Taphorn ready for the next step

Nate Taphorn's high school career came to an end on Friday. But after "leaving his footprint" at Pekin, Taphorn prepares for the next step. In this Purple Wildcats Insider update, he dishes on his future role, coach Bill Carmody, and his offseason plans.

Nate Taphorn finished his high school career last night. He has already grown accustomed to leaving a legacy.

His Pekin Community HS team lost in the 4A Regional Championship game last night, but Taphorn endeared himself to the community.

"So many people have told me: ‘Great career. You left your footprints here, and a lot of people will look up to you.'

"I feel a lot better knowing that I left a footprint on Pekin basketball… I'll have more confidence knowing that I have a whole city behind me," Taphorn said.

He's prepared to take the next step at Northwestern. In fact, the 2013 commit spoke to Bill Carmody and Tavaras Hardy earlier today. They encourage Taphorn to bulk up through his eating habits and frequent trips to the weight room. With his season over, Taphorn is excited to join the NU program.

"It seems so far away, but it's so close," Taphorn said. "I can't wait to get up there and start working with the guys."

Reflecting on his high school career, Taphorn stressed the importance of maintaining emotional focus. His coach, Dave Mott, retired after seven seasons at Pekin. And every year, he stressed his central message – a fitting one for future NU players:

"Always move on to the next play, no matter what," Taphorn said. "That was a big part of our program. Keep on chugging."

Taphorn understands NU's recent struggles. This has not dampened his enthusiasm. With greater weapons on next year's team, they have the potential to make a postseason run.

He expects Carmody to return next season. The embattled head coach is facing criticisms despite watching over a team devastated by injuries. Taphorn, though, has developed a relationship with this coaching staff. He often speaks with Jaren Sina, and they both strongly support Carmody.

"We want to play for coach Carmody," Taphorn said. "If [he gets fired], it would impact me in a way."

After scoring 1,021 points in his memorable high school career, Taphorn knows he has to earn everything. He understands that because of NU's strong returning core, he needs to impress in practice.

"I'm really focusing on making an impact," he said. "… I think that rotation-wise, I'll earn it in practice or not. It all depends on where I stand on the team."

He left his footprint in one place. Now, he strives to do the same at Northwestern. That process begins very soon.


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