Koenen 'Excited' to Join Tar Heel Family

When Taylor Koenen arrived at UNC's Elite camp, her goal was to show its coaching staff she was good enough to play in the ACC.

She succeeded and earned a scholarship offer from head coach Sylvia Hatchell and the Tar Heels.

On Friday, she accepted the offer and became Carolina's second verbal commitment (Jocelyn Jones) in the class of 2016.

"I knew I wanted to play for them, because I can play and learn from a hall-of-fame coach," Koenen told InsideCarolina. "Since I can remember I've always been wearing Carolina blue, and my AAU team wears the same. Growing up we'd watch them, my dad was a big fan and it's just a nice campus. It sealed the deal when I went out there and checked out."

A 6-1 guard from Savage (MN) Shakopee, Taylor plays with the Minnesota Fury AAU club. She's ranked Minnesota's top-ranked player in the class of 2016 by Breakdown Sports USA and the No. 58 player in the country by Bret McCormick with All-Star Girls Report.

"The way they play fits my style," she said. "I can shoot the ball from anywhere on the floor and I have a quick first-step to get to the basket when I need to. I can shoot the ball midrange. I have to get a little bigger but my length helps me. I'm just looking forward to becoming the best player I can be with all the talent at UNC and in the ACC."

Following her visit to UNC's Elite camp, Koenen was pretty sure she wanted to commit to UNC. However, her mother and brother weren't able to attend.

"It was just my dad and me," she said. "My mom has been a big part of the process, so has my brother. It's been a family decision, so I wanted all of them to be a part of it."

Koenen received offers and interest from schools in the Big 10, Big 12 and ACC, but ultimately focused on three schools – Iowa, Iowa State and UNC.

Though Savage and Chapel Hill are separated by more than 1,200 miles, Koenen said she and her family agreed she couldn't "pass up the opportunity of a lifetime" to play at Carolina.

"I called (UNC assistant) coach Tracey (Williams-Johnson) and she put me on a three-way with Coach Hatchell," Koenen recalled. "My whole family was in the room and I just told them I wanted to be a Tar Heel."

"They were both very excited and said I made their night. They were saying I have to get out for an official visit and see more of the campus. They were very excited and very happy with the news. They said they wanted me badly and that I was their No. 1 from camp."

In addition to her work on the court, Koenen plays competitive singles tennis and is a pitcher on the Shakopee softball team. Both, she said, have helped her become a better basketball player.

"Tennis helps me with my footwork and being fast, and also the mental part of the game and moving on to the next play," she explained. "With softball, I'm a pitcher, so I have a lot of pressure on me. That helps, like Tennis, with the mental aspect of basketball as well."

With her college decision out of the way, Koenen plays to spend the next two years working to improve so she can contribute immediately at Carolina.

"I'm very excited about getting better and preparing for college," she said. "I want to get bigger, stronger. Honestly, I'm just excited to be a part of the Tar Heel family."

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