Taylor Funk talks Hawks

On Thursday night, St. Joe’s got an in-state commitment from Manheim Central (PA) forward Taylor Funk. The 2017 forward, who runs with the Jersey Shore Warriors, spoke at length with Hawk Hill Hardwood about his commitment.

Taylor Funk, a 6’8 forward with a sweet shooting stroke, is St. Joe’s third commitment in the past month, but the first in the 2017 class. The Hawks have received commitments from 6’5 wing Nick Robinson and 6’7 forward Lorenzo Edwards, both 2016 recruits, since the college basketball season ended. Taylor is the first 2017 commitment in a class where the Hawks likely have two scholarship at their disposal.

Taylor’s strength is his ability to knock down shots from the perimeter. As a junior at Manheim Central this year, he averaged 21 points per game and connected on 53 three-pointers. That ability to shoot the ball drew him offers from Monmouth, Boston University, High Point, La Salle, George Mason, and more, in addition to the Hawks. It's what drew interest from the likes of Notre Dame, Virginia, and Michigan. He visited St. Joe’s officially at the end of April, and it turned out to be his one and only official visit.

On Friday night, I spoke with Taylor about his commitment to the Hawks, what he liked about Hawk Hill, and what led to him making an early decision.

“The first time I was ever on campus was a holiday weekend, so there weren’t any students or anything on campus,” Taylor began. “But I remember my parents and I went down and got a tour of the campus. Then the coaches met with us for a good two or three hours. That’s when they invited us down for a game and I just loved the way they played. We went to two or three games and just fell more in love with the way they played each time.”

St.Joe’s had incredible success this season, going 28-8, winning the Atlantic 10 tournament and then beating Cincinnati in the NCAA tournament before losing a tight game to one-seed Oregon in the Round of 32. Much of the team’s success was due to the shooting ability of forwards Isaiah Miles and Papa Ndao. Funk fits right in line with that formula. It’s no wonder he loved the way the team played this year.

Taylor Funk took an official visit to St. Joe’s at the end of April. That visit played a significant role in making Taylor comfortable ending his recruitment early. “So we came down for the visit and one of the first things I did was scrimmage with the team. The guys were great and just made me feel welcome, right at home,” he described. “The coaches treated me great too, like I was their son. I really want to play for coaches who care 100% about the player.”

St. Joe’s head coach Phil Martelli did have one request of Taylor throughout the recruiting process. And it stuck with him. “Coach Martelli, he always said, if I came to St. Joe’s, the one thing he needed from me was a graduation picture when I graduate.” Martelli got that picture today with seniors Aaron Brown, Isaiah Miles, Javon Baumann, and Kyle Molock. It’s not just a recruiting catchphrase.

The visit in April really helped seal the deal with Taylor Funk. It’s not like the Hawks came out of nowhere in his recruitment though. “St. Joe’s has been on top of my list for a while now. I didn’t fall in love with other schools like I did with St. Joe’s. Some schools I visited, I stepped right on campus and knew right away that it wasn’t right, that it wasn’t the place for me. But at St. Joe’s, everything was a plus. There was no negative. There were no negatives.”

On an upperclassman-heavy roster, there was one Hawk that made a very positive impression on Taylor during his visit. And it wasn’t necessarily the first name that would come to mind. “During the visit, Fresh (Lamarr Kimble), he was incredible. He treated me like he’d known me for years. I knew who he was but had never talked with him before. I actually played against him my sophomore year in state playoffs, but we had never met. He showed me around school, campus, and was just incredible.”

With Taylor Funk in the fold in 2017 now, St. Joe’s has some real flexibility with their one remaining scholarship in that class. They could pursue a low post presence to compliment their skilled forwards. Maret (DC) post Luka Garza and Virginia Academy (VA) big man Ejike Obinna would fit that mold, and are seemingly still in the mix. The Hawk coaching staff could also look for a scoring guard like Matt Turner, from Blair Academy (NJ) or Luke Loewe, from Ripon (WI)), or Eddie Scott, from Gonzaga (DC). They have numerous options. For now, the Hawks managed to lock up a skilled, shooting forward with size and length in Taylor Funk. He gets them off to a running start in 2017 toward a bright future.

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