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.
Kansas’ Taylor Shooting for Rare High School, College Double National Championship
NEW ORLEANS — Tyshawn Taylor, the kid from Hoboken, N.J. who’s had a rocky four years at Kansas, is two victories from a rare double high school/college national championship.
Taylor was a member of Bob Hurley’s undefeated 2007-8 St. Anthony team that produced six Division I-bound seniors and won the mythical national championship.
Now, he’s here in the Final Four as the leader of a Kansas team that faces Ohio State Saturday night in the national semifinals.
“I actually believe that Tyshawn would play at this level since we recruited him,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “He played on that great St. Anthony’s team that won the national championship and all five guys went to high-major schools. I thought Ty was the best prospect out of everybody.”
Completing the rare high school/college national championship double would be quite a feat. Bobby Hurley won the 1989 mythical national title at St. Anthony and then led Duke to back-to-back NCAA titles in 1991-2.
The 2008 St. Anthony team produced a slew of talent: Mike Rosario (Florida), Tray Woodall (Pitt), Jio Fontan (USC) and Dominic Cheek (Villanova), to name a few.
UCLA-bound point guard Kyle Anderson has actually led the Friars to back-to-back unbeaten seasons in 2011 and ’12, going 65-0 in the process, but Taylor will take his team any day of the week.
“There’s no comparison,” Taylor, who said he called Anderson to congratulate him on playing in the McDonald’s All-American Game, told SNY.tv Thursday. “We was the best team in St. Anthony history.”
Taylor initially committed to Marquette out of St. Anthony, but after Tom Crean left the school to take the Indiana job, Hurley took a strong stance that Taylor should be released from his Letter of Intent.
And what school is going to argue with a Hall of Famer like Hurley?
At Kansas, Taylor has had his ups and downs, to be sure.
In 2009, he was involved in an on-campus fight with the football team in which he dislocated his thumb. He later suggested on Facebook that he might transfer, prompting Self to ban Taylor from all social media platforms. And in February 2011 Taylor was suspended for a violation of team rules and missed two Big 12 games. He and teammate Elijah Johnson sat out both of this team’s exhibitions this season.
“I haven’t always been the easiest guy to coach, I’m sure,” Taylor said. “I’ve been suspended a few times for minor things in my career here at Kansas. I took a lot of criticism for it, but I was always able to come back and play well.”
Self credits Taylor will maturing this season and says the former St. Anthony star has always wanted this to be his team.
“Now it is kind of his team even though Thomas [Robinson] gets a lot of credit,” Self said. “He certainly is a great leader for us. “A senior point guard finally realizes that it’s his show. The more responsibilities, the more he appreciates that.”
Still, when Kansas beat Ohio State, 78-67, Dec. 10 at Allen Fieldhouse, Taylor feels he didn’t play as well as he could have.
He had a career-high 13 assists despite a torn meniscus and sprained MCL in his right knee. Ohio State was missing star forward Jared Sullinger consecutive game due to back spasms.
“I waited a whole week to have surgery so I could play for that Ohio State game,” Taylor said. “And I had to wear a big brace on my knee that was really uncomfortable.
“I think it played a big part and a part that people don’t really recognize. I’m not going to make excuses. I had 9 points, 7 turnovers sand 13 assists so I played a pretty good game but I could’ve did so many things better and I think that I will be more effective now.”
And if he is, Taylor will be one victory from winning the national championship again. This time in college.
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.