Tyshawn Taylor had heard all sorts of things from people once his name wasn’t called in the first round of Thursday’s NBA draft.
So it came as a relief when he was finally taken with the 41st pick by the Portland Trail Blazers, who traded his rights to the Brooklyn Nets.
“I was just staying ready, being alert, and just being happy, looking forward to the opportunity,” Taylor said. “I knew that any team that was going to take me was going to want to play me right away.”
Taylor was sitting on steps inside the Room 84 nightclub in Hoboken, N.J., shaking his head in disgust at the previous selection when he learned that he had been picked at No. 41.
An NBCsports.com report earlier in the day had even indicated that the Chicago Bulls were likely to take him with pick No. 29.
“It’s weird, because I thought to myself at the beginning of the draft that I probably would get drafted by a team that I didn’t work out for. And that’s exactly the case with Brooklyn,” Taylor said. “I met with them at Chicago. I sat down and spoke to their GM (Billy King), but of course, I don’t think they figured I would be there when they picked. So, the fact that they picked me is great.”
The selection means that Taylor will be playing about 10 miles from his hometown of Hoboken.
“It’s not that far,” Taylor said. “It’s over one of those bridges over there.”
KU coach Bill Self was asked what advice he’d give to Taylor, who started all four years as a Jayhawk.
“Be who he is, and don’t forget who he is. And don’t get caught up in thinking he’s done anything, because he hasn’t yet,” Self said. “And just to work. ... His athletic ability and his talent will win out over time, because all he has to do is just be who he is and just do what he knows he can do.
“Don’t try to be great or do anything exceptional. Just go be who you are. Because who he is is plenty good enough to make that team.”
Taylor called the opportunity to go to the Nets “a blessing.”
“I feel like I have the opportunity anyway because of what I can bring for a team. I can defend,” Taylor said. “Being a four-year player at a university like Kansas, I think, gives me a step up in competition of coming into the league ready — ready to play right now.”
Brooklyn general manager King said the Nets had targeted Taylor for a while before buying the pick from Portland.
“We had him on our board pretty high,” King told the Associated Press. “We were trying to get a young point guard that we could groom. We liked his pedigree and his ability to play in big games. Once we started to slide, we made the move to get him. We liked his overall play as a point guard and we think his best basketball is ahead of him. We like his decision making and his size. He knows what it takes to be successful.
“He’s played with a lot of talented players in the past and that makes you a better player.”
Self admitted to being proud when both Taylor and Thomas Robinson were drafted Thursday because of both players’ circumstances.
Both, he said, had persevered through rough times.
“Tyshawn goes from being the most criticized guy that I’ve coached — period — to now, ‘How in the world can we play without him?’ and every fan feels the same way,” Self said. “Thomas basically having no one in his life and having to be a man on his own and that kind of stuff to maturing and being an unbelievable ambassador for our university. It’s really cool how both of them handled their situations.”
Self said both players ended up in good locations.
“I know what drives them both: It drives them nuts to think that somebody thinks that somebody’s better than them,” Self said. “So I don’t think the draft could have gone much better for either one of them from a script standpoint.”