There are plenty of theories to go around as to why T.J. Taylor, an incoming sophomore who spent last season at Paris Junior College, has “withdrawn from Marquette,” according a tweet from @muathletics. But for whatever reason Taylor chose to leave just two weeks into his arrival on campus, his departure leaves Marquette desperately thin in the back court.
Taylor originally committed to Jeff Capel and Oklahoma in 2010, but transferred just one semester in after a concussion kept him off the court for the first semester. Taylor intended to redshirt, but ultimately decided to transfer to a junior college, rather than sitting out a year.
He averaged 14.9 points per game at Paris, and was named a third team junior college All-American and the Paris student-athlete of the year.
A prior relationship with Buzz Williams, as well as Williams’ track record with junior college players attracted Taylor to Marquette, where he said he was looking forward to proving people wrong playing the underdog role.
But it didn’t last long.
Just two weeks into his stay in Milwaukee, Taylor left the program. He couldn’t be reached for comment yesterday, but rumors have floated about the Texas native feeling home sick. A source also said Tony Benford, Taylor’s lead recruiter, leaving for North Texas’ head coaching position did not help matters.
Taylor has enough talent to latch on elsewhere, perhaps closer to home (perhaps at North Texas with Benford). Regardless, Marquette now finds itself in a bind in the back court, a statement which would have been laughable two seasons ago.
With Todd Mayo on indefinite leave from the program, and apparently spending time in South Africa, Marquette has just three returning guards (Derrick Wilson, Junior Cadougan and Vander Blue).
A source said there had been no update on Mayo as of yesterday.
Arizona State transfer Trent Lockett will give the team senior leadership on the perimeter, but his skill set is more inside-oriented. Incoming freshman Jamal Ferguson seems like more of a project, but may be called upon in a larger role, much like Juan Anderson was a year ago.
There’s no word on whether or not Marquette will sign anyone else for the 2012 class, but if Williams does not then the Golden Eagles will have 11 scholarship players for the upcoming season.
Jake Thomas, who earned an open scholarship a year ago, may again earn one of the scholarships, and new walk-on Garrett Swanson, a 6-foot-8 forward from Idaho State, could potentially earn the 13th scholarship.
But while Marquette may struggle in 2012 with a short roster, Taylor’s departure does open up a scholarship for 2013’s loaded class.
Marquette has offered a handful of players in the recent weeks, and while many assumed it was back-up for a potential Mayo departure, it seems as though Williams may have seen Taylor’s departure coming.
Should Chris Otule return for a sixth season, Marquette would have one open scholarship for the 2013 class. If Otule is not granted a sixth season or Marquette does not extend him another year, Williams would have two scholarships at their disposal.
It would seem that Simeon’s Kendrick Nunn is target No. 1 for Marquette. And not only does Taylor’s departure open up a spot for Nunn, it opens up a spot in the back court.
Followed closely on that list is 6-foot-4 Texas combo guard Kendal “House” Harris. The top-100 recruit told CBS Sports’ Jeff Borzello at last weekend’s Adidas Invitational he wants to play in an up-tempo offense and have a good relationship with his coach. He said he wants to visit Marquette, Texas and Alabama, and he would fit what Marquette loses in Taylor.
Center Thomas Hamilton is reportedly down to Marquette, Arizona and Michigan State, and if he’s able to keep his head on straight could be a replacement for Otule. The 6-foot-9 Mac Irvin Fire product is working back from injuries last year, has plenty of talent to boot and serious interest from Williams and Marquette.
Wisconsin SportsNet’s Mark Miller tweeted last month that Marquette was recruiting 6-foot-4 shooting guard Xavier Rathan-Mayes “hard.” The No. 21 overall recruit in the 2013 class is a pure shooter, and Marquette has a nice connection: Assistant Jamie McNeilly coached Rathan-Mayes on the Canadian national team this summer.
Marquette has another connection with 6-foot-9 power forward Kyle Washington. The No. 120 recruit on Rivals.com plays for Hotchkiss School (Conn.), where Derrick Wilson played his senior year.
Lastly, 6-foot-3 shooting guard Demarcus Croaker received a scholarship offer from Marquette earlier this week, and the Orlando native has additional offers from Florida State, Texas and South Carolina, among others.