Monday, April 3, 2017

Hall of Fame Material: Tyshawn Taylor and Bill Self close through good times and bad

Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor and KU coach Bill Self have some words during the first half of Monday's game against Baylor.

Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor and KU coach Bill Self have some words during the first half of Monday's game against Baylor.


Just eight days after undergoing arthroscopic surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee, Tyshawn Taylor played 33 minutes for Kansas in a loss to Davidson in December of his senior season. That requires exceptional toughness, so nobody can question the degree of that trait in tungsten-tough Taylor.

The ultra-quick guard from New Jersey didn’t feel so tough though when he did something that landed him in the equivalent of the principal’s office, a one-on-one chat with coach Bill Self.

Taylor recalls wanting to put it off, even slowing his walk on the way to the meeting.

A four-year starter at Kansas, Taylor broke his finger in a fight with the football team his sophomore year, was suspended late in his junior season and again for the exhibition season of his senior year.

Each time, Taylor said he would talk first with assistant coach Kurtis Townsend to try to gauge, “Am I really in trouble? Is he really, really mad?”

Then he would take a deep breath and go face the music.

“I’d be super uncomfortable,” Taylor said by phone from Turkey, where he plays professional basketball. “I’d be sweating a lot, super nervous, not really sure how he was going to give it to me. Was he going to be really mad and yell at me? Or was it going to be one of those where it’s almost like you’re talking to your parents and you feel so bad because they’re disappointed in you.”

The lower the volume, Taylor said, the deeper it cut.

“He could be screaming at me in his office: ‘What the hell were you thinking?’ Then, OK, it’s over. I could deal with that,” Taylor said. “Sometimes you had to sit there with him for 30 minutes and take it. He didn’t yell at you then, and it made you super uncomfortable. You felt really bad about disappointing him. But he never made me feel super bad about myself. I haven’t been with him for four or five years, but he’s still with me. I’m about to be 27 (April 12) and he’s the most influential male in my life, just because of the things he said to me that stuck with me.”

Taylor credits Self with preparing to start as a freshman at Kansas by “making me feel super relaxed, didn’t make me feel like there was any pressure on me.”

Taylor said he appreciates Self even more now.

“I don’t know if you realize it as much when you’re playing for him, but looking back, we had a style of play, but we had freedom within that style of play,” Taylor said. “Playing for him, you’re not going to feel like you can’t be who you are. He’s not going to take away your individuality: ‘Go be the athletic kid you are. Play fast. Play defense.’ He made us look our best and he made me feel good about the player I am.”

Taylor averages 19.1 points and 6.4 assists for Mamak Belediye Ankarda D.S.I. He appeared in 61 games for the Brooklyn Nets in his first two seasons after Kansas.

Our Series on Bill Self's Journey to the Hall of Fame

• Hall of Fame Material Part I: Larry Brown ‘in awe’ of Bill Self’s stellar run at Kansas

• Hall of Fame Material Part II: Daughter Lauren most impressed by Bill Self’s ability to mentor

• Hall of Fame Material Part III: Frank Mason III knew right away that Bill Self was the coach for him

• Hall of Fame Material Part IV: Doc Sadler says Bill Self same (sarcastic) guy as the day he met him

• Hall of Fame Material Part V: Bill Self’s style, passion make Danny Manning a proud alum

• Hall of Fame Material Part VI: Bob Davis cites Bill Self’s personal touch as key to success


Jonathan Allison 5 years, 4 months ago

"Taylor averages 19.1 points and 6.4 assists for Mamak Belediye Ankarda D.S.I. "

Good to hear that TT is playing well in Turkey. He is a player who has NBA talent. Hopefully playing a few years overseas and earning a living has helped him to develop the maturity and professionalism that seems to have sidelined his NBA career. It's not to late for him to find success in the NBA, several players have had to spend time overseas or in the DLeague before they become solid NBA players. But at his age, the League isn't going to give him too many more do-overs.

Jonathan Allison 5 years, 4 months ago

I always loved watching TT play at Kansas. He was sooo good at beating a guy 1 on 1 and getting right to the rim. There was such a smoothness to the way he could slide and dice a defense and get a layup. I had a lot of confidence in him when he had the ball in his hands during his Jr and Sr years. Especially as a Sr when he was solid from 3pt range as well.

Bryce Landon 5 years, 4 months ago

I didn't like Tyshawn much the first three years he was here. I thought he was out of control and acted like a mental case. But after the Davidson loss in December 2011, it's almost like something clicked inside him, and he matured so rapidly and played his best basketball ever. That was a key to getting to the Final Four in 2012 and playing for the national title.

Barry Weiss 5 years, 4 months ago

Tyshawn was probably one of my all-time favorites at KU. I think his ups and downs really had me in his corner pulling for him. I think I recall his background was from a pretty rough neighborhood and few rarely even made it through high school. He got his 4 year degree at Kansas. A great success story to me. He had the perfect size for a point guard. I always felt good with Tyshawn bringing the ball up court

Jonathan Allison 5 years, 4 months ago

I seem to remember that he and his mother had bounced around a little between Hoboken, NJ and Florida because she was trying to find a way to pay the bills and keep the lights on. Home life wasn't always easy, and basketball was ultimately the reason why he finished HS. Didn't he play for Danny Hurley in HS?

edit: correction he played for the elder Hurley. Bob Hurley Sr. at St. Anthony's.

Joe Joseph 5 years, 4 months ago

Taylor had one of the all-time great senior seasons. His play, especially during the conference portion of the season, was terrific.

Clara Westphal 5 years, 4 months ago

I remember a game when Taylor was trash talking with a member of the other team and lipreading Coach Self telling him to "shut up and play ball". The rest of the game Tyshawn was amazing. It helps when a player listens to his coach.

I wish him the best in his career.

Ben Simonett 5 years, 4 months ago

Roy Williams > Bill Self

Either that or the UNC program provides him more resources than KU. either way, time to accept KU inst elite

Bville Hawk 5 years, 4 months ago

I think it's more a case of Roy Williams being luckier than Bill Self.

Tim Orel 5 years, 4 months ago

What's Roy's record vs. Bill? Yes, team vs. team, but Roy's boys haven't been able to hold a candle when matched against Self's teams.

Ben Berglund 5 years, 4 months ago

Not that your comment deserves a response, but it's complete nonsense. National titles are the only measure where Roy's accolades exceed Bill's, and I can remember a 15-year title drought between our last title-winning coach and our current one. Bill has a few years to match or exceed Roy in the years it took to do it as well.

Bryce Landon 5 years, 4 months ago

But it's true! Roy Williams has done three times in 14 years at UNC what he was unable to do once in 15 years! In that same time span, Self has only been able to do it once. And as far as Final Four appearances go, Self can't hold a candle to Williams' jock. Williams has been there a total of nine times - four with KU, five with UNC. Self has only been there twice. Williams' record in the Elite Eight is a whopping 11-2, Self's Elite Eight record is an abysmal 2-7. So yes, Williams > Self in regards to NCAA Tournament performance!

Shannon Gustafson 5 years, 4 months ago

The only direct comparison we have since it involves the same school, same recruiting advantages/disadvantages, etc:

Roy: 15 years at KU, no titles. Bill: 14 years at KU, 1 title. Advantage: Bill

Roy: 9 final fours in 29 years Bill: 2 final fours in 14 years Advantage: Roy

Roy: 11-2 in elite 8 Bill: 2-7 in elite 8 Advantage: Roy

Roy: Head coach during one of the largest academic scandals in NCAA history, not yet resolved due to NCAA incompetency and strategic stalling by North Carolina. Bill: No academic scandals Advantage: Bill

Ben Berglund 5 years, 3 months ago

Wow, I was not aware of Roy's Elite 8 record - that's impressive. I still think Bill's overall consistency and head to head matchups prove he's the better coach. It always tickles me to remember Roy being asked about Bill going to the triangle-and-two against him in the Final Four in '08, and he hadn't even realized we'd gone to zone.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.