Tyshawn Taylor... 'From City Courts to the Historic Hardwood of Allen Fieldhouse'
Jan. 21, 2011
LAWRENCE, Kan. –
Looking up at the numerous championship banners in the rafters of Allen Fieldhouse, junior Tyshawn Taylor knows he is a far cry from the city courts of Hoboken, N.J. The guard grew up just a stone’s throw from Madison Square Garden in New York City, often referred to as ‘The World’s Most Famous Arena,’ but now he’s more than happy to be making a name for himself in one of college basketball’s most historic venues.
“I think about that a lot,” Taylor said. “I talk to a number of my high school teammates about how I’ve come a long way and that I just want to continue doing what I love to do.”
What Taylor has done in his first two and a half years in the Crimson and Blue is substantial. Taylor came to Lawrence looking to guide the `Hawks back to the Final Four after Kansas won it all the year prior. Taylor started in all but two games during his freshman season in 2008-09, while helping lead Kansas all the way to the Sweet 16.
“The atmosphere was unbelievable when I first committed to come play here because they (KU) had just won a national championship,” Taylor said. “That was part of the reason that I came here because I felt like I could experience what winning was all about.”
Since Taylor first suited up for Head Coach Bill Self and company, they have done just that; win. The now upperclassman has been a part of over 75 victories, including three in the Big 12 Tournament and another three in the NCAA Tournament. Taylor does not know what it’s like to lose a game at home, having seen his Jayhawks win 47 of their school record 69 straight at Allen Fieldhouse under his watch.
“That’s why you come to Kansas,” he said. “You know you are going to be playing against really talented guys and you know that teams are going to be ready to play when they come here, because we are Kansas. We expect that and we know there is not one day where we can go into a game and think, ‘alright this is going to be easy.'”
It hasn’t been easy for Taylor and his team thus far, having won three games this season by three points or less at home and having another go into overtime on the road. During those four close contests Taylor has averaged just under 11 points, with a tie for his season high in points (17) coming against UCLA back on December 2 in a little over 30 minutes of play.
“Playing teams who bring their ‘A-game’ night in and night out brings the best out of us,” the junior said. “When you get the best out of guys who already work hard and are very talented, you have a pretty good team on your hands.”
Taylor would know a thing or two about working hard. Entering conference play this season he was averaging just over a point more than his career average of 8.5 per game and was seeing more minutes, 27 instead of the 24.8 he averaged during his freshman and sophomore seasons.
“I have been here for two years and have been playing since I was a freshman, so now that I am a junior, it is just my time,” Taylor said. “I learned from guys before me like Sherron (Collins) and Cole (Aldrich), so now that I have some of the younger guys on the team looking up to me, it was time to use that experience and step up my game.”
His much-improved game has also garnered some national attention. Taylor was named a finalist for the Bob Cousy Award earlier this month, which recognizes the nation’s top point guard.
“In high school I never really had a position,” he said. “My coach would just put me out there and I would just make plays, so coming here and transitioning into the point guard role, I still am able to make things happen.”
One of those situations Taylor is eluding to happened back on November 12 in his team’s first game of the 2010-11 season. The junior registered a double-double in points and assists with 17 and 10, respectively, en route to a 113-75 win over Longwood University.
“I’ve always been an unselfish player,” the Cousy Award finalist said. “I have no problem dishing the ball out, but I think my athleticism and my quickness are the two biggest keys to my game. That is why I’m able to be a good defender and get some steals.”
As for how those two qualities will help Taylor and his teammates the rest of the way this season, the junior points to the hours they spent off the court preparing for a seventh-straight Big 12 Championship.
“We put in a lot of work in the off-season,” Taylor said. “Because of that, we came back and we have a really good team this year and have an even better chance of doing something really special.”
If Taylor and the Jayhawks are able to go deep into March, and even April, in this spring’s NCAA Tournament, the New York City area product is aware his legacy in the KU program will stretch far beyond the state of Kansas.
“When I go home there are little kids that look up to me and say they watch me play on TV,” he said. “It is pretty cool to be so far away but have friends and family at home be able to watch me play almost every night.”
The eyes on Taylor and the Jayhawks will most definitely increase as the season goes on, not just in New Jersey and Kansas, but around the nation as the point guard from Hoboken tries to validate why he came to Lawrence in the first place; so players and coaches from all over can see him cut down the nets and hoist a trophy above his head that reads, ‘National Champions.’