This Diamond Has High Value

Not all the best prospects in the Class of 2009 from Illinois are committed. Diamond Taylor, a shooting guard from St. Joe's is on the board and one Big Ten school has an inside track.

Diamond Taylor, a 6-foot-4 shooting guard out of St. Joseph's in Chicago, Ill., is one of those kids from a strong high school program who's having an excellent junior campaign. High-major programs are taking notice.

As kids from the state of Illinois – in the younger classes – continue to make their collegiate choices, Taylor is sticking with his plan and isn't about to fret.

"I've thought about it," Taylor said. "But my coach told me with the early commitments they'll be centering more on me. I'm still looking for the right spot. Now with the early commitments, they'll pay more attention to me."

Even though Illinois, with its bevy of younger pledges, doesn't appear to be an option, other regional powers are giving chase. Wisconsin, Indiana, Notre Dame, Kentucky, Minnesota and Virginia are in touch. "Right now I'd say the No. 1 school is Wisconsin because they're recruiting me the hardest. Virginia and Kentucky have been calling a lot lately too."

Taylor has been to Badger Land and Indiana. In relation to the Badgers, he sees what they're all about. "I can come in and play right away. They're losing some senior guards and they compare me to Devin Harris. He had the skinny build and they think they can develop me like they did with Devin Harris."

Meanwhile, his situation with Indiana is on hold. "I haven't talked to them since the incident. It's definitely going to be tough."

Taylor, a starter for Mike Mullins' Illinois Wolves squad, understands that he's got to add bulk to an athletic but thin frame. "I'm starting to get a little cut up right now. Coach Ping wants me to get cut and get muscle mass and then add some weight in the summertime. In the off season I'll try and gain some muscle mass."

In anticipation of the 3-point line moving back, Taylor keyed in on improving his shot. Recently he went 5-for-6 in a game and will have a chance to show off his stroke later this week on regional TV when St. Joe's play for the conference title.

After the season expect Taylor to break down his recruiting further. There's no rush, but a decision in the next few months isn't out of the question. "At first I was going to wait until the beginning of next year but I might make a spring decision."

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