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.
GREENBURGH, N.Y. — Eli Carter went to prep school for a fifth year and ended up with a scholarship to Rutgers.
Mike Taylor had a scholarship to Rutgers, and must now spend a fifth year in prep school to fulfill his dream of playing Division 1 basketball.
The two guards passed one another, literally and figuratively, during the Frankie Williams Charity Classic Thursday night at the Theodore D. Young Community Center.
Instead of heading to Rutgers this fall, Taylor, the former Brooklyn Boys & Girls High star, will instead travel out to Humble (Texas) Christian Life Center to play for new coach Rafer Alston, the former NBA standout who also serves as Taylor’s AAU coach with the New York Panthers.
“Of course, everybody knows he’s been in the NBA, he was a great guard in the NBA,” said Taylor, who scored 11 points as the White team edged the Black team, 106-105. “And I know he’s going to help me on my skills, not just wanting to win basketball games. He wants everybody to get better.”
Alston, who took the job at Christian Life Center after his playing days were over, said he wants to work on developing Taylor’s game.
“Mike needs some skill work and that’s what we are going to work on,” Alston said by text. “He needs to improve his ballhandling and his work ethic overall. Mike can shoot and has good size.”
The 6-foot-3 Taylor signed a Letter of Intent with Rutgers in November and was excited to be a part of coach Mike Rice’s heralded first recruiting class. But academic and disciplinary issues proved to be his undoing, even as he helped Boys & Girls win its second straight PSAL championship at Madison Square Garden.
“It’s not really that,” he said. “I just that don’t think I was ready enough. I don’t think I was ready, and playing in the Big East you have to be ready. I’m not a point guard. I’m not really a shooting guard, so I have to get a position.”
Rutgers has now parted ways with the former Boys & Girls star and he has reopened his recruitment.
“Now I’m wide open,” Taylor said of his recruitment. “It’s real tough but I made my own decisions and I have to just break through it and get more schools and follow up on it next year.”
He plans to return to the AAU circuit this summer and hopes to impress the college scouts.
“I’ll get a school from this summer going to Vegas and stuff like that so I should be good,” he said.
Carter, meanwhile, is coming off a fifth year of prep school at powerhouse Brewster (N.H.) Academy, where he played alongside fellow Division signees JaKarr Sampson (St. John’s) and Naadir Tharpe (Kansas), among others.
After initially signing with St. Bonaventure out of St. Anthony, the 6-2, 195-pound Carter says the extra year helped prepare him for college.
“It was actually good,” he said after putting up 12 points and 9 assists in the loss. “Without me committing [until late] I had to work hard every day to make sure I got the schools I wanted. So I put the work in every day.”
Carter will join fellow backcourt mates Myles Mack and Jerome Seagears in what should be an exciting group of guards at Rutgers.
“I know them pretty well,” Carter said. “I knew Myles from being in Paterson [N.J.] and from the AAU circuit, and Jerome I met this year. We got to know each other well.”
All three are scoring guards who can handle and break down defenses.
“It’s going to be great,” Carter said. “It’s going to make it easier for us. It’s going to be harder for other teams to defend us because we have a lot of guards who can shoot, handle the ball, get teammates involved.”
Carter looks pretty bulked up but said all the Rutgers recruits must hit the weight room to compete in the Big East.
“We’re going to be in the weight room as much as possible,” he said.
While Taylor will leave the New York area to pursue his Division 1 dream, Carter will return to play college ball in his home state.
“I can’t wait,” he said. “My family’s excited to come watch me play, so I just can’t wait to step on the court.”
**Alston, Anderson head into coaching
(Photo courtesy Daily News)
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Adam Zagoria is a New York Times contributor and Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, 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.