3x AAU National Champion
2x Wisconsin High School Division 1 State Champion
Top 10 JUCO Point Guard
Point Guard at the University of Hawaii
Former College Coach at University of Hawaii and Concordia University of Wisconsin
Deonte Tatum is the owner of The Way Basketball, Basketball Coach and Consultant. He currently serves as a Founder and Director of Above & Beyond the Playground, a non profit organization, preparing student athletes for life after the game.
I have loved the game of basketball since I was first introduced to it. Any way that I could play the game I’d make an effort to do it. As a kid I would take and bend wire hangers in The shape of basket and stick in the door jambs of our very narrow hallway. My socks were sometimes my basketball. Milk crates became hoops nailed to electric poles in the alley. It didn’t matter to me my mind could imagine anything. If the weather was below freezing and snow covered the court, even this wouldn’t stop me from grabbing a shovel to head to the Garden Homes playground.
My father built my first basketball hoop in the back yard. My imagination definitely went to work. Everyday I was a someone different. I’d practice dunking like Jordan, shooting the Bird, and blocking shots like David Robinson. I would have everyone in my neighborhood playing basketball from 8 in the morning to 8 o’clock at night.
Winning became something that I became accustom to. Winning back to back grade school championship in 5th and 6th grade. Then going on to win Three AAU National Championships by ninth grade Wisconsin Playground Warriors(The best time of my young life). In high school I played for the nationally ranked Vincent Vikings. We won back to back WIAA Division 1 state championships. Winning has more to do with attitude, sacrifice, hard work , a shared vision and desire to see all those involved be successful.
My outlook on basketball changed when I Met Tony Sales in Wappalo(dorm room on Indian Hills community College campus). I was ready to return back to Milwaukee after the first semester. This was the first time my talent wasn’t good enough for me to start on the team and this drove me crazy. Crazy enough that I wanted to leave. I was sitting in my room when Tony knocked on the door. “What’s up Deonte” He said. I’m done and I’m not coming back after break. “Why” because I’m not playing as much as I want to.. Tony,” you’re not good enough or strong enough. This team just made it to the National Championship game last year. You need to get better”. My mouth hit the floor but in my heart I knew he was right. Tony, “ I tell you what, come back after Christmas break and I’ll train you three days a week an hour. After that you will be in the starting lineup.” I come back after break, train with Tony for the entire month of January for three days a week, along with lifting weights three days a week. Got me into the starting line up. This is when I realized that player Development and skill training needed to become a daily regiment for me. My game grew so much because Tony Sales!
When I’d return home during the summer from college. The Vincent High School Engineer would meet me at 5:30 am to let me in the gym. Coach Allen would arrive about 8 o’clock with a bunch of the high school players to lift and do vertical. After they would finish, he’d put me in charge of working them out. Because I didn’t have anyone helping me with skills training while in high school I felt compelled to help them prepare for what was next for them.
When I got to the University of Hawaii working out three times a day was the norm. Because I was used to getting up early I was in the Gym when Michael Kubler(Hawaii Legend) was in the NBA skills Trainer Glen Marx. I sat and watched the two of them work on very specific movement and granular details for an hour. After they were done Coach Marx called me over and asked me to join for the rest of the week. He broke my game down and began to take my game to another level. After every session I had to come back later just so the next morning he’d see that I improved. I wanted more and knew that I needed to get as much as I could from him before the week was gone. The next time he came to Hawaii he called me and I met him at 5:30 am.
My junior year at Hawaii probably stretch me more as a basketball player than ever in my career. The offensive system was unlike anything in my life that I’d ever played in. I no longer had the the ball in my hand for the majority of the game and I have to run off of screens and shoot threes. My footwork was awful. It took me back to when I was at the Nike All American camp my junior year and Jay Bilas was running a shooting station. He was teaching the inside pivot and I had never been taught to do this. I could not make a shot. After the season was done I returned home and shot 500 hundred shots a day coming off of screens.
A year later I ran into Phil Handy(LALakers) skill development coach. Phil played at UH and was back on the Island doing some training. Again, I just happened to be going to the gym and he was in there working some of his guys out. Just like with coach Marx I watched and listened until he called me over and invited me to join. I drank water out of fire hose for about 3 days. When you’re being taught things for the time and you are senior college it makes you wonder what if I’d learned this when I was in high school, what if someone would have mentored me and taught me how to play basketball.
My basketball journey has taught me that opportunities come to those who earnestly seeking and those who are hungry and humble enough to do whatever they can to get better. Being talented can only get you so far. The Way Basketball is here to be the bridge for people/players to take them from where they are to where they want to be. I want to share all of my experiences, my passion, and love for the game to help people/players have success while they’re playing basketball and when they are away from it. Living and playing the game of life and the game basketball the right way is important to me.