Impact Report: Jahmel Taylor

Next season's Husky basketball roster is slowly falling into place with the announcement that Jahmel Taylor of Pacific Hills, California had committed to Washington. Taylor joins Nigel Williams-Goss, Scout.com's No. 22 point guard and Darin Johnson, Scout.com's No. 18-ranked shooting guard in Washington's 2013 recruiting class.

Williams-Goss had a buzzer-beating three pointer to cap a brilliant come-from-behind win over the nation's number one team Montverde Monday, and four-star shooting guard Johnson dropped 42 points against a potent Deer Valley squad last week.

Washington is also hoping to land prep phenom Aaron Gordon, the country's No. 2 power forward, to cap what would be one of the top recruiting classes in the program's history.

If you haven't heard Taylor's name bandied about before, you're not alone. The 5-foot-11 combo guard was a sleeper heading into his senior season after an injury plagued junior campaign pushed him off the recruiting radar after a promising sophomore season, where he was a California State Player of the Year. Taylor is described as a potent scorer with point guard instincts and a tremendous motor, but most importantly he's known as a winner. He's undersized relative to UW's recent emphasis on taller guards, but he plays with a fierce chip on his shoulder. Comparisons have been made to former Husky standouts Justin Dentmon and Isaiah Thomas, with Taylor apparently being a hybrid of the two. Think Dentmon's physical traits and scoring ability with Thomas' attitude and winning mentality and you have Jahmel Taylor.

How Taylor fits into next season's roster is unclear at this point, mainly because we're not sure what the finalized lineup will look like. Right now the Huskies' roster is one short of the NCAA maximum of 13 scholarship players (that includes the two players that can't play this season due to transfer rules - Perris Blackwell and Gilles Dierickx), and the Huskies lose at least three seniors after the 2012-2013 season; Abdul Gaddy, Aziz N'diaye, and Scott Suggs. That means there's a minimum of four spots UW could fill for the 2013 class, and C.J. Wilcox's decision whether to stick around for his senior season could open up another spot. Wilcox's decision will have a major impact on how much playing time any of the freshman guards see, but won't have an impact on how the numbers crunch out. They have enough room for all three guards and Gordon right now.

The Huskies have just two other guards currently on scholarship for next season if Wilcox leaves for the NBA. Andrew Andrews will likely start at one of the guard spots while sophomore Hikeem Stewart will compete for playing time with the frosh. Quinn Sterling and Dion Overstreet - Washington's two walk-on players - are both guards but they aren't in line for scholarships at this point.

So what does the inclusion of Taylor into next year's lineup do for Washington? The Huskies' best case scenario has Wilcox returning as a pre-season All-America candidate and frontrunner for conference Player of the Year. If he is joined by Gordon, who would likely start at small forward as a potential one-and-done player, your likeliest starting lineup would also Andrews, junior forward Desmond Simmons and 6-foot-9, 280-pound transfer center Blackwell, who will immediately become one of the top front court players in the Pac-12. Williams-Goss, Johnson, and Taylor, along with Shawn Kemp and Jernard Jarreau, should make this season's depth concerns a distant memory. You also hope that another year in the program for players like Stewart and Martin Breunig gives them what they need to become impact players.

Husky basketball fans are salivating over that particular scenario, and well they should.

If Wilcox leaves but Gordon signs, the team takes on an entirely different dynamic, though equally exciting in its own way. Andrews, along with Williams-Goss, Johnson, and Taylor, harken back to the more aggressive Nate Robinson-Will Conroy-Brandon Roy backcourt that relied on constant defensive pressure and blazing tempo to overwhelm opponents. With the insanely talented Gordon prowling the floor, the Huskies would be a high octane blast from the past.

In the worst case scenario, Wilcox leaves and Aaron Gordon commits elsewhere, the Huskies will be looking to fill three starting backcourt positions as well as fill out the backcourt rotation, and that means plenty of minutes up for grabs. Andrews, Williams-Goss, Johnson and Taylor, along with the defensive oriented Stewart, might lack the raw firepower of past Husky backcourts, but have the potential to be the strongest defensive unit we've seen at Washington in years.

Taylor fills a crucial need as the Huskies look to potentially replace four starters next season, but any way you shake it the Huskies are going to look remarkably different than they do this year. Lorenzo Romar has had phenomenal success developing undersized guards during his decade-long tenure. The fact that a player his size even received an offer in the first place is a pretty clear indication of the potential Romar must see in Taylor.


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