Mizzou Hoops Adding a New Player?

It appears the Missouri men's basketball program's only remaining scholarship for next season is all but spoken for.

Delaware point guard Zaire Taylor anticipates transferring to Mizzou, so long as he does well enough summer coursework at Delaware for Mizzou to officially grant him the scholarship, Taylor told InsideMizzou.com Thursday.

"I don't want to speak for the coaching staff [but] that's pretty much the plan," said Taylor, a 6-foot-4, 180-pound guard from Staten Island, N.Y., who would take the scholarship vacated this spring when junior guard Glen Dandridge elected to leave the program.

Though nothing will be official until Taylor signs a National Letter of Intent, he believes a strong academic performance this summer will seal his invitation.

Asked if he is considering any other schools, Taylor said, "No. I'm going all or nothing with them."

Taylor, who has two years of eligibility remaining, is a versatile playmaker and a strong presence defensively. He shot 45.9 percent and averaged 10.3 points, 4.9 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.6 steals in 14 games last season while playing shooting guard. In his natural role at the point guard, though, he averaged 3.7 assists as a freshman and was named to the Colonial Athletic Association all-rookie team.

Taylor attended Curtis High in Staten Island before spending a year at Charis Prep (N.C.) – the same school at which incoming MU freshman Justin Safford spent a prep year – and averaging about 14 points and eight assists per game.

"He has the ability to handle the ball and get the ball where it's supposed to be, he can handle and deliver it, and he's very unselfish," said Charis Prep coach Carlos Peralta. "He's a pure point guard."

During his initial recruitment, Taylor had interest from South Carolina and East Carolina along with a few Atlantic Coast Conference, Big East and Atlantic 10 programs, but chose Delaware because then-head coach David Henderson had been scouting him the longest. Henderson was fired in March 2006 and Taylor apparently became disenchanted with the new coaching staff and his switch from the point position.

"Delaware, when they had David Henderson in charge, was the first school to show interest, to believe in him, to recruit him. So when it came time to sign , he was very aware of that loyalty," Peralta said.

"But he's a big-time player."

Taylor became friendly with MU guard Keon Lawrence while the two played together in a summer league – "I think we averaged 50 combined," he said. He then started to think about transferring to Missouri and playing with Lawrence. The feeling grew stronger when he watched MU and Lawrence play on ESPN a few times last season.

He left the team at Delaware midway through last season, during which he'd scored a season-high 30 points against Loyola (Md.), posted double figures in five consecutive games and led the team in field-goal percentage and steals. He visited MU campus this spring, met with the staff and was sold immediately.

Because Taylor is still enrolled at Delaware and is a recruitable athlete, NCAA rules prohibit members of Missouri's staff from commenting on him. Sources close to the program, however, have confirmed he appears to be the primary choice to replace Dandridge.

"Once I got to know the coaches, I realized that that's where I want to be because they care about you as a person as well as a player," Taylor said. "I fell in love with the staff's character as well as their coaching … I was in a system where I feel like I didn't get to use [my strengths]]. Coach Anderson lets us play. He likes to run a lot and I like to run a lot."

Again, nothing is official yet, but it appears increasingly likely Zaire Taylor will be a Missouri Tiger. InsideMizzou.com will keep you updated…

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