In Jahlil Tutein’s mind, he will be making his postseason debut Monday night.
Tutein, a junior, has been on LBJ High School’s varsity basketball team for three years, playing as a starter since his sophomore season. But he scored only two points in LBJ’s two playoff games in 2011 and missed the 2012 postseason with a fractured wrist.
“This is basically my first playoff game, so I’m just going in there and playing like a madman,” Tutein said.
Equipped with a competitive personality that has defined him on and off the court — “They know about me,” he said, nodding to his teammates when he was asked about playing video games — Tutein has led LBJ to a 30-3 record. As the UIL boys playoffs open this week, the Jaguars are ranked sixth in the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches Class 4A state poll.
A 6-foot-3-inch point guard, Tutein has averaged 11.3 points and 8.9 assists per game this season.
“I’ve been here for quite a while, and I think Jahlil is one of the better point guards that I’ve coached — and I’ve had some great ones,” said LBJ coach Freddie Roland, who has been at the school since 1996. “He can score, but he’s going to distribute the ball to who he thinks has the best opportunity to score.”
Tutein has faced hardships during his breakout season, most significantly the death of his mother. Janet Darby died unexpectedly on the morning of Dec. 30. She was 45.
Tutein said he didn’t know much about his mother’s death, only that she died in her sleep.
Darby, who played basketball at LBJ and Tarleton State, often attended her only son’s practices, and she brought snacks for him and his teammates. After her death, it was those teammates whom Tutein leaned on for support.
“This season has been good; I’ve been with my brothers,” Tutein said. “This team, I call them my brothers because they brought me in and told me everything would be all right.”
Darby’s death came one day after LBJ finished playing at a tournament in Fort Worth. Since Dec. 30, LBJ has played 10 games, and Tutein has scored 92 points and shot 50.7 percent from the field. He had at least 10 assists in seven of those games against District 26-4A foes.
So is Tutein the Austin area’s best point guard? Possibly. He will get to make his case during LBJ’s bi-district playoff game against Vista Ridge. Starting for the Rangers will be Daniel Jackson, a New Hampshire signee who is averaging 19 points and 3.4 assists per game.
“He’s got to deal with me; I’ve got to deal with him,” Tutein said with a smile. “That’s all I have to say.”
Tutein wears Chris Paul’s No. 3 jersey, but he said his favorite players are Michael Jordan, Julius Erving and Isiah Thomas. But the player to whom LBJ fans may compare Tutein is Donald Dallas, his cousin.
Dallas was a four-year starter for the Jaguars, and he earned all-district honors in three of those seasons. An All-Central Texas honoree in 2010, Dallas helped LBJ to the 2009 state tournament.
Tutein said he would like to match his cousin’s feat, adding that the “first and only goal” the Jaguars set before the season was a trip to the state tournament.
The journey begins Monday.
Head of the Class of 2014
LBJ point guard Jahlil Tutein isn’t the only junior who has made a significant impact on the court this basketball season. Here are five more junior standouts who have led their teams into the postseason:
Clayton Baumgart, F, Burnet: In addition to 15 points and 8.2 rebounds, the 6-foot-7-inch Baumgart is contributing 3.4 blocks per game.
Josh Coleman, G, San Marcos: The Rattlers entered the season with plenty of questions on offense, but Coleman helped answer them by providing 11.3 points and 4.4 assists per game.
De’Andre Davis, G, Cedar Ridge: An All-Central Texas player of the year candidate, Davis has averaged 21.8 points, 7.8 rebounds and 3.7 assists.
Trae Dilworth, F, McNeil: Named the All-Central Texas newcomer of the year in 2012, Dilworth has scored 115 points in the Mavericks’ past six games.
Teddy Lowery, G, Akins: The Eagles’ third-leading scorer, Lowery has played well recently, putting up at least 20 points in three of Akins’ past five games.
— Danny Davis
UIL boys basketball playoffs
Cedar Ridge at Anderson, 7 p.m.
San Marcos vs. San Antonio Reagan, 7:30 p.m. (Converse Judson High School)
McCallum vs. Leander, 7 p.m. (Delco Center)
Vista Ridge at LBJ, 7 p.m.
Lake Travis vs. McNeil, 7 p.m. (Vandegrift High School)
Round Rock vs. Austin High, 7:30 p.m. (Round Rock High School)
Pflugerville vs. Akins, 7:30 p.m. (Cedar Ridge High School)
Georgetown vs Willis, 7 p.m. (College Station High School)
Manor vs. Montgomery, 7 p.m. (Hearne High School)
Crockett at Cedar Park, 7:30 p.m.
Travis vs. Rouse, 7:30 p.m. (Concordia University Texas)
Elgin vs. Magnolia, TBA
Connally vs. Huntsville, TBA
Burnet vs Alvarado, 6 p.m. (Waco Midway High School)
Taylor vs. Waco La Vega, 7 p.m. (Belton High School)
Wimberley vs. Somerset, 8 p.m. (Boerne Champion High School)
Smithville vs. Sealy, TBA
Class A, Division I
Thorndale vs. Snook, 6 p.m. (Rockdale High School)
Thrall vs. Milano, 8 p.m. (Rockdale High School)