Taylor talks about UW commitment

Jahmel Taylor admitted to having interest in the Washington Huskies when he was young. As a tenth-grader he found himself talking with Paul Fortier and his interest grew. With Huskies Head Coach Lorenzo Romar watching Monday, the 5-foot-11, 160-pound guard from Pacific Hills in Los Angeles had 28 points, 9 assists and 8 rebounds in a 77-59 over West Ranch in the Providence MLK Classic.

The win was big enough for Taylor, but what Romar told him after the game took it over the top. "We played hard and we fought and we came up with a great win," Taylor said Monday afternoon. "I played well. I talked to (Romar) after the game and he was very excited. He told me that he was pretty much giving me an offer and wanted to know what my decision was.

"I told him I would think about it and get right back to him. After he talked to my Dad and hearing the things he was looking for me to do and how he truly felt about me, at that moment I knew I was going to make a decision. Deep in my heart I always wanted to become a Husky, so I made that decision today."

But it took one more talk with Romar to seal the deal. "He said to get back to me and we would talk and I told him I was ready," Taylor said of his verbal commitment to UW. "He was kind of surprised at the moment, but I told him again I was ready to make the decision and to come to Washington.

"With them showing interest in me again and offering me, I really couldn't back down from the offer. I was very excited. I know coach Romar's style of play. He's constantly working hard to win and improve players, and I felt like it was the best fit for me. I'm very excited to become a Husky and hopefully we go hard next year. I know they have a lot of talent and I'm just hoping that I can bring as much as I can to the table."

What was Romar's reaction to Taylor's decision? "He was really excited," Taylor said. "He gave me a big hug. We shook hands and we talked. He talked to my family too. We were very joyful and very excited."

Taylor chose Washington over offers from Long Beach State, UC-Santa Barbara and Fresno State.

What kind of player is Washington getting in Taylor? "He's had a terrific high school career," said Ryan Silver, President and COO of Pangos Basketball. "As a freshman, he led (Notre Dame) the furthest they had ever gotten in the last 20 years. As a sophomore he was the Division IV State Player of the Year. He averaged roughly 30 points a game. Our team won a CIF Championship and we were a buzzer beater away from winning a state championship.

"This year Pac Hills are off to an incredible start. I believe they are 16-2. The kid is just a winner. He's won at every level he's been at."

"I'll do whatever I can to win," added Taylor. "I can shoot, I can get to the basket, I get guys easy shots. For my size, I'm a great rebounder. I want to win, so whatever it takes, whatever coach needs, I'll be there to do it and execute."

Romar has also talked to Taylor about his ability to defend. "He definitely wanted to make sure I understood defense was the main key, but he also knew that I'm a player that plays defense," Taylor said. "That's the first thing in mind for me."

According to Taylor, Romar compared him to a slightly taller Isaiah Thomas. "He's a combo guard, so playing with Nigel (Williams-Goss) will be a great thing," Silver said of Taylor. "Jahmel can play on or off the ball. I know Nigel is a point guard, but Jahmel is a combo. His greatest strength is his ability to shoot the ball. He can really shoot it.

"He's just a tough, hard-nosed kid that basically came up from pretty much nothing. He's just a hard working guy. He has a chip on his shoulder and he wants to prove to the world that he's going to be successful. People have doubted him at every level, and all he's done is win."

Taylor is aware of his reputation of being a little bit of a pit bull on the court. "Growing up I've always been the shorter guy, so that was the thing I really needed to show people that I have heart," he said.

Taylor also knows Williams-Goss and is excited at the prospect of playing along side the Findlay Prep guard at Montlake. "Me and Nigel have a close relationship, actually," said Taylor. "I've kind of known him since the eighth grade. Each time I see him we talk a lot. I've been over to his house a couple times and I'm really excited to play with him. He's a great guy and he brings a lot to the table. It should be fun."

Taylor pointed to Romar as one of the big reasons he believes he'll have success at Washington. "He has tremendous character," Taylor said of Washington's head man. "He works hard, day-in and day-out. He's doing as much as he can to improve his team as players and as students and as men. From what I've seen so far he's shown a lot of character and has demonstrated to me what it means to be a man. Knowing coach is great and I'm looking forward to being one his players."

Silver believes Romar's reputation with players like Taylor will prove to be a powerful partnership down the road. "Lorenzo does a terrific job with undersized guards," said Silver. "He's had a lot of success with them in his up-tempo style. Jahmel shoots it as well as any guard in the West Coast."

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