It's Daimond's Time to Shine

Diamond Taylor, a three-star, shooting guard prospect, from St. Joseph High in Westchester, Illinois, opens up his junior season tonight in the St. Charles East Thanksgiving tournament. Badger Nation will be there covering the game and we asked legendary St. Joe's coach Gene Pingatore what we can expect this evening.

"There's just not a whole lot I can tell you about Diamond Taylor right now," Coach Pingatore told Badger Nation.

"Diamond was the 6th or 7th man coming off the bench for a team that was the second best in the state last year.

"Diamond didn't do a whole lot for us as sophomore but he had a very good AAU season and that's where the recruiting started to pick up. I know he had a great summer, he's had a good fall here and we expect big things starting tonight.

"Taylor has all the tools the college coaches are looking for. He can shoot the three-pointer, he can take the ball to the basket, and he has a very nice mid-range game and a nice jump-shot. Diamond also plays solid defense.

"If there's a weakness in his game, I'd say he needs to work harder on his defense and he needs to get a little bigger. Right now I think he's a little thin but that will change once he gets to the next level."

The scope of college basketball recruiting has changed with the emergence of AAU but Coach Pingatore says he has his hand on the pulse of everything that happens with his kids.

"AAU has changed high school basketball," Pingatore said. "College coaches have to go through the AAU coaches and the high school coaches now to get to the recruits. Some high school coaches aren't involved in the recruiting process but I will always be involved with my kids."

Coach Pingatore has sent several prospects to the next level including Darryl Thomas (Indiana), Darryl Cunningham (DePaul) and Tony Freeman Sr. (Indiana/Iowa). Who did he say was the best basketball player he's ever coached?

"Isiah Thomas was not only the best player I've ever coached," Pingatore explained. "He's the best basketball player to ever play in Illinois." He added.

"People talk about Quinn Buckner, Mark Aguirre and others but nobody was better than Isiah Thomas. Isiah led Indiana to a national championship, he won championships with the Detroit Pistons and he's an NBA Hall of Famer."

One day Diamond Taylor could be talked about in the same breath as Isiah Thomas and it all starts tonight.

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