Interest With Big Senior Year

Jeff Taylor, the 6-7 senior small forward from Hobbs (New Mexico) is one of those stories of a player flying under the radar -- until his senior season. After not signing in November, he now has some scholarship offers from some big programs...

By not signing in the early period Jeff Taylor, of Hobbs (N.M.) High, is now one of the more heavily recruited prospects in the senior class nationally.

The 6-foot-7, 205-pound small forward has interest from Gonzaga, Vanderbilt, Texas, UNLV, Nebraska, Texas Tech, New Mexico, Kentucky, Arizona and UCLA. According to his high school coach, UCLA is the only one that hasn't offered.

"He didn't sign early and I told him by not signing early a bunch more would come in here on him and that's what has happened," Hobbs coach Russ Gilmore said. "He's taken four visits and he has one more that he can take. He's just kind of holding off until the season is over."

Gonzaga, Vanderbilt, Texas and UNLV are the four schools that he's officially visited. The rest of the schools involved are vying for his last visit, which will likely come shortly after his season ends.

"I think he just has to decide where he wants to take that last visit and just kind of go through that whole process and sit back and determine what he really wants to do," Gilmore said.

So, how can a player of this caliber fly under the radar until his senior year? Taylor chose not to play AAU ball during the summer, but opted to play for the Swedish Under-18 National Team. Taylor is the son of the former NBA draft pick by the same name. Jeff Sr. played professionally in Sweden for years and raised his son there, before they moved back to Jeff Sr.'s former hometome of Hobbs a year and a half ago. But Jeff Jr. still opted not to play summer AAU ball a year ago but again play for the Swedish national team.

So, that's made his recruitment a unique one, and Taylor has benefitted from waiting. Gilmore said: "He's just wide open. He doesn't divulge much. He's just focused on the year and is trying to help us win a state championship. He's just kind of rolling with the punches. He doesn't get too excited. He just wants to get through this year and try to get it done. Then he'll really focus on it when he gets done."

Although recruiting can often times be a distraction, Taylor has clearly handled it well. He's averaging 30 points and 13 rebounds per game. He's also just 55 points away from being Hobbs' all-time leading scorer.

"He can really handle the ball at 6-7 like a guard," Gilmore said. "He can play a three pretty easy in college. He's really athletic and he can put it down on the floor and he has the athletic ability to guard a three in college."

Taylor is rated as a three-star prospect on

UCLA assistant coaches have been out to Hobbs to watch Taylor play twice this season.

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