Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Fearless freshman

Taylor’s prep coach marvels at guard’s steady maturation

Kansas freshman guard Tyshawn Taylor, who was named Big 12 rookie of the week Monday, has impressed his Jersey City, N.J., prep coach, Bob Hurley, Sr., with his steady growth on the basketball court at Kansas this season.

Kansas freshman guard Tyshawn Taylor, who was named Big 12 rookie of the week Monday, has impressed his Jersey City, N.J., prep coach, Bob Hurley, Sr., with his steady growth on the basketball court at Kansas this season.


Basketball coaching legend Bob Hurley, Sr., who has won 23 state championships, three mythical national titles and more than 900 games the past 31⁄2 decades at tradition-rich St. Anthony High, remains a hoops junkie at the age of 61.

When he’s not tutoring his own players at the Jersey City, N.J., prep powerhouse, he’s watching games — lots of Kansas University games — at home on satellite TV.

“The KU package has been very good. I’ve been very excited getting to watch him play,” Hurley said of his prized pupil — St. Anthony grad Tyshawn Taylor — who is off to a spectacular start his freshman season at KU.

“It’s been so much fun. When Tyshawn spun against Syracuse and laid it in, Mrs. Hurley and I ... we were high-fiving each other,” Bob, Sr., added of one of the highlight-film plays of the Nov. 25 CBE Classic contest in Kansas City’s Sprint Center.

Hurley — who has coached five first-round NBA Draft picks — won’t be shocked if No. 6 is Taylor, a 6-foot-3, 180-pound dynamo who Monday was named Big 12 rookie of the week.

“He’s an athlete. There are so many things this kid is capable of doing,” Hurley said of Taylor, who earned the conference honor after averaging 15.0 points and 5.3 assists in three KU victories.

“I’m impressed with the way he’s guarding people. He’s actually doing a better job defensively this year than last year.”

Excelling at point guard

Taylor, who held Kent State senior standout Al Fisher to 2-of-11 shooting in KU’s 87-60 victory on Dec. 1, is the Jayhawks’ third-leading scorer at 11.8 points per game. He’s also dished 3.8 assists per contest, compared to his 10.0 scoring, 5.0 assist average last year at 32-0 St. Anthony.

“We were so balanced last year. We had a team full of guards. He was the 2-man (with Fordham’s Jiovanny Fontan the point),” said St. Anthony associate head coach Ben Gamble.

Taylor shared the wealth offensively on a team that included seniors A.J. Rogers (St. Joe’s), Alberto Estwick (Fordham) and Jamee Jackson (Quinnipiac) as well as blue-chip juniors Travon Woodall (Pitt signee) and (undecided) Dominic Cheek.

“We had the best team in the country. We blew out high school teams by 30 points. I’d play 21⁄2, three quarters. I’d get 10 points the first half and that was it,” Taylor said.

“I think I have a little more freedom here as crazy as it sounds. I may look to score a little more. I think I can score the ball pretty well, but if I can get the ball and swing it and somebody hits it, I feel better if they score. I can score as well as dish it out.”

Taylor has 30 assists against 19 turnovers in eight games in his first year running the show. After scoring 23 points, but dishing just three assists in a Dec. 3 rout of New Mexico State, he distributed a career-high 11 dimes to go with 10 points against Jackson State the very next game.

“Playing point guard is an adjustment for me. I’m sure I’ll get better at it soon,” said Taylor.

Learning by doing

His only point guard experience in high school came during the summer months.

“We always thought at the next level he’d play the point, so in camp settings, coach Hurley put emphasis on Tyshawn running the team,” associate coach Gamble said.

“During the offseason is when he developed his skills. When he came to Kansas last summer, we received early reports on how well he was handling being the point guard.”

Attending both sessions of summer school — and playing in the KC Pro Am League where he scored 47 points, yes 47 points in a single game — definitely sped Taylor’s development.

“When Tyshawn came back home in August for a few days,” Gamble said, “people were impressed at how he had developed. His moves were a lot more explosive in going to the basket. I think weight training at Kansas has helped him a lot.”

Though he’s far from a finished product, Taylor has already had some big games and eye-popping highlight-reel plays — like his spin move and bucket versus Syracuse standout Jonny Flynn.

“That night they played Syracuse, it was loud in my house. Nobody went to sleep until 1 in the morning,” said Taylor’s mom, Jeanell.

“It was an exciting game. The spin move — everything I see him do — I say, ‘My gosh look at my baby, my baby,’” she exclaimed.

“Everybody I know watched that game,” Jeanell added. “That night I felt like a celebrity. Everybody was calling my phone saying, ‘Did you see your baby? He’s doing his thing.’

“Whenever Tyshawn is on TV, everyone is in the house watching. Coming from where we live ... there’s a bond there where everybody sticks together and pulls together. Everybody wants him to do well.”

Life in the fishbowl

Jeanell said Tyshawn — who is a role model for his little sisters Taquana (15) and Ghariana (6) — already feels like a celebrity in hoops-mad Lawrence.

“He says, ‘Mom, everybody here loves me, loves the team. The fans are so great,’” Jeanell said. “Everytime we talk it’s good, nothing negative. He talks about the people there a lot.”

Fans and media members alike have compared Taylor —perhaps unfairly — to former KU standout Mario Chalmers.

“They wear the same number — that number 15,” Jeanell said. “I don’t mind them comparing him with Mario but I don’t want them to think he’ll do what Mario did. He is his own person.

“He will not overdo it trying to be somebody else to prove something to the fans. He’ll try to stand out like Mario ... but he is Tyshawn.”

Tyshawn Taylor smiles when asked about the Chalmers comparisons.

“I mean it’s a compliment, he’s in the NBA,” Taylor said. “Mario was a great player here. I think a lot of people expect me to be him and I’m not. I’ll try my best to be as good as I can be.”

The sky is the limit, his current coach — Bill Self — says.

“Mario had a fabulous career here. I don’t think any question Tyshawn is further along eight games into his career than Mario. He’s further along than Sherron (Collins) was eight games into his career, further along than any guard I’ve coached eight games into his career — further along than Deron Williams was eight games in.

“That said, he has to be further along. He’s had more opportunities to play,” Self said.

“Tyshawn is playing 30 minutes a game. Mario wasn’t playing that much. Will Ty be where Mario was, most outstanding player of the Big 12 Tournament as a freshman? That remains to be seen.

“If he can tighten his game a little — if he gets to the point where he can play every possession — I think he has a serious chance to be a fabulous player. He was Big 12 newcomer of the week and deservedly so. I don’t think many players out there will have his type of freshman year,” Self added.

That’s athletically, academically and socially.

Taylor — who will head back to Jersey on Christmas Eve for a couple days then return to Lawrence with his mom and other family members who’ll stick around for the Albany, Siena and Tennessee games in Allen Fieldhouse — simply loves the Midwest.

“It’s a lot less stressful here. I love home, don’t get me wrong, but the slower pace helps me out,” said Taylor, who rooms with fellow New Jersey native Quintrell Thomas. “Just relaxing and not being so antsy. I prefer a pace like this.

“I knew coming in it’d be a great atmosphere — the coaching staff, players, trainers are great. This is living up to what I thought it’d be like and I thought it’d be very good.”


Dirk Medema 11 years, 2 months ago

What a recruiter? Listen up Dominic. Join the fold, and you can go thru the roof as well.

KEITHMILES05 11 years, 2 months ago

Hearing what Hurley had to say about Tyshawn and his excitement for him it is kinda sad to think Cheek won't select KU. Maybe he'll surprise everybody and pull the trigger our way.

Jonathan Allison 11 years, 2 months ago

How can you not be a fan of this kid. This far into his career he really seems to be cut right out of the Kansas Basketball mold. And to think he would be at Marquette right now if Indiana hadn't stolen coach Crean last spring.

jhawks4life 11 years, 2 months ago

11 assists in a game. and a 5.3 assist average. those are aaron miles like numbers. if this kid sticks around he might break miles' KU assist record. this kid is a stud. end of story.

KUPROUD 11 years, 2 months ago

Tyshawn is a great example of the kind of young men Bill Self and staff have success recruiting. He wasn't a MCD all-american or the primary hot-shot on his HS team, but he showed the skills and personal traits needed to excel on a big-time stage. I hope we fully appreciate what we are experiencing in the Bill Self era.

wi_jayhawk 11 years, 2 months ago

I'm seeing some similarities to RussRob, also. I think maybe we have a hybrid of 'Rio and Russ, in some ways. Can't wait to see how good Tyshawn gets. Hope to see him stick around for a while!

kusarge 11 years, 2 months ago

Ty Taylor has the potential - POTENTIAL - to be one of the BEST Jayhawk guards ever. That being said, will he stick around 4 years to realize that potential? He's been thrown into the perfect storm with KU being such a young team, he's got a lot of leeway when he's on the floor. Opponent's keying on Collins has allowed him to shine early in his career. I'm excited if he can keep the pace when the conference season starts, (1) because most freshman hit a wall with more games on the college schedule and (2) with continuing performances such as the last week, his talent will be a secret no more.Also, I'd like to echo KUPROUD's comments on Coach Self. He's the best coach in the college ranks right now, hands down. Please, try and dispute that!

MurrayHewitt 11 years, 2 months ago

After that 23 pt. game, HCBS said three assists won't cut it. Now Ty starts working on distribution, and his points go down. Some might suggest Ty finds balance in his game, and I would agree... 23ppg, and 11 assists!!!!! I'm sorry, It's so much fun watching him score, It's a shame HCBS would deprive us of highlight reel goodies for 'Teamwork'!! Oh well, I guess that's why he makes the big bucks.

bangaranggerg 11 years, 2 months ago

There is no way to say "oh, this player is like this one" or "he's a hybrid of this guy and this guy". Even if you could really understand every aspect of every players game at an elite scouting level: game is like a fingerprint. True, most people familiar with the history of basketball would say they aren't going to see anything new or find some unique talent that no player has demonstrated before. Just don't waste your time comparing, if you want to compliment his creative passing- it doesn't have to be "as creative as Aaron Miles" or his ability to get to the basket "as explosive as Keith Langford" and so on. If you think a player demonstrates talent- give them that credit. Cause you gotta believe as the ball is rolling off his fingers he's not thinking "Oh, man if I would have curled around the defender with my left shoulder more people would have thought I looked like so and so from a college team 8 or 9 years ago." Na, they just think "2 points, get back on D".

kansasYEA 11 years, 2 months ago

What I love about Taylor is that he is so coachable. Everytime Self gives him something to work on- boom- done.

Eric TheCapn 11 years, 2 months ago

What the heck is a "mythical national title"? Is that like a metaphorical win? A fictitious coach? Myths aren't rooted in fact, Captain Thesaurus.

Marcia Parsons 11 years, 2 months ago

I think it means that you've done all the winning that would have won the national title, but there isn't an actual title to be won at your level.

wi_jayhawk 11 years, 2 months ago

I think we compare players for a couple reasons: One, to conceptualize the skills that a player is bringing to the table or said to have. And two, because we respected/liked the former players we mention and reference them as a tribute to what they have contributed to KU and the basketball world. Give us a chance to respect new and old. However, I do understand that each new player does and will show that they are an individual in their own way - worthy of representing their own name and skills.

Kyle Crenshaw 11 years, 2 months ago

maybe just because they are hard to get???

Chris Teegarden 11 years, 2 months ago

The "mythical national title" is some thing that I belive USA Today decides on based on the records of all the high school teams in the country. So there is no actual game played to decided it ie mythical

rockchalkin54 11 years, 2 months ago

"I think maybe we have a hybrid of 'Rio and Russ, in some ways."That is a scary thought for other teams.I sure hope Tyshawn stays all four years...

DrRoach 11 years, 2 months ago

He won't. Why should he? Don't get me wrong, but what would he have to gain by staying all 4??

MurrayHewitt 11 years, 2 months ago

DrRoach:To answer your post let me Dissect:He won't - How do you have any idea what this young man will do?Why should he - Let's let Ty work on that decision.Don't get me wrong- Uh... OK.... I won't!but what would he have to gain by staying all 4? - you're right.... money is EVERYTHING!!!!

wi_jayhawk 11 years, 2 months ago

Let's try and give each player some credit for wanting to get a true education. Not every KU player on scholarship is looking to leave early before going pro. I'd think that the seniors that got drafted from last years team would indicate that.

rasta_meta 11 years, 2 months ago

He reminds me of Steve Woodberry more than Mario Chalmers or Russell Robinson.

100 11 years, 2 months ago

And that, among many things, is what Memphis is missing. Real atmosophere, a true heart for the game. True appreciation for doing it the right way. Players working hard and feeling good about the fans. Real fans. Players not getting paid (unlike Memphis) but working hard (at things besides dribbling drills) to someday make a living in basketball. Learning true respect and humility. It takes a few months of the college experience to really get it -- there's no place like KU. Tyshaun gets it. Makes me feel bad for Xavier. He would have fit here perfectly. Bring on Cheek.

actorman 11 years, 2 months ago

"What the heck is a 'mythical national title'?"Ask the BCS.

Lance Hobson 11 years, 2 months ago

I really like this kid. He would have been a McD All-American had he not been on a team with so many stars that reduced his numbers. He really is a lot like Mario Chalmers, even if you don't like comparing. It will be interesting to see what happens to his minutes when Mario Little gets back into the lineup.

Tony Bandle 11 years, 2 months ago

StrikewsoI think that if Tyshawn continues to improve and Little does come back strong those minutes are going to be sacrificed by Reed and Morningstar......not so much because of a deficiency on their parts but rather simply an exceeded level of play on Ty's and Little's part. But, honestly, I think it's going to take Little a while to adjust so I don't foresee a drastic drop in PT for Reed and M immediately.

APB 11 years, 2 months ago

100, Man, you are so full of crap.True appreciation for doing it the right way...players not getting paid (unlike Memphis.) Explain to me why KU is tied with two other schools for the most major NCAA infractions committed by a Division 1 basketball program. Your last 5 coaches before Self have committed at least one major violation. Also the first and probably only national champion barred from defending its title in 1988. And what was that infraction?Illegal benefits to a player that played at Memphis. I could go on but Ill stop there with those few points. I realize most programs have had their run in with the NCAA but your " holier than thou" attitude is ridiculous. Dont throw rocks my man if you live in a glass house. As for Xavier, dont feel bad for him, he`s where he and his family want him to be.

100 11 years, 2 months ago

You KU fans know I'm just messin with the Memphis fans. It's just always nice to see how many of their fans hide and then freak out on our website. Go Tigers, Pay Money, Get Investigated, Go Tigers, Go Tigers Go! Xavier will be very sorry he signed once the NCAA is finished with Calipari. Bad mistake.

CasperCorps 11 years, 2 months ago

This kid is gonna be good but watch out if he and his teammates learn to play defense.. Anyone remember watching the last few years, and wondering if the other team was going to break 15 or twenty points in the first half of more then a few games?.. Rockem Hawks

Robert Murphy 11 years, 2 months ago

Russell Robinson, master of the sloppy pass and unreliable shooting stroke couldn't carry Tyshawn Taylor's jock strap.

Lin Rahardja 11 years, 2 months ago

KU could still need a SF. Come to Kansas Dominic and help win another championship. Your buddy is improving fast, you should too.

Robert Murphy 11 years, 2 months ago

Hey Ralster--I was a freshman at KU with Wilt the Stilt. That's the year that they completed Allen Field House. I probably have been watching KU basketball since before you were born. Robinson has played some pretty good defense and had a few outstanding games at Kansas but he wasn't much of a factor in the NCAA Tourney. In the regional semi final he had zero field goals, one assist, four turnovers and no points. Against Memphis he had 1 assist, three turnovers and two points. Robinson wasn't leading anyone anywhere. Collins off the bench was the driving force behind the Hawks. Robinson was always too slow and will not play in the NBA. My point was that Taylor has more speed and athletic ability and will have an impact career. Everyone, can we please stop with the RusRob BS.

ralsterKUMed95 11 years, 2 months ago

bobbyfissure,Everyone is certainly entitled to his/her opinion. I think what irked me the most was the blatantly disrespectful tone, to a championship-winning KU Alumni, no less. To say someone couldnt "carry someone's jock strap" or "master of the sloppy pass" I felt was harsh--I am well aware of his statline in the tournament, but he simply did not need to score, because of what he had around him. Why, oh why, was Collins off the bench and not Robinson last year? What was it that Bill Self saw that kept Collins from being a starter last year? Hmm? You are entitled to think whatever you want and rationalize it to your personal satisfaction--we all do that. But to take a low and needless swipe at probably one of the most beloved KU players in the last few years (along with DJackson, etc...) on a pro-KU blog will surely invite dissenting commentary, and support for one of our heroes, wouldnt it? And I dont really care about 2 off games--you essentially are talking about someone's legacy: Why did Self give Russell the reigns of the team for 2 years (two. years.). That fact alone refutes your hateful statement: "Robinson wasnt leading anyone anywhere". My summarization, certainly more accurate than yours is: Russell led the team to the final 3 games, and his team came through for him at precisely the time he/we needed them to. You cannot, sir, discount the total number of wins in the past two years by bringing up 2 subpar performances by 1 player. Arent you proud of ALL of them last year? Are you really an Alumni, sir? People were trying to name a player for reference, or even a recent benchmark for the point-guard, and they brought up Russell. A few years ago, it was Aaron Miles. In a few years it will be Sherron & Tyshawn. Do not fear, as the current group will build their own legacy. No sir, "stop with the RusRob BS", is not what WE were doing--it is what YOU did. Go back and read your needless post, and reconsider your harshness to our memory of Russell Robinson.

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