Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
NEW YORK — While most everyone else on the Kansas basketball team took a road trip here to play in the Jimmy V Classic, Tyshawn Taylor is returning home.
“It’s great,” Taylor said Monday morning in an interview at the team hotel in advance of the Jimmy V Classic game Tuesday between No. 4 Kansas (7-0) and No. 14 Memphis (7-0) at Madison Square Garden. “A lot of my friends and family that don’t really get to see me play besides on TV will be able to come to the game.”
The 6-foot-3 Taylor said his mother, Jeanell Taylor, and his stepfather, Gerald Dixon, will be in attendance, as well as “a bunch of my guys from home.” Jeanell lives in Lawrence, KS now after moving from Hoboken, N.J., where Taylor grew up.
Several other Jayhawks have ties to the New York area. Juniors Markieff and Marcus Morris are from Philadelphia and graduated from Apex Academy in New Jersey. Niko Roberts, a walk-on from Huntington, N.Y., is the son of SNY analyst and former St. John’s coach Norm Roberts, who was at the team hotel Monday as well.
“This is only my second time playing in the Garden, so I think it’s going to be a great experience for my teammates coming in first time playing here,” said Taylor, who is averaging 10.4 points. “I’m excited.”
The Jayhawks will get an early glimpse at the Garden Monday night when they attend the Timberwolves-Knicks game. Kansas had 12 former players in the NBA at the start of the season, but none on either team.
Taylor starred at nearby St. Anthony High School under Hall of Fame coach Bob Hurley, whom Taylor expects at the game, too. The Friars went unbeaten and won the national championship in 2008.
Taylor remains close friends with former St. Anthony teammates and “The Street Stops Here” co-stars Mike Rosario (Florida), Jio Fontan (USC) and Travon Woodall (Pittsburgh).
He will be reunited with Fontan Dec. 18 when Fontan makes his debut at Kansas after transferring from Fordham.
“I definitely think Mike is happy [after transferring from Rutgers],” Taylor said. “I talked to him last night. I think Jio’s happy at USC. And Tray’s doing real good at Pitt. He had to redshirt his freshman year.
“So we all went through kind of these little ups and downs, but we’re all happy now. And I think it’s going to pay off.”
(Photo courtesy KUSports.com)
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.