.

“I just want to give back to my parents as much as I can and I see basketball as an outlet to do that,” said Tate. “They’ve done so much for me and I want to make them proud. They’ve taught me the importance of being unselfish and sacrificing for the people you love.”

Tate will give his parents another reason to be proud when he accepts a basketball scholarship at some point in the next few months. He currently owns offers from Rhode Island and Richmond but don’t be surprised when that list expands soon. Programs from the Ivy, Patriot, NEC, A-10 and the Big East have expressed interest.

As long as Daman Tate continues to come with the same energy that I saw this weekend, he’s going to provide his future college program with a ton of value and two-way versatility over the next four years. Regardless of level.

Tate’s 6’5” frame remains chiseled and has room for muscle but, no that he’s healthy, he’s able to explode and use his power to finish through contact