Simeon’s Taylor will add versatility to Marquette front court

Chicago Simeon forward Steve Taylor kept hearing the same promises from college coaches.

Guarantees of immediate playing time and future all-league accolades filled the high school senior’s head as he prepared to make his college decision. One team’s words, however, stood out among the rest.

Marquette.

Associate head coach Tony Benford, Taylor’s lead recruiter, said he spoke with Taylor about Marquette in a different way than most coaches talk about their respective programs.

“We don’t talk a whole lot about playing time,” Benford said. “We talk about, if you decide to come here, we’re going to work every day. We’re going to make you tough, and you’re going to continue to grow. It’s a family. You’re going to get better and prepared for the rest of your life.”

Taylor took those words to heart and chose Marquette.

“It felt like it was real,” he said.

Taylor also said he has formed good relationships with senior guard Darius Johnson-Odom and junior guard Junior Cadougan, and that coach Buzz Williams’ style of coaching attracted him to Marquette.

“He’s a cool coach with all his players. He’s real with them. He pushes them, and he’s tough,” Taylor said. “But he loves them afterward.”

And there’s plenty to love about Taylor.

A 6-foot-8, 220-pound forward, Taylor possesses all the traits of a “switchable,” Williams’ term to describe a player who can play either forward position.

At 6-foot-8, Taylor will provide size and versatility to the Marquette front court in 2012. (Photo Credit: MaxPreps.com)

Benford said Taylor has continued to improve since Marquette began recruiting him his junior year and Williams described him as having “a very high ceiling” and someone who “will grow to be better than any of us even think possible.”

Those sentiments are impressive, considering Taylor is a consensus top-70 recruit in the nation and the top 2012 recruit in Illinois. His ability to play inside, rebound and shoot from beyond the arc make him someone who “will be perfect for what we’re trying to do here,” according to Benford.

Taylor said Williams’ aggressive style of play will help him fit in as well.

“It’s get it off the rim and let’s go,” Taylor said, referring to Marquette’s fast-paced offense. “But he’s worried about defense. You have to play defense at Marquette, and I like that.”

Before committing to the Golden Eagles in August, Taylor considered Missouri and DePaul. But his relationship with Benford and Williams, the proximity of Milwaukee to Chicago and Marquette’s success tipped the scale.

Taylor and The Simeon Academy basketball team also have enjoyed recent success. Led by junior Jabari Parker, the consensus top 2013 recruit in the country, and Taylor, the Wolverines have aspirations of a third straight Illinois state championship.

Chicago Bulls guard Derrick Rose graduated from Simeon in 2007, having won two state titles of his own.

“You want winners,” Benford said. “That’s what it’s all about at the end of the day. And if you can get a kid from a winning program, he knows how to work and he wants to win. He brings that mindset to your program.”

Taylor said he needs to improve his ball handling and strength, and will continue to work in both areas both before he arrives at Marquette and in preseason workouts.

“It’s being mentally tough and making it through boot camp and practice,” Taylor said. “And once you get past that, you’re getting better off that.”

Playing time will open up in 2012 following  forward Jae Crowder’s graduation, and Benford said Taylor will have a chance to earn minutes right away.

“He’ll be ready to step right in and contribute significant minutes for us next year,” Benford said. “If he has the mindset to come in and get better every day he’ll really help us from day one.”

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Categories: Features, Home, Recruiting

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