Steve Taylor is a 6'-7" power forward from Simeon Career Academy High School in Chicago. The junior has seen his stock rise over the last year; he is considered the consensus top player in the state of Illinois in 2012. Colleges are starting to pick up the heat on Taylor, and the Illini are continuing to show interest.
He is a fan of the tempo the Illini play.
"They play up and down, which is my type of game."
Taylor took a visit to Champaign before his high school season kicked off.
"I took one visit toward the end of the summer for a football game."
He saw how the Illini fans support their teams. The forward talked about the atmosphere.
"It was crazy. I liked it."
Simeon head coach Robert Smith discussed the feedback Illinois has shown toward Taylor and how he would fit into their style of play.
"It has been up and down. To me Wisconsin, Illinois, and Michigan State fit him because he is a 6'-9" kid that can step out and hit the three. Their offenses fit that. He has the body for the Big 10 and is a physical guy."
The Illini have not stepped up to the table with an offer as of yet, but Smith knows they think highly of Taylor.
"I know he is high on their radar. I don't know if they have something else or if they are looking at what they brought in already."
Smith says a large number of schools are showing interest in his junior forward.
"Ohio State, Michigan State, Illinois, Nevada, New Mexico, Southern Illinois and DePaul. He has a boatload of others as well."
Taylor added Memphis, Oregon, Northwestern, Ohio, and Nebraska to that list. The schools that have offered scholarships are DePaul, New Mexico and Southern Illinois.
Coach Smith also shared how Taylor played this past season en route to Simeon's second consecutive state championship.
"He played great and is a warrior. He shot the ball well early in the year. His rebounding, shot blocking and getting out in transition really helped us a lot. He took a lot of pressure off of Rashawn (McElrath) to have another guy down there to rebound the basketball."
The forward says his breakout season was due to getting into the gym.
"It comes with working hard and getting better."
Taylor talked about his strengths.
"Around the rim and shooting the ball."
His ability to shoot is intriguing to colleges that are always looking for a versatile big man. He has continued to increase his efficiency with his shot.
"It developed and got better as the year went on. I think it will be there when I get to college."
Smith believes Taylor will bring a lot to a program at the collegiate level.
"He will probably be a combo forward. He has to get a little more athletic. His ball handling has gotten a lot better, and the way he can stretch a defense shooting the three helps."
This spring, the power forward will be competing with Mac Irvin Fire on the AAU circuit. He played well in their first weekend on the road. His ability to score in the post as well as step out and hit a jump shot helped lead the Fire 17U team to a championship at the Chicagohoops Spring Tip Off Classic.
Illinois will be following Taylor closely over the next couple months. With continued production, he could be one of the big men they offer for 2012.