TOC: Chris Taft Spotlight

DURHAM -- Chris Taft scored 14 points in the Worldwide Renegades' win Friday night at the Wilson Gym on Duke's campus, showing flashes of what makes him such a coveted player.

It was a below average night for the New York City big man, though most players would be satisfied with 14 points and a bunch of rebounds.

"I could have played better," he said. "We had a long rest because we got here last night. We got a lot of rest, and I wasn't feeling into it."

Taft thrived in the fast-paced AAU setting, running with the guards on the fast break -- and passing like them, too.

"Yes, that's one of my strengths," Taft said of his ability to find the open man. "They think since I'm big they can just double me and I won't see the court. If I see somebody open, I'm going to pass it, especially if they are under the basket or setting up for a shot.

"Its a quick pace, but ever since I was little, I played with players running back and forth. I wasn't [always] tall. I didn't grow until I was 13, so I was little most of my life and I was used to running up and down. That never changed even though I grew. I still run with the guards."

The frantic tempo of this game, along with constant double-teams, prevented Taft from showcasing any post moves in a half court setting.

"I'm pretty good [at the half court game], but I didn't really get to do it today because as soon as I got the ball, there were two or three people coming at me, so I passed it back out."

As for college, Taft's still has a lengthy list of schools under consideration.

"North Carolina, Duke, Maryland, Georgia Tech, Wake Forest, Syracuse, Connecticut, Villanova, Pittsburgh ... a lot."

However, he plans to cut the list to a handful in the coming weeks.

"Probably, late June or early July, I'll narrow the teams down and decide what five schools I'll visit."

Despite reports, Taft said he won't visit the Chapel Hill campus while in town for the Tournament of Champions -- but he'll be back.

"Yeah [I'm going to visit], but not now," he said. "In the future, I'll take one, but not this weekend."

On the court, Taft is one of the best players in the class of 2003, but he realizes it will take dedication off the court in order to go to his college of choice.

"I'm taking extra credit," he said. "After school, I'm working with my teachers so they can tell me what to do to get my grade-point average up."

But this weekend the focus is just basketball, and on Saturday afternoon, Taft will get his first look inside the Smith Center.

"Of course I'm looking forward to it," he said emphatically.

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