Light's Coming On For Tyshawn

KU's last player to commit in the 2008 recruiting class just might be the best.

His name is Tyshawn Taylor, a future star guard who is already wowing Jayhawk fans and the nation with his talent and athletic ability.

Taylor, who is KU’s third-leading scorer at 9.8 points per game, almost never made it to Kansas. He had already signed a letter of intent to attend Marquette when head coach Tom Crean bolted to take the Indiana job.

The New Jersey native was let out of his scholarship and committed to KU in late April.

"I feel like this is one of the top three or four colleges for basketball in history,” Taylor said. “The inventor of the game was the first coach here. Great coaches  and players came after him. There are a bunch of guys in the NBA.This is a great atmosphere with great history."

Taylor is now part of the rich history. He first gave KU fans of glimpse of his supreme talents during KU’s three exhibition games in Ottawa, Ontario on Aug. 30-31. Taylor led KU in scoring against McGill (18) and Ottawa (21), and finished the trip averaging 13.7 points while shooting a blistering 59.3 percent from the field.

KU coach Bill Self raved about Taylor afterwards.

“I’ve coached one guy that may be faster,” Self told the Jayhawk Radio Network. “Dee Brown (former Illinois star) end to end may be faster. Tyshawn is a jet. He’s a great looking prospect, probably as good a guard prospect as we’ve (brought) in here. Prospect, not saying player. But I do think he’s going to get there as a player. He’s been  very well coached in high school.”

Self was grateful that KU was able to land Taylor after he originally signed with Marquette.
“We lucked out on Ty,” Self said. “If there wouldn’t have been that coaching change, he’d be at Marquette right now. We slow played him in the fall, saying we wanted the last visit. We were actually waiting to see what BoBo (J’Mison Morgan of South Oak Cliff High School in Dallas, Texas) would do with our scholarship limitations. Of course, BoBo ended up signing with LSU and has since gone to UCLA.”
“He’s one of the best guard prospects that I’ve ever had,” Self added. “I just see him continue to get better and better as he gets stronger. ... I’m not saying he’s (Kirk) Hinrich, I’m not saying he’s (Mario) Chalmers yet. But he has a chance to be very elite.”

After four games this season, Taylor continues to shine. He received his first start against Florida Gulf Coast in game two on Nov. 18 and will likely keep his starting spot the remainder of his college career.

Taylor has been scorching the nets thus far on 61.5 percent shooting, while also averaging 2.0 assists, 2.0 rebounds and 1.5 steals in 24.5 minutes per game.

The 6-3 guard flew under the radar in high school averaging just 10 points per game his senior year for his national champion St. Anthony team in Jersey City. But after his performance in the O’Reilly Auto Parts CBE Classic in Kansas City, Taylor has finally arrived on the national scene.

He was brilliant in KU’s loss to Syracuse (89-81 in OT) in the championship game on Tuesday, scoring 11 of his career-high 17 points in the first half.

With KU leading just 11-10 and star point guard Sherron Collins on the bench with two fouls, KU looked in trouble. But then came Taylor to the rescue. He scored all nine points in a furious 9-0 run to energize the Jayhawks and propel Kansas to a 41-30 halftime lead, including a three-pointer and a spectacular layup off a steal, where he dazzled KU fans and the ESPN audience by eluding a defender with a nifty spin move in the lane.

“I feel I just had to step it up,” Taylor said about Collins’ absence. “I came out there and played hard and tried my best to make plays for the team.”

Self was quite impressed.

“For a four or five-minute stretch (in the first half), he was the best player in the game,” Self said. “He did a lot of good things. He’s going to be a really good player.”

Taylor also played well in the semifinal game against Washington on Monday night. He scored 10 points (4-5 FG) and displayed his tremendous athletic ability by racing downcourt to block a sure layup by Huskies’ guard Isaiah Thomas.

“I saw it coming,” said sophomore center Cole Aldrich. “He does that every once in a while in practice. If somebody gets a wide open layup, he always tried to run down and contest that.”

Taylor is working hard on his game to become a complete player. Self wants him to take care of the ball better and improve defensively.

“Tyshawn needs to be our lockdown defender on the perimeter,” Self said. “If he learns to play with his hands in a legal way, I think he has the same type of talent as Mario to come up with steals and deflections and things like that I don’t know if he can anticipate as well as Mario. I don’t know who does, but I certainly think he can be a guy who can be one of the steal leaders in our league eventually.”

If Taylor’s impressive play continues, the last commit of the 2008 KU recruiting class could rise to stardom much sooner than later. Top Stories