A Very Early Texas Basketball Preview: Isaiah Taylor
Not many could have predicted the breakout season Isaiah Taylor would have for the Texas Longhorns as a freshman, but Rick Barnes apparently saw something special in his 6-foot-1, 170 pound frame. Taylor complied 17 points in his first collegiate game and never looked back from that point, as he would continue to finish the season averaging 12.7 ppg and four apg; good enough to have Taylor labeled as one of the top guards in the Big 12 entering next season. With that in mind, what will the electric point guard be able to bring to the Longhorns, who look poised to compete for the Big 12 championship next season?
Anybody who watched Texas this season while Taylor was on the court was surely captivated by his craftiness around the paint and his Tony Parker-like floater he relies on so heavily. But Taylor was much more for the Longhorns this season than a fancy floater. He was tough, competitive, had heart, resilience and most of all, a leader. All of which will be things Barnes should gloat about heading into the offseason knowing this young talent will do nothing but improve.
So what should Longhorn fans expect from Taylor for the upcoming season, which brings much higher season expectations along with it? Well for his strengths that will likely improve, Taylor has great awareness and scoring ability around the rim and is a much better distributor than his four assists average would initially imply. But for his weaknesses, Taylor is far from a reliable jump shooter and at times looks to be forcing the issue offensively. This paired with his obvious lack of size makes for a busy offseason ahead of Isaiah.
As for next season, Taylor will come back and prove to solidify himself as one of the top guards early in the season. Teams will begin to scout against him nightly and after developing his offensive arsenal as a shooter this season, it will make him that much harder to defend. With the entire roster returning, as well as the addition of incoming freshman standout Jordan Barnett and potentially, the second overall prospect Myles Turner, Taylor will be able to become more of a facilitator as well as have the pressure taken off of him as a scorer.
This along with the maturity, discipline and understanding of the game and how to win will make for Taylor being a guard that opposition will surely dread squaring off with. But luckily for the Longhorns, the growth of Taylor this offseason will allow him to lead Texas into the ranks of college basketball’s elite teams before next season concludes.