Fully recovered from an ankle injury, freshman guard anxious to show everything he can do on the floor.
Aug. 25, 2010
|| Getting to Know Archive
NORMAN, Okla. -- College basketball recruiting rankings are tied heavily to players' performances during summer Amateur Athletic Union tournaments. Play really well on the AAU circuit and watch your individual ranking ascend quickly.
Because he suffered a broken ankle early in the summer of 2009, OU freshman T.J. Taylor didn't get the chance to show recruiting analysts how he stacked up against the country's elite heading into his senior year of high school. As a result, Taylor now feels that few people have a full grasp of his abilities on the court. He hopes to change that when the Sooners suit up in November.
A 6-3, 217-pound combo guard, Taylor thrived at Denison High School and was a three-time Texas all-state selection. His school's all-time leading scorer, the lefty finished his four-year varsity career with averages of 23.5 points, 7.8 rebounds and 5.8 assists per outing. This past summer he was named MVP of the Texas High School Coaches Association All-Star Game.
We sat down with Taylor this week to get the details on his ankle injury, why he chose OU, how he spent his summer and what he likes about the 2010-11 Sooners. A Q&A follows below and a separate three-and-a-half-minute video interview is available in the player above.
Q: How was your summer and how did you spend it?
A: "My summer went pretty well. I spent a lot of time with (OU Director of Student Athlete Performance Jozsef) 'Yo-Yo' (Szendrei). I'd work out with him, play pick-up games with the guys and then go back to work with him some more. We did quite a bit, including some stuff I've never seen before. We did a lot of bench press, squats and flexibility. He's big on flexibility. He wants everything to be almost perfect."
Q: How big of an adjustment was that for you?
A: "It was kind of an eye-opener -- something I've never experienced before from a strength coach. But it was good."
Q: Have you noticed a difference in your body or in your performance on the court?
A: "Yes, I've noticed both. I've gotten a lot stronger and quicker, more flexible. On the court, I've gotten so much better."
Q: Coach Capel recently said you're a guy who feels he has something to prove, because you didn't get to showcase yourself the summer before your senior year due to your ankle injury. Do you agree with him?
A: "Yes, I believe I have something to prove. I think I can compete with the top players in my (recruiting) class."
Q: What happened to your ankle?
A: "I had just started to get going in AAU (in the summer of 2009) and then it all came crashing down. I went up to dunk and I came down wrong. I heard a pop, but it was an unusual pop. My first thought was that it was broken, and then I thought it was a sprain. I stood up, tried to walk and fell right back down. It was a broken right ankle and I was out for three months."
Q: You had a standout career at Denison high school and are the school's all-time leading scorer. What are you expecting from yourself at the collegiate level?
A: "I don't expect to be the leading scorer. I just want to come in and play ball, get in where I fit in and do whatever Coach (Capel) tells me to do."
Q: Do you think this level will be a big adjustment for you?
A: "Yes, it'll be a very big adjustment. Our (high school) district was kind of weak. Every game was kind of a cakewalk. Now, everyone's at the same level I'm at."
Q: What went into your decision to sign with Oklahoma?
A: "OU was the only school besides Marquette that was consistently on me. It's only two hours from home and I have a single parent and a little brother. Family's important to me."
Q: You haven't played for him yet, but how would you describe your relationship with Coach Capel?
A: "It's kind of hard to describe because we haven't been able to build that player-coach relationship yet. But he's a pretty cool guy, and serious at the same time."
Q: How would you describe your game to people who've never seen you play?
A: "I'm pretty laid-back sometimes. I can shoot, I can dribble, pass and defend pretty well. I like to play defense."
Q: Do you prefer to play the point or off the ball?
A: "I like the point best. But off the ball is good sometimes when I'm heating up."
Q: Do you consider yourself a good 3-point shooter?
A: "Some say I'm streaky, some say I'm great."
Q. What do you say?
A: (Laughing) "I think I'm pretty good."
Q: What do you consider as your biggest strength as a player?
A: "My strength. When smaller guards are defending me, I just put them on my hip, take them down to the block and post up. I've got a few post-up moves."
Q: In what areas do you most want to improve?
A: "How to come off a ball screen, like a pick-and-roll. Just learn how to use my options and know what to do and the right time to do it."
Q: Talk about your relationship with teammate and fellow freshman Cameron Clark. You guys played at rival high schools, but it seems like you have a close friendship.
A. "We started on a small team in Denison called the TCS Mavericks. It was a few local kids and we were pretty good. Cameron's come a long way. We've been friends since we were about 8 years old. I didn't really know who he was; I just knew he was from Sherman. He was very shy and he wouldn't talk very much. Then the years passed and he just developed into a monster. We've been pretty cool ever since, except the (high school) rivalry games when it was all business."
Q: With this being the first week of class, how's the adjustment to school and to Norman been for you?
A: "It's very different. If you don't go to class, you have a price to pay. But it's pretty fun being out on my own and being responsible for myself."
Q: Have you decided what you want to study yet?
A: "I'm thinking sports medicine."