Big Man Taggart Ready for Next Step

Iowa State's latest prep school phenom from the East Coast has set some lofty goals for his first season on the job in Ames. Mount Zion (N.C.) power forward Shawn Taggart knows exactly what the Cyclones need and is ready to deliver right away.

The 6-foot-11, 225-pounder averaged 20 points, 10 rebounds, four blocks, and three assists this season, leading Mount Zion to a prep school national championship. Zion and Brandon Rush combined to key a victory over Maryland's National Christian in the title game.

"It was like a Shaq and Kobe between me and Brandon Rush," said Shawn Taggart, who inked with Iowa State in the fall signing class. "We had a pretty good two-man game."

Taggart will have plenty of weapons around him this fall – guards Curtis Stinson, Will Blalock, and Tasheed Carr are among them – but at the same time he could have to shoulder a lot of the load inside.

The Cyclones are losing starters Jared Homan and Damion Staple, and had already lost post players Robert Faulkner and Reggie George earlier in the season.

The Richmond, Virginia, native knows what will be asked of him, and is ready for the challenge.

"I can't wait to get up there and show all aspects of my game," Taggart said. "I'm real happy that they went to the NCAA Tournament. I'm real excited to be coming in after they had such a good year.

"It's going to be all eyes on me when I come up there. I can't wait to be in that position. I've got big shoes to fill with Jared Homan being gone. It's going to be hard, but I'm going to be working for it. I think I can get Big 12 freshman of the year if I work hard enough."

Homan played the best basketball of his college career at the end and Taggart was there to see the senior's final two games. The freshman-to-be traveled to Charlotte for the Cyclones' NCAA Tournament games against North Carolina and Minnesota.

"I talked to the coaches and players after they won their first game, and told them good job," Taggart said. "I really love their fans. They were hyped and going for their team. There isn't anything else better. I can't wait to get there and show them what I've got."

The whole experience reminded Taggart of his official visit to Ames.

"(My AAU coach Tony) Squire is a close friend with Coach Morgan, and told me that it would be a good situation for me," he said. "I went up there for a visit and loved it. The fans are great. They screamed my name out and had a little poster that said, ‘Come to Iowa State, Shawn.' I just loved that."

Taggart has worked hard to improve in all areas, modeling his game after Minnesota Timberwolves All-Star Kevin Garnett.

"I think I play a little like K.G. and Dirk Nowitzki," he said. "I can post up real well around the bucket, but can also shoot the ball and pass it. This year I think I passed the ball well, got rebounds, and blocked shots. I worked on a lot of things, including my ball-handling skills, post moves, and just all aspects, really."

Taggart is slated for graduation from Mount Zion May 21st, and after spending some time with his family in Virginia he will be on his way to ISU. In addition to taking some summer courses, he would like to gain 10 to 15 pounds.

"Before the season starts I want to be at least 235 or 240 pounds," he said. "The Big 12 is big and I need to hit the weights hard."

Look for Taggart's impact to be just as big.

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