As Gonzaga was making its run through the month of March, and into the National Championship game, one of its priority recruits was also responsible for his team making a push for a championship. Playing against some of the top talent in the state of California, 2018 priority recruit, Taeshon Cherry, helped lead St. Augustine all the way to the CIF Southern California semifinals.
Cherry really pushed his game to another level during the latter half of his junior year, and according to his father, a lot of that improvement came on the mental side.
“I really thought he had a lot of growth in how he was able to handle everything thrown at him,” Cherry’s father, Darnell, said. “He was seeing so many different looks, and I think in the past, he might have reacted a different way to all of that. I really saw him handle himself a lot better on the floor, especially at the tail end of the season during crunch time.”
This improvement on the mental side of the game is something that the Top 50 recruit is going to continue to focus on in his development.
“I’m just trying to keep getting better mentally,” Taeshon explained “Physically, I think I am pretty good, and I am going to keep getting stronger in the weight room. I’m always shooting jumpers and focusing on getting bigger. Mentally, nothing really fazed me late in the season.”
Now that his junior year has concluded, the focus is turning towards the AAU season, where Cherry will be playing with the Oakland Soldiers.
“He will be working on every part of his game, but I think moving into his senior season, it will be around leading a team,” Darnell said. “I think having the AAU season is a good place to start with it. Next season, he is going to be the only senior on his team and everyone is going to be looking at him to lead. This year on the Oakland Soldiers, only a couple have guys played in the EYBL before, so they are going to be looking at him in a leadership role.”
After focusing on his junior season, recruiting is definitely starting to become a talking point for the family.
“I think for us, we are just asking a lot of deeper questions,” admitted Darnell. “And it’s not just about basketball, but how he would fit in socially and academically. I think our focus, and our questions, are a little more detailed so we can make an informed decision. We have to ask these tough questions, because he is our first son and we want him comfortable with those things I was talking about. We are also spending the time getting to know the coaches on a bit more personal of a level.”
Gonzaga has been one of the schools recruiting Taeshon the hardest, and this past season certainly caught his eye.
“It’s the family atmosphere and the way they play,” Cherry said of what stands out about the Zags. “I love the way that Coach Few coaches and how he uses his players. I watched them a lot this year. Like a lot. The way they used their stretch 4’s, that’s how I want to play, and it’s cool how Coach Few uses them.”
For Darnell, seeing Gonzaga play for a National Championship was a moment he felt was coming for the program.
“I was happy for all of those guys to break through, because there are a lot of Monday Morning QB’s in all sports. I don’t think people really take into consideration how tough it is to even win a conference championship. I was just happy for Coach Few and the whole program, because we know how much winning they have done. For them to get an opportunity to play for a championship was deserved.”
Before they start to narrow things down, the family will be keeping an eye on how the offseason impacts the roster at some of the top schools on the list.
“It’s two-fold. We worry about Taeshon first, as he is our top priority, but I want to make sure he is well-informed,” explained Darnell. “I pay attention to what coaches are leaving, how many transfers are happening and who is going to the NBA.”
When it does come time to make a decision, it seems that Gonzaga will for sure be in line for a visit this Fall.
“Right now we are getting ready for the AAU season. There are some coaches who have had contact with us and want to come by. We were hoping to get up to Gonzaga before the summer, but that will be difficult with the schedule. I know for a fact that we will go up there in the fall, and that will be an official visit.”
As they outline the schedule for visits, there are some key things that Taeshon will be looking at when it comes time to make a decision.
“Academics is a major one,” the priority recruit said. “I want to go to a place where I can fit in and be part of a family. I also want to go to a place where I can be successful on the court and that can help me reach my goal of getting to the next level, which is the NBA.”