Rebounding Reputation Drew Taylor To Pitt

Dante Taylor will play his 133rd career game at Pitt today, his final game at home for Senior Day. Only nine players--including fellow senior Tray Woodall--have more career games than Taylor.

Dante Taylor remembers exactly where he was when he called Jamie Dixon to tell him he was coming to Pittsburgh.

"He was real happy, he's not a talker, but he was excited," Taylor said. "He couldn't wait for me to get here. What better place to make the announcement, than West Virginia."

Taylor was, of course, playing in a Hoop Group tournament on the campus of West Virginia, when he called to deliver Dixon the news.

Taylor came to Pitt as a McDonald's All-American. He battled lofty expectations ever since he came here. His first double-double of the season came in his most recent game against South Florida, and he has been relegated to sixth man duties as a senior.

It might sound natural--based on the way Taylor has been playing as of late--to give him the start. He's played anywhere from 19-20 minutes in the last three games, anyway. Dixon hasn't made that call. Taylor, looking at his senior day, is fine either way.

"I think he's been playing really well in games, albeit for shorter stretches," Dixon said. "He's playing like you hope a senior would play. He's a great example. He's always been a great kid, important part of what we're doing, important part of our success. It's nice to see a guy playing well, and people recognizing that."

"To me, it really doesn't matter if I start or not," Taylor said. "I know I'm going to get in the game, regardless. If I start, that would be great. If I don't, I'm not going to be mad about it."

Looking back at why he chose Pitt, and what stands out about being at Pitt, Taylor says there's a lot of things. He admits he didn't watch much college basketball as a youngster. He did have a couple teams he followed.

"I always liked Georgetown and UConn," Taylor said. "They were big name schools. I started watching Pitt on TV, and I just gravitated towards them."

And within that idea of watching Pitt on TV, it was specifically watching DeJuan Blair--a dominant forward who was a Panther for two years, before Taylor came to campus.

"I liked watching DeJuan, but I always liked watching Pitt," Taylor said. "Seeing them rebound, watching him, is one of the reasons I came here."

Ultimately, it became an easy decision leading up to the summer of his junior year, when he called Dixon to say he was a Panther. Pitt, Taylor says, was one of the first schools in on him. From there, there was never any question he was coming here.

"I kind of early on knew it was going to be Pitt," Taylor said. "They were there from the beginning. I liked the coaching, the way they coached. Pretty much, from the beginning, I knew I was coming here. I remember them coming in my junior year. I was just waiting for the right time. Once I came up for my visit, it was a done deal."

Panther Digest Top Stories